Today I picked up Tonka's x-rays from Dr. Kerstin Schwichtenberg in Agassiz, and so far she is my kind of vet -- straightforward, knowledgeable and kind. The images clearly show some rotation in both coffin bones, though it is more severe in the right. Both heels are underrun. The vet, the natural trimmer and I feel that we can give this guy a decent chance at a sound, barefooted life by feeding him appropriately, reshaping his hooves, designing a good paddock, and riding him out in hoof boots. It will not be a short process, nor an easy one, and there is no guarantee of success. The way I see it Tonka will have three options, and he can't loose in any case:
- Rehabilitation to soundness, in which case he will become our beloved trail buddy and pasture pet.
- Stabilization at semi-soundness, in which case he will become a beloved pasture pet.
- Degeneration into discomfort and pain, in which case he will leave this world humanely as a beloved horse.
Without our intervention at this stage Tonka is likely headed to the meat yard, either directly or indirectly. I cannot stomach the thought of such a good, sweet and willing horse going to slaughter, and I feel nothing but relief about making the decision to give him a more noble end, whenever it may come.
For the curious amongst you, here is a healthy horse foot. Notice how the triangular coffin bone sits parallel to the hoof wall at the front:
Here is Tonka's right foot. Notice how the tip of the coffin bone is rotated away from the hoof wall.
And here's the left side, which is still rotated by the separation is not so pronounced: