Chapter 18 – What can you do to help the professional you have employed?

Regardless of whether or not the professional ‘expert’ you’ve employed is also the same person who will be physically working on the case, there are a few things that will be helpful

It will be helpful to maintain short intervals between trims, usually two to three weeks between trims for some length of time before lengthening the intervals, as the feet get healthier. It will be helpful to try to do minor touch-ups in-between trim visits. This is a good idea because you can help your farrier / trimmer maintain proper balance in the feet in-between his or her visits. If you are not physically able to do so, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world. It would merely be of help.

You can also help by maintaining written logs of your horse. The logs can be as detailed or as cryptic as you like, but the more detail you can provide, the better. This is a good idea because you can start to see patterns in behavior, health and so on. These daily (or weekly) logs can be shared with your vet and farrier so they can get a clearer picture of how your horse is doing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Good detail to include would be the date and time, weather information, feed information, general behavior of the horse, exercise and movement information, condition of the ground surfaces, amount of time grazing and / or stall time, and what the horse’s overall mental state was that day. Always insure you list anything out of the ordinary that happens; such as the day you first suspect an abscess brewing or the day it ruptures, the day medications where given and what they were, the day any type or amount of feed was changed (even hay), and be sure to note the subtle changes in personality or behavior. Not all will be bad, but be sure to list both good and bad. No detail is too small or insignificant. The one detail you pass off as insignificant can very well be the one key that makes all the other pieces of the puzzle fit together for a given situation. The smallest details often times play the largest rolls in determining cause and affect. They may hold the single key to clear understanding and help make the correct diagnosis of a given problem so that the correct course and treatment may be started.

Another good idea to keep, along with the daily logs, is a photographic journal. Usually these are most affective if done just prior to and just after a trim, but they can be done at any time. Pay close attention to taking correct pictures of the feet and of the body. Any other pictures you would like to take (I call them scenery pictures) are up to you.

Another very necessary and useful tool to work from are x-rays. They are vitally important to making sure the proper amount of work is done and in just the right way. Without x-rays we cannot determine if or how much a coffin bone has rotated. Refer above to get instructions on how to take them. When to take them would be prior to the first trim by the founder specialist and at least every six months after that until your specialist releases you from the treatment program. Occasionally, it will be a good idea to have x-rays taken every three months, but six months is the usual norm. Every second set of x-rays can be just the lateral views if finances are an issue. That would mean that the first set should be a full set (laterals and front/back, known as A/P views), then the next set can be just laterals. They simply help to visually see the progress that’s been made and will help to determine if any changes are needed to the trim in order to continue the progress.

Your horse may have special needs or requirements outside of the founder issue. Never hide any pertinent information about your horse. Previous injuries, illnesses, previous founder episodes, any metabolic issues, etc. should be remembered and disclosed. Your horse’s treatment plan may be influenced by it and progress could be hindered by not disclosing it.

Chapter 17 – Is there only one trimming or shoeing protocol that works?

That’s a good question with no clear answer. We have already examined the age-old shoeing techniques that have had limited success and many more failures. But there are a few reasonably new shoeing techniques that claim success. That success, however, appears to be quite limited. When compared to a zero success rate, anything, even a one percent success rate, can seem better than nothing.

A general protocol having greater success is trimming for founder. There are a number of groups and organizations having some success with treating founder through trimming. Some protocols have more success than others. If you contact each of these, a valid question to ask is not what success rate they have, but do they prefer to work on mild to moderate cases and do they take on any founder case regardless of severity. Another good question to ask is, can their protocol be adapted to any horse, with any severity, in any environment, given any variable? Some organizations prefer only to take on the mild cases because they can claim a higher success rate. The rest they recommend putting down. One organization, however, has had good success and they do not turn away cases simply because other groups or professionals have given up hope. They are able to adapt the trim and rehabilitation protocol to any horse in any part of the country. I am proud to be a founding member of that organization and I believe our work and our success, speaks for itself. When looking for someone to work on a foundered horse, it is very important to do research, talk to other horse owners with foundered horses, find out who has had the worst cases and investigate those cases. The approach and treatment of each case should be handled on an individual basis and should have a treatment and approach for addressing each case. The treatment should make logical sense. It should have sound reasoning. It should be backed up by pathological research. And it should be a treatment plan that can adapt to changing conditions. If the approach appears to be a ‘cookie cutter’ plan, that plan is likely going to be too rigid and will not be flexible enough to ‘bend and sway’ as conditions change and evolve. One thing to consider, though, is no matter which protocol you decide upon; give that protocol a chance to work. Unless there is a definite regress or absolute degrade in the condition of the horse that wasn’t warned or expected, stick with that protocol for a reasonable length of time. Three months would be a reasonable length of time before reevaluating. Don’t be afraid to question the treatment or protocol. The professional you have decided upon should be able to answer, in logical and clear terms, what is being done, why it’s being done and what the expected results should be. The bottom line is, the treatment should make good sense.