Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Too Much Information, Not Enough Knowledge

At the little barn of paradise, we've been searching for a new farrier since this time last year. I've given up one horse (Dar) and acquired another (Saxony), and still the quest for a farrier has dragged on. We met a new farrier on Sunday. He stopped to look at Saxony first, who's just down the road. I led her in the barn, money in hand, and told him about her arthritis diagnosis, assuming it was pertinent information. He startled me by telling to me to keep my money so I could apply it toward the cost of shoes in front for her. Shoes, rim pads and drill tack, to be precise.

I've never owned a horse who needed shoes, ever. It's not a problem for me to learn about it; I'm always forward leaning when it comes to understanding my horses and their needs. What threw me about this, though, is the skull-press of conflicting opinions. It's one of the hardest parts of owning a horse, I think. I only ever want to do what's right for my horses, but how can I know what that is when my skill-set is not infinite?

Backstory. I had a prepurchase exam done on Saxony. The vet who handled it detected something in Saxony's right rear pastern during the flex tests. She attributed it to a touch of arthritis. Nevertheless, I moved on and bought the sweet, sane girl. Several weeks ago my regular vet met Saxony, something I wrote about here.

During that visit, Dr. B mentioned that Saxony was slightly offset in her front left leg and that she paddled a bit. "Offset" and "paddling" were words new to me in the context of horses. Naturally, I pulped my brain to mush doing way too many internet searches in the following days, where wildly divergent opinions ranged from rendering plant prospect to Grand Prix Dressage candidate.

Information: 1, Education: 0

Here comes this new farrier, then, who bluntly informs me that Saxony needs shoes up front, that she may not have arthritis at all. And he seems to know his stuff, if only because I don't know his stuff.

Information: 2, Education: 0 

All of it started me hamster-wheeling to the enth degree, swinging dizzily from I bought a lemon! to There's nothing this mare can't do!  Yikes. I made some calls. The first was to another farrier, one who'd trimmed Saxony for her previous owner. I was hoping he'd give me a second opinion. "There's nothing wrong with that mare," he said. "No horse is perfect." I know that. I completely do know that. What I want is to not do anything to hurt Saxony or worsen her "condition," if she has one.

Information: 3, Education: 0 

I called my vet and told her about the shoe-happy farrier. I told her about the other farrier. I jabbered about winging and paddling and defect and floating the heel. She was very kind to me. That's why we pay them the big bucks. "Let's take some X-rays and see what's there," she said. Bingo. I'd rather spend my money on education than a bottle of Loon-A-Way.


Annette said...

It sounds like you have a great vet. I can talk to my vet that way too -- just blabber and she picks out the pertinent stuff and suggests something logical. Good luck on the farrier front. Good ones are hard to come by.

Denali's Mom said...

There is nothing like a good vet! I would rather put my money into x-rays than shoes. I don't like shoes on a horse unless they really need them. I think they have their place, but farriers TERRIFY ME and well...everything terrifies me...

ALSO!! Denali bought you a gift!! It's been sitting on my dresser since DECEMBER (yes. I know....) I hope to get it in the mail this week.

Wolfie said...

A few years back we had our basement renovated. We called in a highly recommended company for a quote. Part of that quote was tearing down all of the existing drywall, ceiling, etc. and starting from scratch. Our second quote was basically the same. The third company actually gave us a quote based on using all of the existing drywall, etc. When I told him that the other two companies recommended tearing down everything, he explained that some companies preferred to approach a reno that way because it's easier for THEM to start building from scratch; it avoided having to deal with any potential challenges that working around existing walls/ceilings might have. In our case, he didn't think it was necessary to pull down everything and he didn't mind a challenge if there were some. Of course we hired him and he did a wonderful job and has done other renos for us. :-) The reason I am sharing this story is that sometimes service providers just do what's best or easiest for them and not necessarily what's right for the customer. Is this farrier doing what's best for Saxony or what's best/easiest for him? My basement reno was sort of a life lesson for me. Perhaps this farrier is the right one for you, but your vet will help you decide. Sorry for the ramble. Good luck!!

smazourek said...

Farriers make their money by nailing metal onto hooves, of course that's what he would suggest. Boots provide as much, if not more, protection as shoes without the side effect of distorting hoof growth and shape, you only put them on when you need them, and they are a ton more cost effective. A $120 pair of boots can last more than a year.

If she does have arthritis I'd feel uncomfortable about the concussion that shoes would put on her joints. I hope that the x-rays come up negative.

Muddy K said...

You guys, thank you for these helpful, understanding comments. Wolfie, that story relates in a really smart way. Smaz, I'm probably not entitled to my view without any experience, but I'm really resistant to shoeing in general, let alone shoeing Sax. This new farrier also told me to shoe Scout. In the seven years I've owned her, her feet have been nothing but rock solid. DM and Annette, where would we be without kind and patient vets?

I'll post the X-ray results on Friday, hoping to report there's very little to worry about. She's such a wonderful mare.

Anonymous said...

Sending good thoughts your way. I know how frustrating it can be getting so many different opinions. You just wish they could tell you where it hurts, life would be so much easier!

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. When something goes wrong with a horse we have little choice but to turn to the professionals where we lack indept knowledge ourselves, but even then it can be difficult to make decisions with regards to treatment. When Minnie damaged her tendon I was given different prognoses by different vets and even a wrong diagnosis. I also needlessly had front shoes put on her, something I regretted almost immediately. In the end I made my decisions based on instinct. I hope all goes well with Saxony, she is a lovely mare.

Denali's Mom said...

Award for you on my blog. :)