What's New: Roll

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What’s New with Roll? X-Rays & Chiropractic

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Roll was doing better and then all of a sudden he was very lame in his left hind foot again on February 10th. The only thing we could think of was that he must have twisted it and maybe even caught the boot on something in his pen when he was trying to get up.

He was very warm all over with sweat at his chest, underbelly, around his ears and between his legs. It was an unusually warm day and because it had been so cold and I had not clipped the mules’ bridle paths in a very long time. So, to help cool him off, I clipped his bridle path and sure enough, he began to get cooler and dry off.

We took his temperature and it was in the normal range.

We took x-rays to make sure there were no fractures and there was nothing but the rotation we had seen before.

After our veterinarian Greg Farrand dug around in the hoof, he did find a spot between the frog and the bulb of the heel that seemed to be sensitive and starting to weep.

He was uneven in his hips and seemed to be affected in both legs although the left was worse than the right. We decided to wrap the foot in a poultice again and left off the easy boot in case it was the culprit.

Then we decided to put him on a regimen of “Bute” and call in the equine chiropractor. All we could do was wrap the poultice onto his left hind foot and wait.

On February 13, Roll was exceptionally sore today when our equine chiropractor Dave McClain came out to check him.

There was no real problem in the hip joint, but his fetlock really cracked when he adjusted it, so he was definitely out in that joint.

Dave adjusted the rest of his body and said there probably was nothing other than the fetlock that was affected in the joint, just in the muscles. He said Roll would probably be sore because it was such a dramatic adjustment.

We checked him again the next day and he does seem to be experiencing some improvement although he is still pretty sore. There is not a lot to do but pray and wait. He is undoubtedly having problems that stem from the first 17 years of his life moving in poor posture and not utilizing his body correctly.

 

LTR Presents: Double Time

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See our draft mules, Rock and Roll at work and play in the latest LTR Presents video!

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What’s New with Roll? Unexpected Lameness

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Roll came up lame in his left hind again today, so we called our veterinarian, Greg Farrand to come and check him. He had swelling in the fetlock joint and it appeared to have just begun. I supported his joint with a wrap so is would be easier for him to walk to the Tack Barn work station.

We checked for abscessing, but could not find anything. He did seem to be uncomfortable in the other hind foot as well, but not enough for real concern.

However, it is conceivable that it might not be an abscess, but problems arising from his inability to continue his core muscle strength and balance exercises during the time he was dealing with the White Line Disease.

Taking off a piece of the hoof wall where he tested sensitive seemed to relieve the pressure enough so he did have some improvement in his walk. We checked him all over and I even cut off his overgrown ergots while we were talking.

Greg though perhaps the abscess was just beginning, so we put a poultice on the left hind foot to draw out and escalate any inflammation in hopes of forcing it to weep so we could locate it if it was, in fact, an abscess.

We wrapped the hoof with the poultice and Vet Wrap.

And then put the whole foot in a custom-made easy boot that we had used when he had White Line Disease.

I led him around the room and he seemed to be experiencing some pain relief, so we opted to leave him like this for four days with a change of poultice every other day.

As you can see, our core muscle strengthening and balancing exercises really DO make a drastic difference in the overall shape and movement of the equine.

When dealing with an animal that spent so many years out of good posture, it is almost certain you will be faced with numerous issues from uneven wear and tear on the body over the years, especially as they age like Roll at 24 years. We just hope we can pull Roll through this so he can get back to having some fun with his healthy exercise program.

 

Let’s Roll!

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When draft mule, Roll, arrived at Lucky Three Ranch, he needed some special attention and rehabilitation. Watch what happens when Meredith Hodges sets out to help the gentle giant.

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What’s New with Roll? White Line Disease Update

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Roll’s bout with White Line Disease began on December 31, 2015 and did not look very promising considering we were dealing with a 3000 lb. animal with two-thirds of his hoof wall detached and full of fungus.

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Dean Geesen, our farrier dug out all the fungus from the compromised hoof and cut away the seriously detached hoof wall.

