Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tristan and the Farrier

I am still catching up on blog-reading, and SprinklerBandit's post about Courage's problems with the farrier made me realize I hadn't done an update on Tristan and his farrier behavior in a little while.

Short version? Problems solved!

If you haven't been paying minute attention to every word, you may not realize that about two years ago, Tristan got shoes for the first time, four all around. My trainer and farrier at the time jointly convinced me that he would move much better and that he really needed it. I agreed to try it, after 7 years of barefoot going, as an experiment.

The day before he was to get his shoes for the first time, he blew his abscess. Farrier put four shoes on him anyway, assuming it would blow over quickly. That didn't happen. See the "abscess" and "surgery" label for that whole sordid tale.

Essentially, it looks like Tristan associated getting shoes hammered on with the pain from the infected piece of broken bone that was now erupting through his entire foot. He started acting up for the farrier, becoming nearly impossible to touch to the point of being violently dangerous. I worked with him for hours and hours on end. Eventually, we simply sedated him for farrier visits.

That reached its height with an absurd visit in which he blew through a double dose of tranquilizer and laid down in the middle of a farrier visit in a fit of...something cranky. The quick-witted assistant trainer/barn manager, M., sat on his head while he was down and the farrier finished trimming. Then they let him up and he was good as gold for the rest of that shoeing.

Things continued to go up and down, though they were never again as bad as that day. About nine months ago, the barn switched farriers - for a lot of reasons. It just so happened through a series of mixups, I did not get tranquilizer from the vet in time. I had emailed the new farrier (new-ish; he'd been doing other horses in the barn with great success, it's just that we added the whole barn to his list. It's kind of complicated) with a complete background on everything that had been happening. I wanted him to make a very informed decision about dealing with Tristan.

He wasn't worried, and you know what? Tristan behaved. Not perfectly, that first day; as the farrier explained, he had to take a lot of short breaks and read Tristan's body really, really well. He backed off when Tristan got nervous or fussy, and discovered that if he held the foot in a different way and used a slightly different technique in hammering the nails, Tristan was much happier.

Moral of the story: new farrier ROCKS.

That being said, it looks like we'll be doing shoes for a while yet. New farrier also thinks that it will be some time before Tristan's front feet can handle barefoot again comfortably, and I haven't yet been able to put together a coherent plan for the transition. Maybe once the nasty abscess hole (still!1!!1!) grows out, we will take a swing at it and see.

But in the meantime, so glad to have my well-behaved pony back!


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