Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There is No Death

John Mowen

December 25, 1927
December 15, 2011

I am standing upon the seashore.  A ship spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts out upon the ocean.

I watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky mingle with each other.

Then someone says, "She's gone." 

Gone where?  Gone from my sight.  That is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and span as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination.  Her diminished size is in me, not her.  And just at that moment when someone at my side said, "She is gone" there are other eyes watching her coming and other souls taking up the glad shout, "There she comes."

That is dying.

Chief Horse Holder


Virginia Mowen - August 22, 2011
John Mowen - December 15, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mad MacGyver Skillz...We Gots Em!

Public Service Announcement:  This is probably the longest post I've done, and it was raining so we both look like drowned rats in the some of these photos.

It took a little doing, but I have finally figured out what does and does not work for keeping the canker hole clean and dry, and we are settling into a routine.

Here's the line up:

And here's an overview:

I'm cracking myself up here.  

We have an assortment of socket wrenches, a hand drill, hammer, bolts and washers, several hoofpicks, tweezers, Softcups, OB tampons, plastic baggies, gloves, and the medication.  It's quite a bucketful of supplies.

We go through a lot of bolts.  The picture below shows what happens when a draft horse wears them.  It makes it really difficult to get them off once he's ruined them, so I carry several different socket wrenches with me.

First I use a big heavy hammer to crush up the pills in a plastic sandwich baggie.

Then I put the cream into a softcup and add the crushed pills.  We had liquid in the beginning, but it did not mix well with the crushed pills, and it was just a real pain to get into the hole without spilling all over me.  Plus it stunk to high heaven.

Then I mix the cream and pills together.  Normally I do wear gloves to do this.  I've had numb fingers and a nasty taste in my mouth too many times from sticking my bare fingers into some of Tommy's medication.  In this instance I've used this combination many times and know there's no side effects for me so I've become a little lazy with the gloves.

My mixture wasn't quite right, so I'm adding a little more cream and will mix it in.

It's baby tampon time!  OB's are the perfect size to fit into the hole in Tommy's hoof.  It's kind of scary isn't it???  

Here's our work area.  We use an old blue tarp, and a couple bags of shavings.

I use two sawdust bales because I don't want to hold Tommy's leg up that long any more than he does.  It didn't take him long to figure out that this was much easier, and we're both all about the easy route!  He will occasionally put his weight down onto the bales and the entire thing just lowers.  Better them than me.  

I also do this at feeding time.  He doesn't get much feed, but at least he's got a little something to occupy him.  

I use the drill to take off the bolts and washers.  The plate was set up so that I could just remove three bolts and use the fourth as a hinge, however I've found it's easier just to take the entire thing off.  That way if he pulls back and slams his hoof down I don't have to worry about the plate bending, or him stepping on it and ripping it off, or any other damage he could probably do with it.   That happened quite a bit in the beginning of the hospital plate process.

Tommy's been very good about the drill.  Even when it rattles the plate while tightening a bolt he stands for it.  I can tell you this scenario wouldn't have played out this easily had it been Weapon.

The pinkish blob you see in the hoof is the old softcup and tampon and the mud/dirt that's creeped between the hoof and shoe.  The mud you see is on the surface and has not worked past the softcup and tampon.  

I remove them and then clean out any mud that's gotten between the plate and under the copper silicone.  Then I use peroxide to disinfect it.

I take the softcup with the medication already inside it and push it up into the hole.  I'm basically flipping it inside out so that the medication is against the interior of the hoof and lined by the plastic of the softcup.  Then I put the OB into the hole to secure the softcup.  The softcups have a pink rubber ring along the outer edge, and it will smoosh together, so I can flip on side a bit under the lip of the shoe, and the other side under the silicone.

I have to admit that this photo was a surprise when I saw it because I thought I'd had all of the dirt off the silicone.  Since viewing this, I've since added a handheld LED light to my equipment.

I try to keep my supplies close, but it never seems to be quite close enough.  I especially hate it when I drop a bolt and have to search for it.

Once everything's been put in place and I'm happy with it, I slap the hospital plate back on and start the bolts. Then I use the drill to tighten everything up.

I've tried plastic baggies, saran wrap, and condoms, but the softcups and OBs seem to work the best.  If it's rainy and wet the tampon is sometimes soaked through, but as long as he's in the stall or in the feed lot I've not yet had problems keeping the interior of the hole clean/dry.  It's not a solution for more than a little bit of mud, and absolutely no water deep enough to cover the hoof.  I see another winter spent primarily in the barn and feed lot for Tommy.  Luckily Tommy doesn't seem to care if he's there...his hay is closer that way!

I'd like to breathe a big sigh of relief here, but we still have the entire winter ahead of us.  So I'll just give a tiny sigh and hope that the snow and ice don't throw us back to the drawing board.