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Roll has recovered in record time with our due diligence and willingness to change up the program as needed. There is no cure-all for White Line Disease. It does have some protocol, but if you look back at our postings about Roll’s battle on my Facebook pages and in “What’s New?” on our website, you will see that things can change abruptly in a day.

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When dealing with something like this, one needs to think “outside the box” to keep up with the changes and keep the foot on the right track to grow back properly. It takes a whole team: the owner, the handlers, the vet and the farrier working together. We were constantly assessing the shape of the foot, tissue condition, pressure points and balance in the affected foot and hid overall mental and physical health.

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We watched the way he moved carefully each and every day. We had to assess how much he was compromising with weight distribution to his healthy feet and trimmed and shod them so they did not become damaged in the healing process.

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We did supplement his feed with Hoof Power and would recommend it above all other hoof supplements to help accelerate hoof growth. Dean Geesen, our farrier was certain that it would take better than a year to grow back the foot, if it could even be done. After the first three months, he wasn’t sure that Roll would actually make it.

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After today’s trim and a sound diagnoses, Dean admitted that he really didn’t think back in the beginning that he would recover like this. Thankfully, with the conscientious and diligent help from his management team, Roll got full hoof growth back in exactly one year and is now sound with four healthy hooves!

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What’s New with Roll? Progress Update

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Roll continues to improve after a bout with White Line Disease that began in January 2016. The White Line Disease in his left hind foot is almost completely grown out now!

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He is maintaining conditioning pretty much on his own with turnout since I did not want to add any stress to his routine while the hoof was still badly compromised. I was pleased to see that all the lessons that Roll has had for the past six years are firmly engrained in his brain.

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Over the past ten months, I have watched him doing his straight forward walking exercises in good equine posture and he continued to square up every time he stopped to rest.

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It truly has become his natural way of moving and kept the weight evenly distributed over all four feet during his recovery with the help of shoes on the other three feet to keep the hooves on the healthy feet from wearing unevenly from added weight-bearing.

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After the initial onset that lasted about four months, we did use product on the hoof (betadine solution, hoof supplement, etc.) as it was growing out, but once we got past the “critical” stages, we just kept it clean and trimmed properly to promote even growth.

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Everything looks great now, Roll is happy and he should be able to begin his lessons again soon!

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What’s New with Roll? Comparisons

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When Rock and Roll came to me in 2010, they were both in dire straits. We were able to keep both of them sound from December 2010 to December 2011 and although Rock had a shattered hip, with our core strength postural training exercises, he only needed Bute 3 times during that year for a five-day stretch. Roll was able to graduate from the postural leading training to lunging in the round pen and later ground driving. He met his final goal of being ridden around the hayfield, but had a set-back with White Line Disease in his left hind foot that began in January 2016. Roll is now 23 years old and the White Line Disease is practically all grown out now.

I could not be happier with his progress! Today Roll got the shoes replaced on three of his weight-bearing feet and a trim on the left hind.

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We put shoes on the three feet so that the balance of the feet would not be compromised as he tried to keep the weight off the injured foot. Our concern was the other three feet could become unhealthy if the weight was unevenly distributed.

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The affected foot is growing out nicely and we figure we only have two more trims until he is completely grown out.

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By paying attention to the weight-bearing surfaces, we were able to control not only the way the feet were growing, but the musculature in his body as well. He could very well have developed uneven muscle conditioning over the past seven months. Because of his core strength leading exercises and the changes we made in his body before he got the White Line, he was able to sustain his strength and good posture. At twenty-three years old, he continues to improve with each new day!

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What’s New with Roll? Farrier

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Our farrier, Dean Geesen, came out again today to check on Roll assisted by Lucky Three Ranch Manager, Chad. We let Roll go a little longer between trims this time to help with the healing of the White Line Disease. He is making good progress and has a lot of new hoof growth on his left hind. He is having no trouble bearing weight on it.

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The dead tissue is now only present on the lower half of his foot and the new growth is staying healthy so far.

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We have been fortunate to be able to keep him in good balance over the foot to prevent any more abnormal hoof growth and to promote healthy hoof growth. We put shoes on the other three feet to keep them from wearing unevenly during the healing process.

