Sunday, April 08, 2007

Woe Vent

If anyone can catch the fiber-related pun in the title, then you're obviously as sleep-deprived as I am.

I apologize for giving my readers horrible flashbacks to grad school. LOL! But really. This is just the test semester for grad school. I'm not even officially in grad school yet. But at least I know better than to overload myself.

I think.

Still haven't won the lottery. Some lucky person in New York won my $105 million. Darn it. (OK, it wasn't mine, or I'd have won it, but I really was hoping.)

School Update:
  • C&I: finished the Journal, turned it in on time
  • Econ: read all seven chapters, survived the test (I think I did well, I felt confident)
  • Law: grazed the chapters, marked the vital passages with P*st-its, survived Part One (Part Two is Monday)
  • Weaving (in the lab): spent an hour and a half calculating measurements for the doubleweave (to figure out what part of the warp to pick up to make the design fit), realized it was FUBU; spent an hour ripping out 5 inches of double weave (which is really 10 inches because it's, well, double); spent a good 6 hours re-weaving it with minor ripbacks because I kept screwing it up; repaired a broken warp thread; got about three inches past where I'd been when I realized it was FUBU and quit for the day (at 1:00 AM on a Friday night, boy, talk about social life)
  • Surface Design: did the quilting portion of the piece that's due Monday; only have to turn the edges under and finish cleanly. Sounds easy; except it's blind stitched by hand. Ow, ow, ow, carpal tunnel pain, ow ow.
Now if I can just get started on next week's crop of work:
  • write a Reflection for C&I on the team exercise we did
  • write a huge paper (when?!? class from 9-9 Monday) about my Two Great Innovations that was supposedly due the 19th but is suddenly due the 10th
  • read the rest of Law for the test (which is first thing Monday, for which I shall spend all day Sunday studying along with finishing Monday projects)
  • read three new chapters of Econ*
  • read stuff for C&I
  • finish doubleweave
  • I'm sure there is something I'm forgetting....
Oh, taxes. Yeah. Those. Well, I've done nothing for five years, collected no income. Except I'm trapped in a self-employment loop because right after I lost my job five years ago, I was still smarting over it, so I told the IRS I was self-employed, because I was honestly trying to start a freelance business and was too proud to say un-employed. Because I worked a whole nine weeks in the last five years (in 2002 and 2004), I had to claim the income; self-employed, home business (because I did it from home), expenses, etc. Then Turbo Tax made me take a Net Loss.

Therefore, I am forever screwed. I should have visited an accountant ASAP rather than try to get out of that loop by myself. I still have a week. My parents' accountant knows I'm on the way with my tax info from the past five years.

All of today was taken up by my horses. Toenail-trimming day for the equines. My apologies in advance if anyone reading this is a traditional farrier. I have become rather passionate in my endorsement of all things natural and sometimes I may offend traditionalists without realizing it.

An issue has developed with the current barn managers over my mare's ongoing lameness problem. I started studying natural hoofcare last year and took a few seminars, bought the equipment, but then the parents got sick and I discovered how much the farrier position hurts my knees and back. But I learned a LOT about how horses are affected by food, grasses, environment, different ground surfaces, chemicals, trimming methods, shoeing, etc.

When I got my mare May 2005, I wasn't expecting her to be lame two months later. It's been a long process. It involved seeing a couple of different vets, a chiropractor/acupuncturist, a nationally-ranked farrier, a psychic (yeah, don't laugh), having her xrayed, blood drawn, etc etc etc. They ruled out the Big Nasties: navicular, laminitis, founder, coffin bone rotation, cancers, other diseases. They diagnosed a little sidebone (ossification of the lateral cartileges) but nothing big enough to cause severe lameness (she looked like she needed a wheelchair at her worst). The farrier recommended shoes on all four feet, but our barn doesn't allow hind shoes and I'm philosophically opposed to pounding nails into their feet anyway, so that lead me to Natural Hoofcare and the AANHCP and my Natural Hoof Care Practitioner (NHCP).

My mare was trimmed to go barefoot. Barefoot trims are based on the way wild hooves look and function (wild hooves are self-trimming, and wild horses don't suffer the hoof problems domestic horses have). It looks different from the traditional farrier trim. In the Jaime Jackson method endorsed by the AANHCP, hooves are not trimmed to a specific, standard angle; rather they are trimmed according to how each individual foot angles (natural angle). One hoof might have a different angle than the other. It's hard to describe how it looks.

...The quintessence of the model is to mimic, through regular trimming, the natural hoof wear patterns that take place in wild horse country... it is a matter of removing what nature would have worn away under natural circumstances... the excess growth and waste material, that, just like iron shoes, hampers the hoof from functioning properly and growing strong. The wild horses themselves have proven that natural wear stimulates the growth of strong healthy feet. Likewise, the effectiveness of the wild horse model for improving the hooves of domesticated horses has been confirmed by experienced practitioners around the world.
If you're really interested, this article in the Paint Horse Journal explains it better than I can.

The object is to balance the HORSE—not the hoof, if that makes sense. Logic would tell us that Nature made things asymmetrical. The common method is to have the hooves look even with perfect industry-standard angles. But, let me ask you this: are both of your legs exactly the same length? How about your feet? Do both feet point perfectly forward, are all your toes a uniform length and shape?

Probably not. I know mine aren't. One of my knees kind of cocks inward (the opposite of bow-legged), and I stand like a duck.

Horses aren't made uniformly, either. So, why trim them so that the hooves ascribe to uniform perfection? Now hold that thought.

Her diet was changed to oats, mineral supplements and Organic Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar. NO sweet or pelleted feed. No sugar. No molasses. Also no chemicals. Natural non-chemical dewormer. No grass! It's because of the sugar factor. The thought was that my horse may be insulin-resistant—sort of like diabetic.