Operation Hospital Pads Keep Out Mud and Dirt: FAIL

Well that title pretty much sums it up.  

All the work Mark did to create those shoes and plate, and it's not working.  It's not "kinda" not working. There's not a little bit of dirt inside the plate.  It's REALLY not working.  There was mud packed into the hole, in the access area, and under some of the blue silicone.

Awesome.  Lots of rain of course.  While the pasture wasn't standing in mud everywhere there was definately mud around the main gate, water trough, hay rack, and the entry to the run in shed.  I cleaned it out and medicated it again.  I really packed the hole with the gauze this time to see if it made a difference.


So Tommy went straight from the horse pasture into a stall that opens onto an empty concrete feed lot.  It's not ideal for the ringbone by a long shot, but neither is not being able to clear out the Canker.  

I have another gripe too.

This hospital pad is a PAIN to get off and on.  I thought it would be No Problem.  Tommy's waaaay used to me working with his hooves.  This one in particular, and I thought it would be a simple matter of propping his hoof on my knee the way we used to do and taking off the plate.  


It's way more difficult.  Plus Tommy keeps shearing down the bolts so the socket wrench won't grab them.  And two of the four bolt threads in his $200 custom shoes are stripped.  So I can hardly get them in OR out.

I can't imagine having to deal with this all winter.  We haven't even had any sleet, snow, or  really cold weather yet.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fat Feet Shoes

I swear, if I was a draft horse farrier that's what I'd call my business.  Fat Feet Shoes.  I'd have a big horse trailer full of shoeing stuff.  And a random dog getting into my stuff.

I would also have a Chief Horse Holder.

I would probably not be able to make shoes like this though because I'd end up hammering my hand.

See how glowing hot they are?  I wish the red would have shown up better in the photos.  This was my first experience with hot shoeing.  I was way impressed.  Tommy's shoe started out as a big metal bar.

Mark turned them into this:

Notice the size?  That's not my 10 year old son holding the shoe.  Yea, those fit big big boys!

Here's Tommy wearing his custom shoe.  Sorry for the off center picture.  I was holding his hoof and taking photos at the same time.  You can see the packing in the hole on the left.  It's blending in to the hoof, so a bit difficult to see.

Then he put on the hospital plate.  It's a big piece of aluminum.

Four bolts hold it in place.  I unbolt three of them, and the fourth acts as a hinge.

Here's the finished shoe, minus the hospital plate.  You can see the opening between the bar and the hoof in these photos.  Previously his leather pad was between the hoof and the shoe, so there were no gaps.

In this photo you can see the last remnant of the original hole.  It's behind the last nail almost to the rear corner of his hoof.  So if anyone is paying attention to the timeframe that was a growth period of 7 1/2 months.  I hope that I'm able to successfully manage this canker site with the hospital plate on; because if I'm not then Dr. A is going to drill through the top of the hoof so I can medicate down instead of up.  That means all things being equal I'll have another 7 1/2 months before that hole is fully grown out.

Then it was time to inject the copper silicone into the space between the hoof and the plate.  I may be calling that by the incorrect name.  I know it was blue because it had copper in it.  This will help keep any thrush from infecting the frog area, and will keep out mud and dirt.

Then he used a big torch to heat up the plate to help the silicone set up quicker. 

Once it firmed up, he opened up the plate to remove the packing from the hole.  The blue is now soft, but firmly in place.  The packing was there to keep the silicone from filling in the hole.

Here's the finished product!  

Here's hoping that this works.  I'm committed to giving it a try.  I'd like to be able to keep Tommy at home this winter and save on the boarding bills, and I know Tommy would like to be able to be outside in the mud where he's happiest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's not an Abscess....

Hello Handsome.  

You look a little worried.  What's behind you?

Hmmmm.  What is that green thing?

Is that steam rising out of it?  It IS!  It's liquid nitrogen my dear, and your hoof is about to be very, very, verrry cold!

Here comes Dr. A with a little injection.  Oh, who am I kidding.  It's a BIG injection; and you get one on both sides of your leg.

Now that you're all numbed up it's time to start cutting out the Canker.

I'm jealous.

I wish I had a vet tech at home to hold the light for me.

See how handy it is?  The Canker is all cleared out now.

Time to put the medicine in the hole.  It's a mixture of two things, whose names are escaping me at the moment.  I know the little white pills were the same things we smashed up and mixed up for the abscess back in the spring.  I hope it works this time too.

All done!  See, that wasn't so bad.

And don't we have a great vet and farrier?  Dr. A and Mark never whine about having their pictures taken, or roll their eyes, or make little snide comments.  And they hold the hoof and pose when needed.  Thanks guys; you're the best!