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What we have been doing has worked well. We opted to continue with shoes on three feet and to leave the White Line foot without shoes for one more stretch. We don’t want to compromise the foot with any nail holes quite yet.

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Even with all his issues, Roll has yet to experience one lame day since he first arrived at the Lucky Three in 2010. The White Line Disease began in January, so we are making good progress in a relatively short time. Thank you all for your prayers for Roll!

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What’s New with Roll? Wash Mane-Tail & Farrier

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It was a beautiful spring day today, so I took advantage of the warm weather and washed the dirt and baby oil out of Roll’s mane and tail before our farrier, Dean Geesen began to work on him.

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Then I went over his body with a regular hairbrush that pulls most of the loose underneath hair out. The hairbrush works better than any other shedding tool because it does not cut or damage the hair. We only use the shedding blades when the equines have mud on them and to scrape off excess water. He seemed to enjoy getting his mane and tail cleaned and his coat “aerated!” He sure looked amazing when I was done!

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Then Dean took off the boot on his left hind so we could see how the White Line Disease was doing. He has grown substantially more hoof and is staying balanced on it with our efforts on his behalf. Dean noticed that Roll is now putting pressure on his heel and a bit of pressure on the medial side of the hoof and on the toe.

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The boot, although taken off twice a day and dried out, appeared to be holding in more moisture than it was before, so Dean suggested that we let him go without the boot and see how he does. We thought he might stay drier now that the weather has been sunnier and drier overall. We are still getting intermittent rainstorms, but Roll prefers to stand inside his stall in the sawdust, so it may be that he can go without his boot…at least for a while.

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We did see a drop of blood on his sole and his sole was responsive to the hoof tester, so that confirmed for us that there is still circulation in the hoof…a really good thing! We were wondering about that.

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We did have to put the boot on his left hind while Dean worked on his right hind because now that he was “feeling” the sole, it was too much for him to bear all his weight on that hoof alone. We took off the boot afterwards, before we put him away.

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Dean had reset the right hind foot with the borium shoe to keep him from slipping and putting undue weight on his bad foot. That also seems to be working very well to keep his weight evenly distributed over all four feet.

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Brandy and Jubilee were curious about what was going on with Roll and the farrier as they passed by on the way to their lessons.

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All in all, staying flexible and attentive to his needs and all your prayers are helping Roll to get through all this quite nicely. I can only hope this good fortune continues for Roll’s sake!!

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What’s New with Roll? White Line Farrier

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Roll had his shoes replaced on the two front feet and the right rear today. Dean was very pleased to discover that on the left hind that has White Line Disease, he is growing hoof back at a rate of about 1/8th of an inch a week! We are encouraged that even though we are looking at months of recovery, if we can keep him balanced, he might actually make it! I am convinced that the balancing of his body and core strengthening exercises he has been doing for the past six years has really been the primary reason for him doing as well as he is. He weighs 3000 lbs. and that is a lot of weight to put on a damaged foot. Without the balance, the dispersement of his weight could have been irregular and put undue pressure on the fragile and damaged pieces left of the hoof wall. This could have caused a complete collapse of his hoof. This is always a consideration, so we are checking him regularly and will be replacing the Styrofoam pads with neoprene support pads in his boot every other day going forward after we can get them. The Styrofoam pads are wearing out too quickly. The other three feet are holding up well with no real signs of additional stress. He has yet to have one day of lameness at all since we got him in 2010. He is happy and showing no signs of pain. We will just continue as planned and make adjustments to our approach as needed.

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What’s New with Roll? White Line X-Rays

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On February 25, we discovered more White Line Disease on the medial side of the foot. We also discovered some strange growth that looked like new hoof growing out of the front of the coronet band and continuing around both sides of the hoof in a uniform fashion. It was pliable which caused some concern, so we opted to follow up with x-rays today.

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We weren’t sure about what was really happening with this foot. So, we called veterinarian Greg Farrand to come to see this new development and get his input.

I clipped the area around the coronet band so we could see the new growth clearly.

