I own a Kentucky Mountain horse named Dylan.  I bought him when I was 58 and he was almost 3.  Two years ago, Dylan suffered a large pink bruise just below the coronary band on his left front hoof.  A month later after several days of heavy rain, the spot ruptured into an abscess.  Dylan had shown no lameness at all.  My vet said to watch it as it might cause trouble as his hoof grew out.  (Dylan has been barefoot his whole life, but his feet had always been trimmed by a farrier, as I knew nothing about barefoot specialists at that time)  A few weeks later I noticed he was “off” a little on that foot, so I called the vet and had him x-rayed.  Both my vet and farrier agreed that I should shoe him on the front to stabilize the left front as there was some separation of the hoof wall.  Reluctantly, and with much pressure from other horse folks on the farm, I had that done.  When I started to do research, I knew I had made a HUGE mistake.  Horses need blood flow to their hooves and shoes restrict that.  Everybody at the barn said I was crazy and didn’t know what I was talking about, “Horses have been wearing shoes for hundreds of years!”  “It protects their hooves!”  “No hoof, no horse – do you want to take that chance???”  I called my farrier and told him to remove the shoes and started looking for someone with skill and more modern ideas to manage Dylan’s feet.  I am a dog trainer, and I no longer train dogs the way I did 30 years ago.  Equine hoof care had to have a better option than what was done 300 years ago…..

I was lucky to find Carla Ball.  When I first spoke to her I could clearly see she was very knowledgeable, and the horse came first.  She was certified for barefoot care, but also regularly participated in on-going training.  Carla spent a lot of time with Dylan and more time explaining to me how a hoof works and our options for helping my horse.  She trimmed and balanced his feet regularly, and we waited as his hoof grew out.  He did have separation of the hoof wall and needed to have his hoof cast.  The worst day for me was when Carla trimmed him and cleaned out his hoof and we could see daylight from the abscess hole to the bottom of his hoof.  On went the first of two casts to stabilize his hoof.  I did not ride Dylan for a couple of months, but through this process under Carla’s watchful eye, Dylan never had a lame day.  Our story has a happy ending;  Dylan is fine now, sees Carla regularly, and his hooves are healthy and beautiful.  Carla is my friend and teacher.  Dylan gets better daily hoof care from me, because Carla has taught me how.  I can’t thank her enough or recommend her more highly!

Karyn and Dylan aka “Stardust Some Like it Hot”