The following hoof photos were taken a few days after Harley's last trim, which was last year. ;)
|Left front: Oops, turned the camera, but look how straight that outside bar has become.|
|Left hind with some nice tail|
|Right front: The bars used to have flaky stuff that extended toward the apex of the frog.|
|Right hind: Almost nothing to take off the hinds this time of year.|
To which experiment am I referring?
Could it be the magnificent magnesium?
Or the regular bar trims?
(I trimmed his front bars a tiny bit since these photos.)
The alfalfa pellets?
Since Harley was sick, he has not taken any of his supplements. The vet wanted to eliminate any extra variables, including possible kidney taxing, when we did not know what was wrong with him (Just in case you missed it, he had a virus.). I am also having him allergy tested, so I decided not to give him any supplements until I see his allergy panel. My vet also recommended that I stop giving him the electrolytes (mineral/sodium chloride supplement and magnesium) until the summer when he is sweating more and loosing salts regularly. Even though this threw a wrench in my hopes to see how magnesium affected his feet, I have to listen to my vet. And she also reassured me that we are not in an area known for mineral deficient hay. When his blood work came back, his mineral levels looked good, although I will say that magnesium was not on the test and we are talking water soluble minerals which need to be replenished daily. Since he is on a pelleted complete feed, I probably do not need to worry about it. He does have free choice salt (sodium chloride) in his paddock.
So my horse has been eating his pelleted feed, beet pulp, and alfalfa pellets (along with more than half a 40 lb. bale of hay throughout the day). Last week, three (count them THREE) people walked by and said,
"I think he looks a little bulkier." and
"Is he gaining?" and
"Looking better, Harley."
Are they just trying to make me feel better? His coat is thick so that can be misleading, but I think that I have to agree. I *think* that Harley is gaining weight and since the alfalfa is really the only new thing...
Alfalfa is the good experiment, but not just for that reason.
|November 25, 2011|
|January 1, 2012: A little rounder, maybe?|
|He is standing with a different posture, too. His front legs are more perpendicular to the ground. Was he experiencing some discomfort at the back of the foot a month ago? Maybe it was just that picture. Harley says, "Don't objectify me!"|
I believe that his feet have changed slightly. I do not know if you can see it in the photos, but I think that the back of his feet are slightly wider and his heels look more substantial. The central sulcus of his fronts seem to have opened up a bit. I treat them if the conditions are wet, which they are right now. And that is partly my point. The ground is a muddy mess, but I look at Harley's feet and aside from the frog looking a little haggard from the wet, I think that his feet look great. The bars are standing up much straighter, which has been progressive improvement due to regular trims, so that could be why, BUT could it be the food, too? Diet is so important to feet. Trimming will only take you so far, which is why I looked to the magnesium. I do not know what I was hoping to see happen. Am I observing the effects of the removal of magnesium, rather than the addition of alfalfa? Hmmm. Probably not, but no way to know for sure.
Here is the other good experiment, although it is only an experiment, because it is new to my horse:
Harley wears his blanket at night, unless it is warm. We have had several warm nights (above 40 degrees Fahrenheit) last month, so sometimes he did not wear his new blue duds. My barn friends who help care for the horses have reported that Harley "likes his blanket". They suspect this because he wears it nicely all night, without trying to shift it around, and stands stock still when he is being dressed. Thankfully, that must also mean that I bought him the right size (75" Weatherbeeta). This makes me very happy, but not without creeping feelings of guilt.
"Why didn't I get him one sooner?"
This is, no doubt, also contributing to his ability to maintain weight, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. The winter has only just begun!