When Greg saw this, he thought he could be trying to slough the involved hoof wall and trying to grow a new foot. We thought more x-rays would be in order to determine if the old hoof wall was dead tissue and if the new hoof wall was healthy and not detached.

 

Greg prepped the area with Barium/Mineral Oil beads to identify the band between the  new growth and the old hoof wall so it would show up on the x-rays.

 

Roll was so sweet and cooperative as we asked him to get back up on his blocks again. He stood like a trooper! But then after going through our sequential training program, he should and does. The x-rays showed that the new hoof growth was healthy and that there was still live tissue in the old hoof wall. This was very encouraging news!

 

Roll has yet to have one lame day since he came to us, so we all agreed that things looked good…at least for now…and that we should continue forward with his boot and Styrofoam protection.

 

We realize through this treatment process that we need to be alert, notice when things change and be flexible and willing to alter our plans at every turn. Roll is certainly appreciative as are we for all your support and prayers! And he is appreciative for a lot of extra oats as well!!!

 

 

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What’s New with Roll? White Line Hoof Support

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Our farrier, Dean Geesen, came to check Roll on February 5th and took off the protective tape and cardboard that we had protecting the exposed inner hoof. Our veterinarian, Greg Farrand suggested that we discontinue the Providone-Iodine treatment because he was afraid it might dry out the inner hoof wall too much and could cause deterioration and further damage. So we proceeded forward with just hosing the area every other day to keep it clean.

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Dean arrived today at 10 a.m. and took off the shoe that had stayed on very well for the full seven weeks.

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He began trimming the foot and found that Roll had contracted White Line on the medial side of the same foot, only it was not nearly as advanced as the lateral side that had been pared with the hoof wall removed.

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Roll did have over a half inch of growth in the foot which was a good thing. He pared away the part of the hoof wall and dug out the White Line fungus. Then he noticed that Roll was growing rather odd looking tissue along the coronet band.

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Dean said he had not ever seen anything like this, so we called Greg and he said he would not be able to come to us until the end of the day, so we put a pad over everything and taped it to his foot for protection until the vet could arrive and help us to assess these strange new developments.

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Greg showed up a little after 5 o’clock p.m. and we began our discussion. Dean thought the foot might be dead after no sensitivity reaction to the hammer.

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We were all concerned after removing the Styrofoam and tape that the issue with the coronet band would be serious, but upon inspection, Greg thought it looked like he was just trying to grow a new hoof. We opted to set a date next Tuesday to do x-rays to make sure that the new hoof was not separating.

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Then we looked at the imprint of his foot on the Styrofoam that had been taped on all afternoon to see where the pressure points were and it looked like the way he stood on the foot had adequately supported the coffin bone.

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Rather than using the tape to adhere the Styrofoam support, we decided to try using Rock’s old custom-made easy boots and just put the Styrofoam pad into the bottom of the boot. The boot fit and we cut the Styrofoam to fit inside of the boot. We will routinely check to make sure it stays thick enough to do it’s job and maintain the correct pressure to the bottom of his foot and change it as needed.

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We determined that perhaps there was only nerve damage in the foot that was causing the non-reaction to the hammer. We agreed that there could still be adequate circulation to the foot or he would be lame if the hoof was dying. And, he has not had one lame day since he come to us in December of 2010.

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We ended this session and all agreed to meet for the x-rays on Tuesday of next week to obtain more information and determine our plans going forward. The very last test was to see how he walked with the Styrofoam lined boot. We would need to check to make sure the straps don’t rub and cause an issue. If they do, we plan to pad them with rolled cotton. This is quite a setback, but there is still HOPE!!! Keep the prayers coming… they’re working!

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What’s New with Roll? White Line Support Team

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We got the team together again today with Roll to assess what we were going to do going forward. The hoof wall did what we hoped it would for eight days and stayed intact with daily cleaning and new wraps, but it was now beginning to get stress marks at the heel. We knew that without adequate circulation to the area, it would no doubt begin to deteriorate. This bought us some time, however to brainstorm for a solution to the support problem going forward.

