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Should My Horse be Lame After a Hoof Trim?

My life has changed quite a bit since I got my new horse, Whata Dandy Life (aka "Murphy"), at the beginning of October. Decisions had to be made: where to board him? how do I choose a vet and farrier? do I send him for finishing or attempt to do it myself? which kind of horsemanship do I want to practice?

Well, the decision of where to board him was fairly easy...I toured one place (Lakeview Farm) and then cancelled all my other appointments. After all, where else would I be able to find a 200-acre farm with a 40-acre pasture for Murphy to roam around in that also had trails on site?

On to the next step: choosing a farrier. Murphy's got a club foot (his right front) and also had torn off a chunk of that hoof earlier this summer stomping at flies (it was a very dry season). The last couple times I'd been out to the barn I noticed he was a bit lame tracking to the right in the round pen, so I made an appointment with the farrier used there.

I'd met this man before and had only heard good things from other boarders, plus he mentioned he has a mare with a club foot so I was reassured.

Then the assumptions started: I assumed he knew I wanted Murphy's shoes – he had them on his front feet only – pulled for the winter (our horses have always gone barefoot in the winter months). He assumed since the horse had front shoes he was putting shoes back on. I didn't notice what was happening until he started fitting Murphy for a I told him no, we're not putting shoes back on.

He apologized and said he assumed we were and he "took liberties and trimmed him for shoes." I was taken aback a bit; I didn't know there was a difference when trimming hooves. The farrier then mentioned maybe we should cast him. Confused, I asked "Why would we need to do that?"

"Because he might be a bit tender," he replied. Still puzzled, I told him I didn't think putting casts on his hooves would be necessary – after all, our horses aren't sore after getting their hooves trimmed, and I didn't want to spend the extra money "just  because." That was on Tuesday afternoon.

Turns out I should've listened to the farrier's suggestion. I went out to the barn yesterday on a whim – it was pretty cold so I hadn't planned on making the journey up there – to maybe shoot some images of the horses in the snow and go hiking in the woods. I decided to get Murphy out to brush the ice off him (it had sleeted/snowed the night before) and maybe putz around with him and do some groundwork.

Well, he was dead lame on BOTH front feet. Shocked, I slowly walked him to the arena while he hobbled behind me...I was so confused and then I got mad: why on EARTH was this horse THIS lame three days after being trimmed? Yes, the ground was now frozen, but still...

I had the barn owner call the farrier, who said he'd come right out. Of course he put casts on him but my poor horse was still tender-footed, even on the soft arena dirt (and after 2 clicks of Bute). The farrier did only charge me for materials, and this could've been just a simple miscommunication, but I'm still not convinced this is the farrier I want working on Murphy.

My poor horse is now confined to a stall (the farrier said he needs to remain on soft/unfrozen ground for a couple days) and is un-ridable...and I'm left wondering what to do about this situation. The question is: should a horse be lame three days after getting his hooves trimmed?

Bonding With Murphy

Just another horsin' around post...

While yesterday started out with iffy weather – cloudy & raining in the morning – it turned into an absolutely gorgeous afternoon: low 60s and sunny. After taking Zada on an hour-long walk around Lake Como, I changed into riding clothes –  it was the perfect November day to head out to see my horse, of course :) –  and zipped up to Hugo to Lakeview Farm.

 I was hoping to latch onto anyone who was heading out on the trails, since I haven't been out on them yet (minus the first day when Marla gave me a 4-wheeler ride at break-neck speed). There wasn't anyone around when I got there, however, so I decided to work Murphy for a bit in the round pen.

However, I noticed right away in the round pen he was a bit lame – I couldn't tell on which leg, at first, but since it was to the right it was his front right (club) foot with the crack. Disappointed but with spirits still high I finished tacking him up and headed out to the huge outdoor arena (150ft x 250ft) where a few girls were riding their horses.

He was just fine at the walk, and after a little warm-up I asked him to trot and he was fine. I even ended up loping both ways and he never put a foot wrong – of course, the huge area meant he wasn't going in small circles, so that helped.

At one point the girls all left and I debated going with them – after all, Murphy and I are new in our relationship & I wasn't quite sure how this 4-year-old would react to being left behind. While he was very interested in where the other horses were going, he still listened to me and didn't neigh or act out...what a good boy :)

I didn't work him long – I didn't want to stress his leg – and he was a bit sweaty from the warm temps so we headed back to the stable (it's about a 5-8 minute ride just to get out there...maybe slower on the way OUT, away from the barn :).

When I got back there were several people and horses at the hitching rail so I just sat on Murphy, taking in the scenes and waiting for my turn; frankly I was just enjoying the beautiful day and being on my horse!

After untacking him – and a good rub-down with the curry comb – I decided I wasn't quite ready to let go of the day yet so I let him graze and nibble stray grain while I took some shots with my point-and-shoot camera and chatted with a few of the other boarders.

It was a lovely afternoon and I'm so thankful I was able to enjoy it on the back (and at the side) of my horse.

Murphy Moves to Lakeview Farm

Today was the big day – Mom hauled Murphy down to Hugo, Minnesota and we introduced him to his new home: Lakeview Farm.

I've never boarded a horse before – I've always mooched off my parents and kept my gelding up in the Brainerd Lakes Area – so this was a big step for me. I had to find the right mix of "must-haves:" pasture board with a lot of room to roam; a laid-back environment; indoor/outdoor arena; access to trail riding and (hopefully) the ability to bring my beautiful German shepherd with me.

Enter Lakeview Farm in Hugo, MN. Not only does it fit all my criteria; all the people I've met thus far (and I've met quite a few) are absolutely great. Very nice people who just love their horses and want to enjoy them to the fullest. Perfect.

Also, everyone who met Zada loved her today – except the paint pony in the gelding pasture (Poika), who didn't know WHAT to think of this weirdo dog with the big stick in her mouth – and she got along very well with the myriad of other dogs present.

Is it a big, fancy "show barn"? Nope. Do I care? Yup. As in, I did NOT want to be part of one of "those" stables. I plan on showing Murphy in open shows but the last thing I wanted was to be part of some snotty group of clicky ladies hell-bent on putting on a fashion show instead of just having fun with their horses.

He's now comfortably ensconced in his new pasture: it's "only" about ten acres but once he gets used to all the rest of the bachelor herd (aka The Geldings) he'll have approximately forty acres to run around in...which is exactly what I wanted for him. I believe horses need to be horses – and what horses inherently want to do is roam and graze and move freely, instead of being confined to a stall.

In fact, after I walked in with him (all the other geldings were out) and led him all around the fence line, I let him go and he just hung out, checking everything out with his ears. Then, after a couple of new friends had been introduced, he felt comfortable enough to roll.

The owner of Lakeview Farm – Marla – is a hoot with a fabulous personality and a love of horses...well, of all animals, really. Her cat (only one of seven I've met), her dogs (a Doberman, an ancient border collie mix, some other spaniel breed and a giant golden retriever), and her horses are all very friendly and people-oriented animals. With 200 acres to roam around on, they truly live the good life.

In fact, as I sat here typing this evening I was thinking, "I wonder how Murphy's doing on his first night in a new place...?" For some reason I went upstairs and happened to see I'd missed a call. I checked my voicemail and lo and behold, it was Marla saying she'd just checked on Murphy and he was "eating at the round bale with a couple buddies and acting like Mr. Mellow..." she went on to say she thinks he's one of the easiest horses to integrate into the herd she's ever had.

What a good boy :) Can't wait to head out tomorrow and ride him around in the arenas and maybe on some of the trails on the glad to have entered this "farm family"!