Within six weeks, her demeanor had changed, she was bright-eyed, happy, trotting, cantering, all but the smallest trace of soreness was gone. It took my NHCP a full year of correction through trimming (and diet) to get my mare about as sound as she could be (comfortable, pain-free, and rideable), and to develop a good hoof wall and thick soles. I thought we were on the road to recovery at last.

But the feeding regimen is a PITA for the barn managers. Our barn has also changed managers five times in six years. The previous BMs were very efficient and did what owners asked. The new BMs? I'm not so sure.

My mare has gone lame a few times over the past two years. Every time, I've traced it back to going off of her feeding regimen. They ran out of something so they switched to sweet feed in the meantime (because it couldn't possibly hurt the horse any, it's mostly corn, right? RIGHT. Which converts to SUGAR. And Sweet Feed—ahem, sweet—has molasses in the top five ingredients. AKA sugar.).

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from the barn manager's manager complaining about my horse, she was dead lame, lying in the pasture for 4-6 hours at a time, could hardly move, and "you have to get out there and do something about her". I called the barn. I asked questions.

Yep. They ran out of oats, didn't bother to let me know they'd run through the five bags already, and put her on the house feed. Pelleted. Not sweet. So it's "better". Took her off her supplements, her ACV, her dewormer. So she'd been back on bad food for nearly a month.

Thus began the discussion. It is evident that it is becoming a clash of philosophies. BM is trying to convince me it's her feet, she's body sore, she's dead lame, it's probably navicular or laminitis and she needs xrays, and she'll probably need shoes and diet isn't the cure-all (it's a coincidence). I maintain that my NHCP and I ARE doing something, have been for nearly two years, she's made dramatic improvements (ask anyone in the barn who has witnessed it), put her back on her feed and follow the plan and see, and I can't do more than that until I'm done with finals in three weeks.

My NHCP is mentoring a practitioner-in-training who is within a closer travelling distance, so my NHCP-IT is handling the trimming with her Mentor consulting and overseeing. My NHCP-IT was out today doing the trims. My mare, oddly enough, looked FINE. The NHCP-IT commented that she was moving better than she was five weeks ago. She sure didn't look dead lame to either of us. She looked downright rideable.

Today, NHCP-IT and the BM had a discussion about my mare while she trimmed. I thought we were all on the same wavelength after she explained to him why we were doing what we were doing and how it works. It was all good—although he did comment, "you are aware that the angles are different on those front hooves", to which she replied with a smile, "yes" (because that's naturally how her feet angle). Then she left, and the tune changed.

I get the feeling that because she's in training, BM doesn't think she knows enough to know what she's doing. While I stood there shivering from the bitter cold (having much earlier lost the feeling in my feet), he proceeded to fill my ear with a half hours' worth of HIS opinion on what needs to be done, a rather scathing comment about the trim method, how it was pretty close to what he'd have done except he'd have done this or that (please note that the this and that is exactly what we DON'T want done because the thises and thats are what contribute to lameness in the first place!!!) and then he emphatically stated, "I don't care what she says, that horse is DEAD LAME" and provided me with "evidence". Funny. I didn't see any of that (neither did NHCP), and I was looking at my horse very very very closely.

Did I mention the BM is also a farrier? One whose main business income is from shoeing? And there is a baby on the way in their family? And that the mother is also a farrier/shoer, who in her current condition is no longer able to trim or shoe for awhile?

Hmm.

What irks me is that people are making decisions about my horse and changing things to suit them, when it is MY horse and they have no business interfering. Their job is to make sure my horse is fed according to my preferences, watered, turned in/out, and that the inside and outside environments in which my horse lives is kept safe and comfortable (no dangers that might hurt them). They are also to ALERT me to problems. That's it. ALERT. Not "make decisions about how to fix it without the owner's knowledge or input". I didn't decide to feed her some crazy diet on a whim. I'm doing it after much research and consultation with both my vet AND my trimmer (who are in agreement). I am most certainly "doing" something to help her. But there are no quick fixes. Transitioning to barefoot takes time; so does overcoming major issues related to the health of a living organism like the hoof. It happens gradually. Natural hoofcare only fails when people are too impatient to follow the program for the six months it may take (or longer) to see noticeable results.

Y'know, I bet these would be easier to read if I'd just post smaller chunks throughout the week rather than put in a marathon procrastination-by-blogging session. I'll try to do better. End of my rant. Time for bed.

*Source: AANHCP Press Release, 10.27.2006, "About the new AANHCP Natural Trim Guidelines", www.aanhcp.net

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4 Comments:

At 10:14 AM, April 08, 2007, Blogger Sheepish Annie said...

The worst of it is that the BM's decision to ignore your wishes puts the horse on the middle. And horses can't say, "hey, do what my person says or I will tell on you!!!" Nor will they refuse the sweet food. Horses are like little kids that way, I suppose. I hope you are able to get it all straightened out and put your equine friend back on the road to recovery. Boarding fees arean't cheap and they should be doing as you ask!!!!!

Now about those taxes...is that something I am supposed to be doing? Everyone keeps talking about it. Perhaps I should look into getting that done. Later...

 
At 12:01 PM, April 08, 2007, Blogger VariegatedKnits said...

Sorry to hear about your mare. Someone I know had a similar thing happen - the poor horse went lame shortly after she bought him. It took her a long time to heal her horse.

 
At 4:37 PM, April 08, 2007, Anonymous Erin said...

I hope that you were able to get some restorative sleep!!

 
At 11:48 PM, April 09, 2007, Anonymous tiennie said...

OMG! I have 4 kids but you are way busier than me! Thanks for the catch-up post and hopefully the tax and mare issue will work itself out.

 

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