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Our support team arrived including veterinarian Greg Farrand, farrier Dean Geesen, assistant farrier intern Lance, Ranch Manager Chad Leppert, assistant ranch manager Steve Leppert, my assistant Kristen Florence and me. We discussed whether or not to resect the hoof wall.

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How we did this was an important consideration. The nippers could cause torque that might result in cracking. We discussed whether or not to use nippers only or a dremel, or both.

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We discussed what kind of support would be needed from the shoe and we were concerned about the limitation for nailing the shoe onto the hoof since he does not have much foot left to nail to.

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We finally decided to use both the nippers and the dremel. Dean first nipped away at the hoof wall in very small increments with both the straight nippers and then in the smaller areas with a rounded narrower nipper.

When he got all that he thought he could safely done with the nippers, we then went after the edge with the dremel to create a smoother line that would inhibit cracking.

Then Chad cut down the custom made the shoe to fit what was left of his foot. We opted not to go completely around the toe, leaving it and the left side open and covered the hoof across the heel instead.

Dean put a bead of borium on the shoe at the toe of his opposite foot for traction and it was useful the minute we took him out of the Tack Barn and onto the snow leading to his pen. As he stepped onto the slick snowy surface outside, the good foot did slip, but he was able to catch himself with the Borium bead.

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We talked about doing a test to see what kind of circulation he had in the foot and decided it wasn’t really feasible to do it. Roll has side bones and ring bone in the foot and that alone would produce irregular circulation patterns in the foot. Therefore, the test really wouldn’t reveal anything that would be helpful at this point. We opted not to do it.

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We also talked about doing an ultrasound on the connective tissue to make sure we had cleaned out all the fungus, but again, it really wouldn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already suspect to be true. The main concern was if there was any more fungus left in the foot, but after resecting the hoof wall and cleaning the affected area, we could see with our own eyes with the help of the x-rays that there was nothing left to ultrasound.

We put Roll’s foot onto the hoof stand, checked it once more and then Dean set the ¾ custom-made bar shoe with minimal nails that he and Chad had made.

He then taped cardboard over the affected area with gorilla tape to keep the glue away from it. Once that was in place, he then applied an extra-hardening glue to the bottom of the foot to hold the pad in place. This would lend more support to the hoof and allow it to do its job more closely to normal giving the sole and frog a more even surface of pressure.

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Once the glue was in place, he put on a tough blue pad to provide some support to the sole and to help hold the shoe in place. Our veterinarian, Greg Farrand suggested that we brush out any dirt and debris that adhered to the foot every other day as the pad and cardboard were compromised. Then we would just cut new cardboard and wrap the tape back around the affected area to keep most of the debris out of the affected area.

We had to use both minimal nails and glue together to keep the shoe in place and we will try to go 7 weeks before re-shoeing if possible. Our local farrier supply house, “Oleo Acres” recommended using the supplement Hoof Power made by Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota to help accelerate hoof growth. We opted to use Providone-Iodine to clean the affected area every other day as Greg said the concentrated “White Lightning” was better to use at the onset and for a shorter period of time. As we go forward, we will be sure to continue to share our experience with all of you. Please continue to keep Roll in your prayers.

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What’s New with Roll? White Line Disease

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Only five short weeks ago, Roll’s hooves were in good shape. When we brought him up to the tack barn today, he was not at all lame.

However, when our farrier Dean Geesen arrived this morning to do his hooves again we found that Roll had some fairly advanced symptoms of White Line Disease in his left hind foot. I am just happy that we were able to catch this fast-growing fungus as soon as we did.

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Our other equines are not getting done as frequently as Roll was. We opted to do him every five weeks instead of every 6-8 weeks because of the severe founder he had before. We wanted to be sure to keep his feet balanced so that any hoof growth would not begin to offset that balance. There is no telling how far this fungus would have progressed in another 1-3 weeks!

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I am so happy that I kept a copy of the article that appeared in the American Donkey & Mule Society’s Brayer magazine in the July/August 2007 edition about White Line Disease. I have kept all issues because here is a wealth of useful information in the Brayer Magazine  that now serves as my Longears-Equine Encyclopedia! We called our veterinarian Greg Farrand and he was able to come to the ranch quickly to help assess the situation.

