In so many things that I see with working with horses, many gadgets and procedures are developed not only to get the job at hand done, but also to make OUR jobs easier or more comfortable. Horses typically accommodate these things we come up with quite well and it all works out for the benefit of all involved. But what happens when a horse can no longer accommodate the way we would like to do something?
Case in point… trimming their feet. Trimming feet can be incredibly hard on the human body. I have such great respect for farriers and trimmers that do it day in and day out! I’m lucky if I can do one of my horses in a single day, let alone all three of them! I can’t even imagine doing as many as a hoof care professional does in a day. What do you do when traditional techniques fail? Some might get in a fight with the horse, I’ve seen it. It’s not pretty. Assumptions may be made that the horse “won’t” cooperate rather than “can’t” cooperate. I like to come from a perspective of giving the horse the benefit of the doubt before jumping to the “won’t” assumption. How about WE adjust to fit the HORSE’S needs? Try to think outside the box a bit.
Recently I had to face this challenge myself. My 18-year-old gelding Spirit can no longer hold his right front leg up for more than just a few seconds at a time because of large calcification on his left front carpus joint. He’s had the large lump on his knee for many years, but over the last year or so it started to really affect him. He wears a hoof boot and a magnetic knee boot to help his pain levels and accommodate the way he weights that leg. Even with that and supplementation, he still has difficulty picking up his right front just to pick it out, let alone try to trim in. And getting him to put it on a hoof stand for rasping is a definite no-go!
So I had to figure out a way to rasp his hoof that wasn’t going to break my back, as well as to make it easier for him. I have to do tiny bits at a time with the nippers and rasping the bottom of the foot. Then I decided to try to use a 4×4 for him to stand on so I can rasp the toe and sides of the hoof. So far It has been working well for him. A little harder and more awkward for me, and not perfect, but the end result is better than causing him pain/frustration or just letting his foot get out of balance.
He really seems to like standing on the board! He just hangs that sore leg down and gives it a rest while he’s on it. So a win-win for all involved. Maybe you’ve had to deal with something similar. If so, I would love to hear how you were able to work around the issue. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments!
This information is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or condition, nor is it meant to replace regular veterinary care. Always remember to consult your veterinarian before beginning any treatment plan on your horse!
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork, using essential oils for animals and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the “whole horse”.