Thursday, August 27, 2009

Linus's New Package!

Shoeing package, of course! Absolutely no pun intended... Ok, maybe a little, but it's late and I'm functioning on an overwhelming lack of sleep. Moving on...

As we all know, Linus is a Thoroughbred. Anyone who is familiar with horses knows that this breed is certainly not known for the quality of their hooves. They are bred to run, and the physical quality of the animal nearly always takes a backseat to their speed on the track. Thoroughbreds today are typically thin-soled, have a poor quality of hoof wall, and are prone to abscesses, stone bruises and other hoof-related soundness issues. This has occurred after years of breeding plans that had little to no concern regarding the long term health of the animal.

After months of evaluations and researching his history, it was determined that since Linus is going to be used for arena and trail work, he would benefit from shoes and pads. Besides the obvious protection that the shoes will give him, pads were deemed necessary to help protect his soles, and an angle increase via a wedge pad to balance his hoof/pastern angle.

Brad Erickson and I have the same goals: we want to allow Linus to continue out his many remaining years as healthy as possible. Linus is nearly done with his rehabilitation and we want to do everything possible to keep him comfortable, happy and sound. Brad showed up yesterday and the pictures below tell the story of his hoof makeover!

This is what we started with... (And by "we" I mean Brad. I had absolutely nothing to do with this amazing transformation besides asking 1,000,000 questions, all of which Brad graciously and thoroughly answered.)

Brad begins to work on Linus's hooves. He had an under run, slightly contracted heel to deal with, as well as a few blemishes from past injuries and his neglect. Overall for a Thoroughbred, Brad was impressed with the depth of his soles and his hoof walls.

Front left hoof, before the trim...

And after the trim!

The right front hoof before the trim...

And after the trim!

Brad used a 3-degree wedge pad to increase Linus's angles. His heels were under run and we needed to increase his hoof angle to better match his pasterns. These pads are also perforated to allow for a pour-in pad that will help support the frog while helping to reduce the likelihood of thrush.

Pouring in the Equi-Pad CS...

A view of the pad as it dries...

Finishing up the right front pour-in pad... (Notice how shiny Linus's coat is!)

Just as a reminder, this is what this hoof looked like before...

...and this is the final product! (That's the same hoof, I swear!) The hoof is now well balanced and well supported, and there is a huge improvement in the hoof and pastern angles.

Brad, thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to our animals! We all appreciate everything you have done for Faith and Linus. Neither of these horses would have made such amazing recoveries without your knowledgeable and dedicated service!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Linus is Back to Work!

Today was the big day - Linus' first day back under saddle!

Let's start at the beginning... Linus came to us with two known "issues". First, we were informed that "he absolutely CANNOT be crosstied!". Supposedly he used to pull back and panic, but after a few days of working with him and teaching him to give to pressure, he stands nicely and behaves himself like the good boy he is.

The second thing we were told was that, "you cannot tighten his girth indoors." Well, come to find out, it's not where you tighten his girth but with what force you choose to do so. As long as his girth is tightened incrementally, Linus is fine. He doesn't blow out, or up, and stays quiet and relaxed. I have been working on this with him diligently over the past few weeks, and he has done wonderfully.

So today was the big day...

We put Linus on the crossties, gave him a good grooming and made him shine. He enjoyed every part of it, especially having his butt scratched. (Some things will never make sense to me, I guess!) Lucy put on her riding boots, strapped a helmet to her head, and the three of us headed off towards the arena.

I walked him around while tightening his girth a hole at a time and he was fine. No bolting, no sucking in, no rocking back on his hindquarters. He just needs to be handled slowly, that's all. The girth was tight enough, and with an easy leg up and Lucy was in the saddle. Linus stood like a gentleman and waited for her cue.

They began walking around the arena and within a few moments, he dropped his head down and relaxed. He seemed comfortable with the day's activities, content to be back to work, happy to have a purpose again...

After a while they picked up a trot. It was difficult at first - Linus really isn't in a hurry to go anywhere and Lucy's short legs weren't very convincing to him. It took a lot of squeezing, a lot of clicking and eventually he decided he couldn't stall any longer and picked up a cute little suspended trot. A little squeeze back on the reins and a "whoa" and Linus went right back into a relaxed walk.

We reversed direction and asked for both gaits again. It still took a bit of convincing, but he eventually decided he would give us another trot. After that came our final test - the canter. After seeing how lazy he was at the trot, I had really low expectations of him actually picking up the canter without the use of an artificial aid. But, as fate may have it, he not only picked it up, but stepped into it beautifully from the walk!

His canter was... different. Not how I would expect a 16.1 hand horse to move, but cute nonetheless. He naturally stays very collected and is a smooth but lofty mover. Lucy said he felt different than our other horses, but she liked it.

Although we haven't taken him out yet, we have heard from his previous owners that he was a quiet, trustworthy mount that used to carry 6-year-olds on the trails. After what I saw today, I wouldn't doubt any part of that.

The good news is that Linus is sound and ready to return to an easy lifestyle of being a family horse! The sad news is that we are hoping to find him a good home and he may be leaving our farm here.

We hope that over the next few weeks of working with him under saddle more, that he will be ready for a new home by the end of September. I am hoping that I will be able to find a family that will be able to adopt him or lease him long term. The "perfect home" comes in many shapes and sizes, but my biggest concern is that he is well-taken care of, and of course, adored like the sweetie he is. He deserves it.

The positive side to Linus's moving on is that this will open up room at our farm here to take on another rescue case if one should come this way.

If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in giving Linus a perfect, long term home, please contact me at