Roll’s left hind foot had a gap in it after Dean cleaned out the fungus of about 4” along the outside of the foot from back to front by ½” wide and almost 1 ½ inches deep. Dean said he had not seen a case of White Line in Colorado in 13 years. Typically it manifests itself in more humid climates, however Colorado has recently been unusually humid as we experienced with fungus in the hayfields earlier this year. It was a very acute and severe onset!

It was so wide and deep that my Ranch Manager Chad could get his finger into the cavernous space. It was a real concern that it had gotten this bad in such a short time.

We had shoes on Roll’s hind feet to keep him from dragging them and wearing down his toes. Keeping a shoe on the left hind foot was not going to be an option since there was nothing to nail the shoe to on one side of his hoof. We talked about whether or not to cut away the affected hoof wall. Since Roll is a draft mule and has such large feet, we decided that keeping the “cavern” clean would not be too difficult, so we opted NOT to cut away the hoof wall right away. He would need all the support left on that foot for as long as he could get it. A smaller foot would have to be pared away immediately to treat it effectively.

We wanted to salvage the hoof wall to keep his overall balance and the balance of his feet intact as much as we could. We decided that it would be better if we just didn’t put any shoes on the back again rather than causing an imbalance by shoeing the right foot only.

For the first five days, we planned to clean the “cavern” daily, rinsing it with iodine astringent, packing it with gauze dipped in the iodine and then well wrung-out to prevent too much moisture from collecting in the affected area. When dealing with astringents and the like, it is advisable to wear gloves! We took measurements of the hoof so we could accurately monitor his progress. Since this is to be a daily process, we are grateful for Roll’s impeccable manners and cooperation!

We talked about whether or not to use an “easy-boot” to hold the gauze in, but decided that duct tape could do the job nicely. It would be easy to replace daily and would not trap moisture like the “easy-boot” could because the duct tape would erode as he walked on it. This would allow the air get to it and keep it drier to promote healing.

We also decided that it might be prudent to be proactive and put shoes on his front feet since he will no doubt be throwing his weight forward if the White Line Disease begins to cause any pain. Right now, he is sound and not lame at all. That is definitely encouraging.

This process will need to be repeated every day for as long as it takes for the foot to be rid of this fungus, but instead of using the astringent iodine, soon after the initial four days, we will x-ray him to get a baseline and make sure we know what we are dealing with. Then going forward, we will use a more diluted form of iodine like Providone-Iodine, Betadine or a product called “White Lightning” that has been developed specifically for this purpose. According to our veterinarian Greg Farrand, these are all antiseptic rinses and any of them should work fine.

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The prognosis is encouraging. We know we need to make sure the “cavern” is cleaned out thoroughly each day and the gauze and tape are kept clean upon application. This is a long-term therapy and will take 14-18 months to grow back out…if it can. Although White Line Disease is very similar to thrush, it is not a stable management issue like thrush. The onset is quick and there does not appear to be a consistent explanation as to exactly where it comes from. To be pro-active, we added a few more inches of pea gravel to his run so that when the snow melts and the mud mixes with the old pea gravel, we won’t have mud to pare out of the “cavern.” The pea gravel is less likely to mesh with the fungus and should be easier to clean. This is just the beginning of yet another challenge in Roll’s journey and we will do follow-up posts to keep you informed on Roll’s progress as we usually do. Roll would truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers!

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What’s New with Roll? Riding the Hayfield

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At 21 years of age, Roll has worked hard since December of 2010 when I saved him from slaughter. He is now able to carry my weight and go for jaunts around the hayfield monthly with a buddy in addition to his milder weekly exercises.

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Roll thinks Brandy, another rescue, is pretty cute! She’s a “Mini-Me!”

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Today, both Roll and Brandy are both being tested without their “Elbow Pulls” to assess how much of their own good equine posture they can maintain. Roll was actually more consistently engaged and rounded over the to line than Brandy.

