Saturday, September 8, 2012

So, what's the latest on Commander the Booted Wonder Pony?

The Mighty Morgan is mighty happy I bought him those boots. I’m mighty happy too, even though it’s still a (much smaller) pain getting him back into them after they’re removed for cleaning. He’s much improved in picking his feet up without fuss or (much) resistance for taking off and putting on, but those hooves don’t stay elevated for long! It still takes a few tries to get everything precisely aligned in the brief seconds the foot’s airborne.

As to the larger boots I’d mentioned getting for him: They arrived, with the standard orthotics (bright turquoise color) inside, and fit him very well. He seemed at first all right in them, but after about 24 hours he was looking stiff-legged again. Verdict: the standard orthotics are just too firm. So I put him back into the smaller pair, and he went back to being comfortable.

The fit of the second pair was snug; not all that much different from the first pair. Why? Because the vet-prescribed orthotic pads in the first pair crush down somewhat and become thinner than the Soft-Ride ones, so there’s more room inside the boot. This means I can continue to use the first pair as backups and switch-outs for the larger pair, which I can now use as his primary boots because I exchanged the founder orthotics bought for the first boots for a pair of size-larger, super-duper-softer, screamingly-bright-purple orthotics. When they arrived on Thursday, I stuffed them into the larger boots, stuffed the MM in after them, and through last night Commander was still quite comfy on them.

Courtesy of Patty at SRH Vet (egad but those are great folks there!) I also have a custom-trimmed set of the hockey puck orthotics to put in the larger boots, if the purple pillows don’t work out after all.

Ben’s now getting turnout from breakfast to supper, with access to the field all the time except when Commander’s with him. He hides a lot from bugs in the run-in but is enjoying his expanded freedom. Commander gets a couple of hours out with him at midday, weather and my schedule permitting, spends the rest of the afternoon in the corner vacation stall, and goes out for another half hour or so at suppertime while I fluff pillows before bringing them both in to their stalls for the night. At the midday and sometimes at the evening turnout I take Commander for a walk around the driveway loop for a bit of added exercise. If the MM continues to thrive on all this I’ll be trying to expand him to all-afternoon turnout.



In a word: Success.

Commander got put out around 12:30 today. In the hour or so I was there doing chores, he and Ben drifted in and out of the shed, nibbling at grass nubbins, nibbling from haybags, nibbling on each other, or just hanging out. When I got to the barn about 6:00, Commander and Ben were in the run-in snoozing side by side/front to back. The manure piles indicated they’d continued their eddying when I was gone.

I led Commander out and walked him up and down the driveway. He was a little bit stiff at first (as he is when coming out of his stall; I think it’s from immobility rather than foot pain) but then strode out freely. After a few minutes’ exercise I parked him in the corner stall and got his and Ben’s rooms ready for the night. (I muck both stalls at midday but don’t pull down the clean shavings; instead I leave the wet spots bare to air out for the afternoon.) Then I took him out for another driveway jaunt before tucking him into his overnight quarters.

Commander’s swinging from the shoulder when he walks now, picking up his knees and stepping long. It is still a somewhat odd-looking gait compared to pre-founder, but I think that’s just from the clunkiness of the boots themselves rather than discomfort. It’s the best I’ve seen him move (and Maria and Peter, watching from the house, agreed) in quite a while.

So it looks like we’re good to go for a New! Improved! schedule: Ben out at breakfast, free to the field; Commander out at midday, the boys confined to close quarters; Commander in when I arrive at suppertime, while Ben gets a bit more grass time before curfew while I do evening chores.

What? Let Ben take off for the field at suppertime? Won’t it be a problem catching him? Ha! When I went to fetch him this evening, I walked a little way into the grass paddock where he was grazing, held the halter out open in front of me, and called him. He walked right up and shoved his nose into it. Ben’s not the brightest horse I’ve ever known, but he is well aware that coming in for the night means: (1) no more bugs, (2) lots of hay, and (3) mash!

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