Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seedy Toes

By now Starr was twelve, and I had a new boyfriend. We decided to go on holiday to the Seychelles, and stay on my family’s property there for a month, camping out. I had to find somewhere to livery Starr while we were away, and found a place just around the corner, a nice woman who kept a stable full of huge cart horses. It seemed the ideal place, within easy riding distance, and so I left him there while we went away. I returned on the allotted date, and immediately went to collect my horse and pony. To my horror, Starr was covered in big, fat grey ticks.

I was shocked and disgusted, and wouldn’t have been any the wiser, except the woman had thought I was arriving the following day, and had intended to remove all the ticks before then, I must assume. I was furious, and so was Starr. I had left him in this disgusting place, and he was not happy with me. He showed his displeasure by nipping me on the arm, not even hard enough to hurt, but it certainly showed how angry he was with me.

About a month later, I noticed that there was something wrong with Starr’s back feet. The hoof wall was separated from the lamina, but I wasn’t sure what the problem was. For many years, a friend’s groom had been trimming my horses’ feet, since none of them was shod, and he seemed to do a good job of it. He was a lot cheaper than a farrier, too. When I discovered the problem, though, I immediately found a proper farrier and had him look at Starr’s feet. He said it was seedy toe, and the separated hoof wall had to be cut away. He cut and cut, while I watched with growing horror as my horse’s hooves vanished.

By the time Paul had finished, only about an inch of hoof remained below the coronets, and the outlook was bleak. He told me it would take about a year for the hoof wall to grow back down to the ground, and the chances were that Starr would develop one, perhaps even two, dropped soles. I called the State Vet, wanting only the best for my horse. He told me Starr would need operations, and his feet would still not recover fully, even then. He recommended that I put Starr down. I never called him again.

Preventing Starr from running around was impossible. He wasn’t even lame, and although I didn’t ride him for that year, he still galloped around in the paddock, and there was nothing I could do to prevent him. His hooves slowly grew back to the ground, and Paul kept their shape correct. One sole dropped, the other seemed fine, and a year later his feet were recovered and he seemed fine, except for being a bit tender on that dropped foot. I started riding him again, and all seemed fine. If he was lame at all on that dropped sole, it wasn’t noticeable. I thought I had dodged a bullet, and Starr had too. We continued our solo out rides, and all was well.

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