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Linda Cowles Hoof Care - Serving the greater SF Bay Area and Northern California

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4/21/1974 to 5/24/2005

"Here some photos of Nasty that were taken the day he was put down---it was a glorious wonderful day and he seemed at peace with the world."

"The one taken with the dark barn in the background was taken the night before.

They are pretty memory intensive. I have others if these come through ok.

Have some taken 2 and a half years ago when he was looking pretty darn good ... I'll see if I can find them too."


Red horse
Once grazed in the moonlight
Now canters among the stars

Used to roll in a meadow
Now trots along comet tails

Jumped over fences
Now soars through the clouds

Red horse
Used to be mine
Now is God's


Note from January 2009

I wanted to add this page originally as a tribute to a very dear friend, Kathleen, who goes out of her way to help the owners of other chronically laminitic horses.

Its even more meaningful now, because in the past two years, I have come to understand how subtle the early signs of laminitis are, and how widespread "sub-clinical laminitis" (laminitis that vets don't detect as such because its little more than tender feet) actually is.

My two biggest challenges as a trimmer are Thrush and Seasonal Laminitis. If your horse has tender feet in the fall and spring, poor hoof quality, white line or wall separation or flat soles in the spring and fall? Investigate Laminitis. Don't procrastinate.

Ongoing laminitis results in irreparable vascular damage to the lower leg and hoof, and deterioration of the coffin bone. And that's just the beginning. Please treat seasonal tenderness as the threat to your horses health that it is.

Story of a Horse

"I feel a connection to the fabled stories of women and horses the more time I spend in a horse's company. Every mare, stallion or gelding has a tale to tell and a symbolism that enriches our lives. I am revising the classics from mythology to fairy tales and finding new meaning.

Often in my dreams our journeys are fantastic and surreal, but these same dreams are linked to the awakening of an enchantment that was in danger of being lost.

I look at the world a little differently now, with more wonder." ---Melissa Sovey-Nelson "If I Had a Horse"

From my friend, Kathleen:

"Linda has asked me to tell our story in hopes that there will be something that will help those in need of comfort and advice."

"I first saw Nasty in March of 1975. He was a muddy sorrel yearling with a big blaze face. In a few days, he was mine---ha! I was his, don't ever doubt it."

"We grew together, the way you do with the horse that is yours for life. We played and showed and rode the trails. He aged gracefully and in February of 2000 was coming up on age 26 with signs of age, of course---swayed back and a slower way of being---but still his cheerful self always ready for a meal and company."

"That February was our first experience with anything out of the ordinary health-wise. I went up to feed that morning and he wasn't waiting for me at the barn. His pasture was a 7 acre hillside with the barn at the top."

"I walked down to find him, thinking he had just gotten involved in grazing and forgotten to come up and meet---though, there was a niggling worry when he didn't come charging up when I called and whistled. "

"I found him at the bottom of the hill, just standing. Again, I called to him and he just waited for me... munched down his carrot as I caught him and turned to head up the hill. The first step was alarming...he was in pain."

" I checked his feet---no rocks, no heat---I didn't know what else to look for. It took over 20 minutes to inch up the hill to the barn, by which time was really worried. I left him with his breakfast and headed home to call my vet."

"We were back up by 1 in the afternoon. Diagnosis---"probable laminitis"---treatment---bute twice a day and no alfalfa or grain. Within a few days, things had escalated... x-rays showed rotation (ultimately there would 12/13 degrees in both front feet). He was put on styrofoam pads and confined to a deeply bedded stall. I was in a panic to find information."

Kathi, what best friends are made of...


"Whatever anyone thinks, however many times you have heard the word "laminitis", I really don't think you can have a clue as to what you are facing until it happens to you (well, to your horse). "

"There is no way to explain the pain and devastation this will bring---emotionally, physically and financially. I am not saying don't fight it ...I did...for 5 years. Try to be prepared for what may be coming."

"Nasty foundered the first time in February of 2000. He foundered again in April of 2001. We had done everything right, we thought and here he was, in the classic founder stance again...warm feet, bounding pulses...back on styrofoam, back on bute, back to the beginning. Now, my vet raises the Cushings question. He could think of no other reason for this second founder. This gave me a whole new venue to explore---once again in a panic. He did prescribe pergolide and that is the way we went."

"I found a new resource. The Equine Cushings list on Yahoo ... a dedicated group of people with Cushings horses and the resulting complications---often laminitis. I also found information on diet that I had no ideas about---hay testing, balancing minerals---focusing on details."

"Where to go from here---how to compress 4 more years into just a few words...4 more years of struggle and learning. I came very close to having Nasty put down that May...went so far as to schedule a day and have friends come out to say good-bye. But, he wasn't ready and neither was I."

"As I did more and more research, I began to find a different way to do things. The Cushings group is moderated by Dr Eleanor Kellon who is generous with her time and knowledge. With her help, I began to learn about diet, diagnosis and trim."

"As I learned which blood tests to ask for, I found that Nasty was both Cushings and Insulin Resistant. This meant that his diet was even more important...we needed to have a low sugar, mineral-balanced diet. It often meant soaking the hay to leach out some of the sugar...not a fun thing in the dark and pouring rain, but doable. Nasty improved to a point---the medication helped, the diet helped...for us, the trim would be the most difficult thing to manage."

"It is important that you be able to work with your vet and your farrier/trimmer. It is important that one or both of them have knowledge and experience with laminitis. This was the most difficult part for us."

"My vet trimmed, my farrier put on a set of shoes, I connected with a barefoot trimmer who came out from Arkansas every few weeks to work in California, my vet trimmed again. We would be ok for awhile and then we would lose control of the heels again and my horse would be uncomfortable."

"But I learned and learned...from the internet, from my professionals and from my horse."

"There were times of joy in this struggle too. I have a photo of my horse from May of 2004---he is running (full tilt boogie) up a hill...a really wonderful moment after all of the years...that is the picture I tried to keep in my head when things down-turned again."

"Nasty was part of the Horse Journal's field trial of Lamina Saver published in the June 2002 issue---he was the "centerfold"....again a learning process. He is featured on the Acclaims page of the Vita-key web site I made and kept friendships all over the country."

"Our last year became again, more difficult. Nasty continued to have foot discomfort. We increased his dose of pergolide to try to manage the Cushings better. But I don't remember having any notion of giving up."

"Then in May of 2005, he began having more trouble with his left front which had always been the "good" foot. My vet come out to X-ray it and as we stood him up on the blocks, I realized that he was dripping urine. After the X-rays were done, my vet did a rectal and then an ultrasound... turned out to be a blockage in his bladder...and there was nothing to do."

"If it had been just laminitic stuff, I would probably still be fighting...but this was something that we just couldn't manage. My horse was 31 and had fought a long hard fight. On May 24th, we let him go."

'Below is the posting that I made to the Cushings list:

There's a hole in my world tonight.

Nasty was laid to rest this afternoon. It was a lovely, sunny day. I let him out in the big grassy paddock this morning...the grass as high as his shoulder...big grin on his face and no question that he had every right to be out there. Three very special friends came and shared the vigil. We braided his mane and tail, we fed him carrots and apples and he accepted it all as his due.

Pete arrived at 2 o'clock and in a kind and gentle fashion laid him down. Nasty went with grace and dignity as he has lived his life.

For the moment I am at peace with today. I am surrounded by loving friends both here and online. My tears are for him and for me, but I know in my heart that he is bounding up a hill and enjoying everything around him.

It is over."

"Good bye sweet Nasty boy"

Linda Cowles Hoof Care
Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
Copyright 2008 Linda Cowles
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