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We stopped to look at the horses that were running in a nearby field.

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Although Roll was still twisting his right hind somewhat from bearing most of the weight from the other three compromised feet, he still maintained a decent posture and continued to step well underneath and stay rounded over the top.

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His reinback was slow, but accurate and submissive.

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Roll enjoyed riding past the Jasper Bunkhouse! Lots to look at!

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Roll and Brandy matched their pace as we rode past the bronze statue that commemorates the famed Lucky Three Mae Bea C.T.’s accomplishments in Combined Driving and Combined Training.

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Roll begins to “pace” when he gets tired, but he still matched Brandy’s pace through the “Mule Crossing.”

 

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All in all, both mules did fairly well without the “Elbow Pull,” but it was clear they would still need it’s support for future rides for a while longer. Roll is staying sound and seems much happier to be able to get out in the wide open spaces for a change!

 

The Marvels of the Equine Vacuum

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The equine vacuum cleaner is not only a way to dry clean your equine, but it can also be used as a muscle therapy tool and to promote good circulation. Of course, the first thing to do is to gently introduce the equine to the vacuum cleaner.

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What’s New with Roll? Riding the Hourglass Pattern

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Roll was a little hesitant and stiff during his workout in the dressage arena through the hourglass pattern with me riding today. I couldn’t tell at first if he is just being overly careful because I was on board or if he was truly having issues with his feet. The more he did, the better he got as far as traveling, but there was significant problems keeping him between the reins. I attribute that to previous drivers with very bad hands. He does seem to know how to track straight between the reins with adequate forward impulsion. He clunked the ground rails as I led him through the pattern the first time, but after adjusting the distance between the ground rails, he did much better both on the lead line and under saddle. He did very well staying erect and bending through the rib cage around the corner cones. He also gave me intermittent surges of impulsion and did not seem at all lame when he did it. At trot, he got wiggly on his straight lines, but I am encouraged that will pass as he gains more strength and impulsion. All in all, it was a very nice first-time serious hourglass workout under saddle!

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Roll was anxious to go to work!

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The first order of business was to survey the course…

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…and be led through in sync with each other.

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Then Roll did a nice square halt!

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Before mounting, I checked all his gear to make sure everything was in good shape and that Roll was comfortable.

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Roll backed easily on request after mounting.

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Roll walked the pattern nicely and stayed on the bit. Note the loose elbow pull!

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Roll did lovely bends through his rib cage around the corner cones…

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…and tracked easily over the ground rails.

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When asked, he lengthened his walk as best he could!

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I hadn’t planned on trotting, but Roll was having so much fun that he offered it and I accepted! His movement was so BIG, it shot my legs forward!

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His hind quarters came well underneath his body through the halt…

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…and after so much work and energy spent, Roll decided instantly it was nap time!!! What a good boy he is!

 

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What’s New with Roll? Musing about Roll

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Roll and I finally got some time to begin warm up exercises after a whole year off. I was pleasantly surprised to find him much stronger in his new posture than I thought he would be after so much time away from his exercises. All he did for the past year was regular maintenance, turnout, massages and farrier work. It seems that after three years of posture training prior to last year, it has become his normal way of moving and has sustained his good condition with only turnout for exercise.

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When I first took him from his pen, we went through his small pen gate and were met with the younger saddle mules along the fence line just outside his turnout pasture in the dressage arena. I dropped Roll’s lead rope and turned to give oats to the other mules. When I finished, I looked over my shoulder and Roll was walking through the pasture gate and onto the cement pad outside the gate about fifty feet away from me. I hollered for him to “whoa” at which point he finished exiting the gate and turned to face me on the other side just as if I were standing with him! He knows exactly where we go and likes being with me so much that he forgot about four-foot tall lush grass just off to the side of the pea gravel walkway to exit through the gate. Too bad I didn’t have the camera person with me at that point! I just laughed and caught up with him and we continued our walk to the wash rack! What a guy!

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I groomed his body and then washed the winter dirt and baby oil out of his mane and tail.

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Then we squared up and went for a walk down road north of the house to the hayfield road.

