Say What?

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There’s so much advice out there in the horse world, some of it great, some of it awful, and anything in between. We only need advice when we don’t know what to do, so how are we to decipher good advice from bad unless we already know the answer?!? And why would we need advice if we already knew the answer anyway!

There’s never a shortage of advice when we have a question. Passing on advice and helping people makes us feel valued, increases our confidence and can even raise our status in society! Who said helping people was selfless!! (says the one who’s career is based on helping people – I should probably be careful here hey!?)

Have you noticed how you never get one piece of advice? When you have a question, you generally get advice from multiple different sources and much of it conflicts, so you end up more confused than when you started.

How do you decide which advice to follow?

It’s tempting take the piece of advice that sounds the easiest to follow. Sometimes that’s going to work out well. Other times it’s the opposite of what you need to do. The thing that’s easiest is often the thing that’s most similar to what you’re already doing, but what you’re already doing is what got you into the problem in the first place…

There’s a few ways to evaluate advice.

There’s the advice itself, does it sound like a good idea? Is it possible for you to implement it?

You could choose the most commonly heard advice, because if everyone says so it must be true!

You could go with advice of the person you like and trust the most, though this isn’t always the person with the greatest knowledge on the subject

You could evaluate the experience of the person giving the advice.

The last 2 are the ones I’m most interested in, as they can be the most confusing. In my world the biggest cause of distress for an owner is when their vet and their hoof care provider disagree.

The owner is stuck in the middle with a decision to make. They trust their vet, and they trust their hoof care provider, but the advice they’re giving is totally opposite. Is there a way to know which way to go?

One way that could help is to look at the experience of the professional. I don’t just mean who’s been practicing the longest, but what have they been practicing?

If a vet is really against going barefoot, how much experience do they have of transitioning shod horses to barefoot? It may be none at all, in which case, while they’re able to advise on shoeing strategy, they’re not drawing on experience when it comes to barefoot advice.

In fact, I’m not sure anyone, regardless of their qualifications should be advising on going barefoot, if they don’t have any experience of it. That doesn’t make going barefoot wrong for your horse, it makes them the wrong person to advise you about whether or not your horse can go barefoot.

I wouldn’t advise on shoeing because most of my experience is with barefoot horses. I can, and do advise on improving the hooves of shod horses, as I know about hooves, but that’s not the same thing as knowing about shoeing.

I’ve even advised some people not to go barefoot, or to reshoe their horse. On one occasion I had to talk the vet into shoeing the horse as he really wanted the horse to be barefoot (that counts as one of the strangest conversations I’ve had).

On another occasion where I strongly advised someone not to take the shoes off, they did anyway because the farrier advised it.

Finding out why someone is advising something is really important. It could be that they have different priorities.

In the first case the horse’s well-being was improved by reducing the stress in the owner’s life. In the second case there was an undiagnosed lameness in a hind leg.
Doing something that could introduce a second soundness issue probably wasn’t going to help the problem.

That second case was a wonderful example of knowing who advice is meant for. The lady with the lame horse, needed advice on conditioning the hooves. She never asked me directly but would hide round the corner to listen to conversations with the client I had on the same yard.

The problem there was, my client had a 6yo always barefoot, and rock crunching cob. The advise I gave for the cob couldn’t have been less suitable for the lame, 20+yo thoroughbred who was just out of shoes.

When getting advice, putting it in context, and getting perspective on where the advice is coming from makes it much easier to decide which advice is right for you.

Making sure the person giving the advice knows what’s important to you is another way to make sure advice suits you. Do you want results as fast as possible regardless of how much effort that entails, or is a slow and steady path more suitable?

It’s important to that you trust the person giving you advice, but trusting them doesn’t make them an expert in what you’re asking them about. You may have the best saddler in the world, but that doesn’t mean you should take their advice on hoof care.

Never be afraid to ask someone what their experience is!

Have you found yourself stuck between 2 people you trust and not known what was best for your horse?
Are you in the lucky position to have all the professionals you use agreeing?

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below
Debs

  • Sarah Hamilton says:

    I had a foal with carpal valgus that straightened up when she was about 10 weeks old. Unfortunately, she then started to go carpal varus. I was worried sick and contacted my trimmer a couple of times a week asking for advice. Should I get the vet? She said “No”, and then “I don’t know” but she persuaded me trust her and for another 2 months I didn’t call the vet. Long story short, the foals growth plates closed with an asymmetry and she is now pigeon toed. The vet flipped out at the trim she had been receiving and implied that the trimmer had over corrected the valgus presentation. It is heartbreaking and very frustrating. Who should I have trusted? The trimmer is someone considered at the top of her game (with adult horses).

    • Debs Crosoer says:

      That’s a really difficult one. I’m really sorry it worked out like that. You can only ever go with your gut. I can’t comment on what the trimmer did, but I do know it’s easy for someone to say the wrong thing was done after it hasn’t worked. Without the hindsight they may well have made a similar decision. Sadly, even experienced professionals get it wrong sometimes.

