Monday, March 10, 2014

An Overdue Update

Seems like it's been a long time since I had any foot updates.  Honestly, this winter has been kicking my butt in more ways than one and I know I've been slacking a bit, especially with the blog.  One of the issues that came up with all my recent doctor visits and tests was an extremely low vitamin D level despite the fact that I was taking high levels of supplemental D.  I am now taking stratospheric levels and it has helped, kind of like coming out of a dense fog.  Some of the bone and muscle pain has improved as well although there are other problems there as well. Autoimmune disorders suck.

One of the problems I am dealing with is improper absorption of nutrients as a result of damage to my GI tract caused by celiac disease.  It is ironic to me as I have been delving so deeply into equine nutrition.  Turns out Ramsey and I have had some of the same problems.  In Ramsey's case, the nutrients were missing from his diet.  In my case, I am unable to absorb them.  Different problems, similar results. 

I haven't forgotten my promise to write about nutrition either, it just got lost in the fog for a bit.  I have also been struggling with it to a degree because I have found that many (most?) people are very resistant to talking about it at all.  I have encountered a tremendous reluctance to even discuss the possibility of nutritional issues and this has left me seriously puzzled.  After pondering this for several months, I have come to think that the problem of nutrition is two-fold:  first, it is a complex, often bewildering subject that can't always be easily fixed.  Second, many horse owners take any suggestion that there could be a nutritional problem as a criticism of their horse keeping skills. 

It is far easier and more satisfying to buy a tub of vitamins and feel that we have done right by our animals than it is to go looking for trouble.   Unfortunately, I have come to believe that most of our horses do well in spite of those lovely white supplement tubs rather than because of them.  For those who are interested (and I know there are a few:), I will get around to it one of these days.

For now, a rather overdue foot update:

If you recall, last Fall, Ramsey's foot had gone all sideways on me and was collapsing inwards...

I can't tell you how many hours I have spent looking at this foot as well as all the bones above it and watching how Ramsey moves.  In late Fall, I made a conscious effort to set aside all of the trimming advice I had gotten to date and stopped studying other hoof trimming methods.  I am not saying that any of that information was bad, any skill has to start somewhere after all.  Rather, there comes a point when you have to step away from books and experts and let the foot in front of you tell you what it needs.  I think this is true for any hands-on skill, at least it is for me.  I study everything I can until I come to a point where I have to stop studying in order to learn. 

It is also true that, just as every finger print is unique, every hoof is unique.  Ramsey's foot is a bit more unique yet.  There is no book that covers this foot.  It was obvious that what I had been doing was not working any more. 

I made changes in Ramsey's feed to address nutritional deficits and imbalances and I set about trying to do what this very special and unique foot wanted.  I made some mistakes along the way and they showed up in the foot, as they always do, but I am much happier with where we are now.  This is where we were  2/16/14...

and where we are 3/7/14...(note how much shinier the foot is, that is from the balanced nutrition)

In these next photos, you can see how that abscess he had last Fall slowly grew out.  You can also see how the hoof wall has gradually thickened.  I attribute that to nutrition as well.

 12/4/13                                                                                  2/12/14

Starting to look like a decent foot, (note, I don't usually trim the frog much at all, but Ramsey's is so tough that it does not wear down at all in the snow.  It was growing well past the bottom of the foot.) 3/7/14
The above photo is interesting to me because you can so clearly see where the missing coffin bone is.  Picture the "bite" taken out of the bone and you can see it clearly in the upper left side of the foot.  The right side shows lovely wall connection and a very tight white line.  That line turns into a 1/2 inch thick, wobbly area on the left of the foot where the bone is gone.  Those dark spots are weak, poorly connected areas. 

The bone loss shows up on the outside of the hoof as well, in the line that runs down the side of the foot...


We have managed to maintain good wall connection at the toe and the heels are slowly strengthening.  I would like to see the entire foot about a 1/2 inch shorter than it is here...


Getting there....slowly.


  1. First off I am seriously interested in horse/equine nutrition because I think so many areas of the US are deficient in certain necessary minerals and nutrients. Indeed I once felt offended when someone suggested I improved the diet on my old horse back in the olden days. No more.
    My mom has celiac disease and I have been trying to change MY own diet to make things better for myself.
    Amazing work with Ramsey's feet/hoof!

  2. I am very impressed with the progress you have made with that foot. The photos of the outside and bottom are proof of your knowledge and patience. A little nice weather would help wouldn't it? Hope you are back to feeling better soon.

  3. wow I am impressed and I find nutrition very interesting
    so happy for ramsey and you

  4. I like what you said about putting away the books and the "how too's" and letting the foot tell you what it needs. I seriously want to be able to do that. I am trying, and I am learning but I am still lacking the confidence I need to just get in and do it, which puts at the mercy of others.

    And I am very interested in your nutrition post

  5. Looking great :-) You've done a fantastic job!! Ramsey is very lucky to have such a caring and tenacious owner who finds things out her for herself, really happy to see that last pic, long may the improvement continue.

  6. I have noticed an odd stigma surrounding equine nutrition and (at least where I come from) barefoot trimming as well. While the pony I lease seems to get at least adequate nutrition, probably more than adequate as he grew an amazing winter coat this year (much more than he needed for Southern California). While I have no problems with what he is being fed, there is not much discussion about nutrition at Pony Club meetings, ect. This is the way you feed horses, other ways are too expensive, too complicated, too unreliable. Same thing with trimming. Horses wear shoes. Barefoot is too hard. While I believe that in some cases shoes are helpful, as is just feeding straight alfalfa, it's strange no one seems to want to talk about it.

  7. It makes my head almost swim to think of all the stuff you have to know and do with your four-footed friends. So sorry about the Celiac disease. One good news about it is there are more commercial foods available for those living with it - - right? Plus there are so many cookbooks and help on the internet. You made such a positive difference with your sweet pet so I know you can get your body better, too. Looking forward to hearing updates on it.

  8. I've been GF and DF apart from butter for quite a few years now due to Lyme messing with my gut along everything else. It does get easier as you learn! I mostly cook all my own foods because GF commercial stuff has a lot of crap in it. this book is great: I do use melted butter and low gi plain cane sugar instead of oil and agave nectar though

    You do need to read labels very carefully when you start out. It is amazing where gluten can hide!