The dish soap I had on hand, the scrubby brush and my sad purple hoof pick.
A few weeks ago, Dawn Willoughby posted an entry called “If I Only Had Four Frogs.” I read and enjoyed it without thinking too much about it, until later in the week when the realization that it was AUTUMN hit. Autumn is great, but unfortunately it means winter is just a blink away. I started getting antsy like I always do before winter, trying to get everything done that I needed to and trying to enjoy the last of the beautiful weather. I am still hoping the gorgeous weather holds until, oh, March.
Because I am obsessive by nature, I tend to obsess, er, focus, on one thing at a time. For most people, I’m sure they just think I’m weird. For those who love me, it’s endearing, or so they say. For some reason Dawn’s post hit a chord. All of the sudden I was focused on my little herd’s frogs. For whatever reason, I never really thought about them before. I always assumed that considering we live in the desert, we really didn’t have to worry about such things. Thrush here, at most, consists of a little bit of gunk and a stink. We don’t generally get the black goo and mush that other regions might encounter on a regular basis. Of course that does not mean the horses here aren’t affected by a more internal form that attacks the frog deep down. Eek! Something must be done!!
I decided to channel my focused nature toward paying better attention to my horses’ foot care. While I am diligent about trimming and feel that things are going pretty well in that department (I chose last year to obsess about achieving a shorter toe, which was the easiest yet most beneficial adjustment I’ve ever made) I definitely could work a little harder at helping the horses develop a better frog and, in turn, digital cushion. Dawn’s solutions seemed simple and I assembled my own little kit consisting of antibacterial dish soap, a long-handled brush-scrubby-thing and a bucket. Because we’re not yet dealing with any obvious problems, I chose not to add any tea tree or other disinfectants to my kit at this time.
So far I am on week two of scrubbing frogs. This is one of those statements I make sure I am not in mixed company when speaking, as I am sure it would cause some pretty funny looks! I figure, realistically, I can scrub feet at least twice a week and after only three scrubbings, I can already see a difference. Is this possible? Is this simple solution truly responsible for the visible change in my horses’ feet? I am definitely not sure of that answer, but I also definitely like what I am seeing.
I have noticed change in Replika’s frogs the most. I started the day I pulled her glue-on boots from Owyhee Canyonlands, which I think was a very smart decision. I scrubbed and soaked her feet with the diluted dishwashing soap and by the third scrubbing, I was shocked to see the smoothest and healthiest frog tissue I have ever seen in her feet. The central sulcus, or crack that’s responsible for the butt-crack effect, has started to fill in and is now just a divot and not a crack. I am seeing this on all three horses. Could I have been neglecting something so easy to remedy (or at least assist healing) all this time?
I have decided to combine the scrub with antibacterial soap into my “regular” foot care routine which consists of very regular trimming, riding with and without boots and lunging in the sand barefoot. Today was groundwork day, which was the first time I incorporated the addition of scrubbing to my regular routine. I estimate the thorough cleaning, scrubbing and few minutes of soaking to add *maybe* ten minutes to my day. I decided to do the cleaning prior to the groundwork, which seemed to work well.
I usually add a surcingle and side-reins to the horses’ lunge work for the added benefit. Like scrubbing, it’s a simple step that adds only minutes to your routine, but the benefits are so very worth it! I encourage those who may neglect arena work (like I tend to do anymore) to work your horses a couple times a week in a manner focusing on building toplines and developing balance. It’s a win-win! Chant is displaying a bit of a temper tantrum and eventual softening. I would rather him fight himself than me and our rides after such a session are usually much more pleasant!
Because I went right from horse to horse in the arena, I soaked and scrubbed Chant’s feet quickly after our session. Getting the foot so clean allowed me to see the bar I missed and all the sole that is preparing to exfoliate. This is definitely something I will continue to do.
I don’t think I could ever thank EasyCare enough for continuing to educate all of us through the extensive experience offered by the various blogs and articles. Without this, I would have had to focus on something benign like which winter blanket to buy or to braid manes or not to braid manes for the winter. Yes, you have enriched my life. Thank you!
To everyone else, keep scrubbing. It certainly cannot hurt and most likely will help!