      What I can say though is pigeon toes don’t often cause any sort of problem for a horse as long as they get regular hoof care, which it sounds like yours does.

  • Barbara Smith says:

    Don’t do it, I called the vet end January 2012 because I had an extremely lame horse, right side hind foot.

    He had been bf for at least 2 years, no problems until I did a stupid thing, I put my horses in the field behind my house, with the dairy cows who were pregnant. It was January and it meant I could check on them at all times and just bring them across the lane into my paddock at night, I left stable doors open and fodder in and around the stables as usual for my two horses. The vet dug out the sole of the Appaloosa’s hoof, it is still growing out. I had to call vet on two more occasions, the last time because we were moving from midlands to cornwall and my gelding was lame again, that time, I actually got the bf trimmer and a lovely young open-minded vet to treat my horse together with lots of hums and scratched chins. He was too lame to move but the furniture was being packed into lorry, so something had to be done, they dug it out again, short term relief but long term hoof damage. That was May last year, all this time later, my brilliant bf lady has almost got that hoof back to original shape/size and the blessed abscess burst itself after four eruptions over that time, in January this year.

    Get the best bf trimmer/advice and stick to it. Do not put horses in dairy meadow, even in mid winter, if the abscess erupts again, make neddy as comfy as possible, move it as much as possible and then take to the brandy and do not call vet. They always want to dig and that is counter productive. In all my 60 odd years of horse loving/owning, this is the first abscess I have had to deal with and never want another one. By the way, my bf trimmer just happened to mention that my 17.2 ex chaser had ‘thrown an abscess’ and I never even noticed, it all sorted itself. So better without my intervention wasn’t it?

  • Barbara Smith says:

    Don’t do it, I called the vet end January 2012 because I had an extremely lame horse, right side hind foot.

    He had been bf for at least 2 years, no problems until I did a stupid thing, I put my horses in the field behind my house, with the dairy cows who were pregnant. It was January and it meant I could check on them at all times and just bring them across the lane into my paddock at night, I left stable doors open and fodder in and around the stables as usual for my two horses. The vet dug out the sole of the Appaloosa’s hoof, it is still growing out. I had to call vet on two more occasions, the last time because we were moving from midlands to cornwall and my gelding was lame again, that time, I actually got the bf trimmer and a lovely young open-minded vet to treat my horse together with lots of hums and scratched chins. He was too lame to move but the furniture was being packed into lorry, so something had to be done, they dug it out again, short term relief but long term hoof damage. That was May last year, all this time later, my brilliant bf lady has almost got that hoof back to original shape/size and the blessed abscess burst itself after four eruptions over that time, in January this year.

    Get the best bf trimmer/advice and stick to it. Do not put horses in dairy meadow, even in mid winter, if the abscess erupts again, make neddy as comfy as possible, move it as much as possible and then take to the brandy and do not call vet. They always want to dig and that is counter productive. In all my 60 odd years of horse loving/owning, this is the first abscess I have had to deal with and never want another one. By the way, my bf trimmer just happened to mention that my 17.2 ex chaser had ‘thrown an abscess’ and I never even noticed, it all sorted itself. So better without my intervention wasn’t it?

    • Debs Crosoer says:

      Sounds like you’ve had quite the journey Barbara. Abscesses can be such a pain for such a long time, or, like you said, resolve themselves before you even notice them.

      I’ve found the hoof usually recovers far better if the abscess bursts on it’s own, however there have been rare occasions where intervention is necessary. Like with most things, you can never say never.

  • HelenL says:

    I’m in exactly this situation right now! My horse had a couple of abscesses a while ago but still seemed lame so I called the vet who decided to dig out a large hole in each foot. She pronounced that TBs needed shoeing and advised I get the farrier out to put shoes on to protect her feet now they’d been dug out almost to live tissue. Neither I nor my trimmer (EP) can understand why shoes would provide more protection than my hoof boots but feel that we should follow vets advise for now otherwise vet will not look for any other possibly cause of lameness.

    • Debs Crosoer says:

      I really feel for you Helen.

      You are allowed to disagree with your vet, and/or get a second opinion if you like. If you’re not getting good service from anyone, vote with your feet. (no pun intended).

      I can’t see how a shoe will help identify the lameness at all, regardless of abscesses and/or holes in the hoof, but if you have a vet who is determined to blame your lack of shoes, you definitely don’t have a team of people all working in the same direction.

      I’ve been in similar situations as an EP before. It’s really hard on everyone. The best advice I can give you, is to look at what you really want to achieve, and put a plan together that moves you in that direction.

      How long ago were the abscesses and what kind of lameness is your horse showing now? I’m happy to give you my opinion too – but more opinions may be exactly what you don’t want 🙂

      Email me through the contact form hoofgeek.com/contact if you want my input (and it’s absolutely fine if you don’t)

      Debs

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