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There was a fence between him and the tall grass in the turnout pens, but once we hit the hayfield, there was no fence between him and the tall grass in the hayfield. Even faced with the five-foot hayfield grass on his right all the way down the road, he was engaged and obedient. Being as big as he is, he could easily have launched me off my feet and into the hayfield! He still walked straight lines with energy and enthusiasm (He was always sluggish when we first started in 2010), stopped in balance and squared himself up easily and willingly. He is maintaining a strong top line and is alert and happy about everything he does.

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What’s New with Roll? Lunging & Mounting

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Roll had a very good day today. It has been awhile since his last workout and I wasn’t sure I was going to ride him, but I saddled him in case he looked like he would be able to handle it. Roll had a chiropractic adjustment on his right hip that helped the twisting right foot to be able to move in a more straight forward fashion. Equines, like us, can get locked up when we don’t move around enough and I suspect that is what happened with Roll’s hip.

We went to the round pen and did 5 rotations of walk each direction and 8 rotations of trot each direction. Then I climbed on board with no help this time, Steve came in and removed the mounting block and we were off. Roll did fantastic. He was a little lazy, but very light in the bridle and very willing to do two rotations at walk each direction with an “S” turn through the middle for a change of direction with a rein back at the beginning and end of his workout. Since he had not worked in awhile, I left it up to him as to whether he felt like breaking into trot. He did not seem to want to do this with no cues from me, so I opted not to press him any further. He had already done much more than I expected that he would!





 

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What’s New with Roll? Riding in Round Pen

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Roll was devastated at the loss of Rock on December 27, 2011. He really didn’t know how lucky he was to be in our loving care at the time, however continuing his well established maintenance and training routine gave him some solace and in two weeks he began to reciprocate our unconditional affection for him. We moved him into Rock’s stall which also gave him a sense of security. He seemed to find comfort in Rock’s scent.

Like Rock, Roll spent many lessons on the lead rope doing his core muscle exercises and measured time in the round pen for further strengthening in hopes of re-balancing his body enough to do some light driving and riding. In March, he was doing so well I figured it was time to mount him and start doing balancing exercises from the saddle. We had our vet come out and x-ray his feet to make sure he would be sound enough for those kinds of activities. He had not exhibited any lameness in the year and a half he had been with us.

We were all surprised when we discovered that he not only had side bones in the right hind as we had palpated, but in all four feet! As if that wasn’t enough, he also had some traces of upper and lower ringbone. The vet agreed that with his core muscle and balance training he had not aggravated the conditions in his feet and that was why he never exhibited any lameness…only a slight twisting in the right hind. When I asked about riding him, my vet agreed with me that he could probably carry my weight safely at walk and trot, but that the canter could pose problems. He also agreed that light driving after his new posture had been more securely established by riding that he would be able to do some light driving while hitched to my Meadowbrook cart.

Roll had 3 weeks off after the x-rays and that turned out to be a bad decision. He lost some conditioning and got a little depressed because now the other mules were not turned out next to him anymore. So, we resumed his regular activities and allowed him turnout in the lane between the two spring turnout pens. He could have walked right through the low plastic gate, but never offered to do so. He was just happy to be near his new friends.

On Wednesday May 9, Roll seemed ready to be mounted and ridden for the first time. I carefully reviewed all his pre-riding lessons: grooming, tacking up while standing stock still, mounting in the tack barn, asking him to take the oats from both sides, repeated the same in the round pen after I ground drove him through the pattern I would ride with my assistant nearby mirroring his movements…

and then brought in the mounting block.

I then asked him to bring his head around to acknowledge that I was now on his back.

Roll was all business and absolutely perfect! He walked quietly tracking right for one rotation around the round pen, did a perfect reverse…

and tracked two more rotations to the left. He knew what to expect and responded accordingly right down to the rein back at the end of the lesson!

I told him it wouldn’t be long before he would be able to take treks with me around the farm fields like the other mules. He just beamed with pride and enthusiasm! It’s wonderful to see him truly happy again!

 

 

 

 

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