Forrest and I have just returned from one of the most educational and enjoyable...well, I guess you could call it ... a "summit." Let me 'splain:
My banjo-pickin,' Frank Zappa-lovin' equine vet, Dr. Bibi Freer, in her unassuming and altruistic manner, decided a few years ago that instead of regarding one another warily as competitors, it would be nice if both the medical and shoeing professionals in our area came together for a monthly "Farrier Jam" at her farm. And I couldn't wait to tell you all about it because there is no reason whatsoever that this couldn't be replicated in every horse community around the country!
To be eligible for a Farrier Jam, your horse must be submitted by your farrier. For example, maybe you have a horse with navicular or ringbone or "shelly feet" or, as Forrest has, flat soles and underslung heels that my farrier, Sean Gaul, has been tackling with every trim since Forrest arrived last Christmas.
Sean, well respected in our community, is on top of the situation. But we will soon be putting shoes on Forrest, now that his hooves have had a chance to expand and grow, and Farrier Jam made sense to attend because, for just $200 per horse (monies go into a pot that is used for supplies so no one attending is out-of-pocket), you get ... well, let's let Forrest tell you the rest:
"First of all, I was led into Dr Bibi's barn, where all these farriers and three different vets stared at my legs and feet. Frankly, it sort of gave me the creeps. It was nearly dinner time and I was hungry!"
"Next, I was taken outside onto the grass, which was nice, as I'm barefoot, and they had me trot back and forth, several times. All the farriers and vets watched me move and then they all mumbled together."
"Don't ask me why, but then they brought me back into the barn, slapped Play-doh in my front hooves, made me stand on wooden blocks, told me not to worry, everything was very safe (although they covered themselves up with lead aprons) and held a yellow box near my hooves that made a clicking sound."
"Dr. Bibi then said these were digital X-rays and she put them up on a big screen in the barn and all the farriers and vets stood around, rubbing their chins and mumbling. Mom asked about a "Palmar angle," whatever that is, and Dr. Bibi said, 'Considering how low his left heel is, I am very happy with the Palmar angle in both feet and there are no navicular changes and there is a good indication of blood flow.' Then Mom said, 'Whew!'"
"The next thing that happened was that Dr. Bibi asked the group to throw out suggestions, now that they had studied the X-rays, of how I should be trimmed and what sort of shoeing I should have when I begin to wear shoes again in a month. It was very democratic in that the majority ruled with a simple vote. However, all the farriers and the vets agreed that the way Sean had been trimming my hooves was exactly the correct way and nothing should change. So, Sean took me into the side aisle and went ahead and trimmed me."
"If you look back to my earliest blogs, you'll see how underslung my heels were and how awfully flat my soles were. Sean was very happy when he finished trimming me that my heel had grown and moved forward, where it should be, by about an inch and a half. Not only that, but the soles of my hooves are finally showing a bit of a cup!"
"So, all in all, for $200, what a great deal! I was really wanting to go home, but my Mom wanted to stay and watch the next horse being presented, who had had awful 'white line' disease awhile back, with a rotated 'coffin bone.' She said it was 'very educational' for both herself and everyone else. However, I told her it was getting dark and I wanted my dinner, so back into the trailer I went with my brand new trim.
Until next week..."