Saving Theo: A Thanksgiving for Theo

Regular readers of “Saving Theo” will recall that the last installment ended on an ominous note, as Ed and Candace prepared for the reality that Theo may not make it. Candace brings us a Thanksgiving update.

All photos courtesy of Candace Wade

All photos courtesy of Candace Wade

New to Theo’s story? Catch up by clicking the #SAVING THEO hashtag at the top of this page.

Here’s a slice of Thanksgiving pie. I had prepared myself for the reality that Theo may lose his battle to re-grow sturdy hooves. Then, Ed e-mailed that the farrier was coming and fingers were crossed that he could put some kind of shoe on Theo’s worst foot. I checked my e-mail all day – waiting – visualizing good news. Then, *bling* — the message popped up. Theo was sporting a new, custom designed shoe!  This is an exciting first step towards the full meal of thanks for health for Theo.

Ed describes the process

Two months had slithered by. Theo still wasn’t growing sides to his most damaged hoof. He was still eating grapes (actually, he’d moved to pears for autumn) and was clumping around in a kind of standing cast with a frog support pad.

“The farrier trimmed a section of hoof on Theo’s damaged front foot, showing the ooze of white line disease still present,” (but greatly reduced since the last time I had received a report from Ed). “You can see the gray substance, but above it, the hoof wall itself looks less chalky and the white line is now restricted to this one area.”

Ed continued to explain that, “The sole of this foot had not previously had any hoof wall. Separation can still be seen at the sides, but the sides are growing — at long last. And the separation in the front has completely filled in with reasonable quality hoof.”

A quick look at the picture Ed sent and one would think the hoof looked normal. “The sole, however, continues to abscess and the hoof quality isn’t first rate BUT it’s so much better than it was. Because the foot has improved and I want to get him out of the stall and out of the standing cast so that the air can circulate around the foot, the farrier constructed a special shoe for Theo.”

A picture shows that “the handmade shoe has strategically located nail holes only at the toe, because the walls aren’t good enough yet to hold a horse shoe nail for long. The toes, however, are all new growth and are pretty strong. So Theo has four nails in the front and offset away from the front with the sides of the shoe with no nails. This raises Theo’s sole off the ground, and provides relief at the toe from pressure on his cannon bone. The construction of the side of the shoe allows us to medicate under the shoe by accessing the hoof wall from the side.”

Theo's new shoe.

Theo’s new shoe.

What else?

Ed and his team are still combating infection and struggling to encourage hoof growth. Constant treatment continues. Ed explains, “we squirt in Gibson’s stock dressing, an excellent antibiotic preparation into both front feet twice a day. Tomorrow, a paste that has great results with hard to get rid of thrush, is injected in the crevices where the white line is and in the voids under the shoe itself. We’ll do this every day for 14 days and then reevaluate. ”

After 15 months of working on Theo’s feet, the most highly damaged front foot looks almost like a healthy foot. The kool aid acid test is when Theo is turned out with his new shoe. Ed told me that Theo “will be wearing a special boot so no rocks or other irritant gets between the shoe and the sides of the foot, or bruises the sole, especially since it is clearing an abscess, a constant problem with a horse whose soles have been pared down to almost nothing.”

If Theo is a good horse, and doesn’t freak out at a kitten or a cloud and go crashing around his corral, this new, custom Jimmy Choo-worthy shoe may help him get closer to everything being right.

Theo showing growth on the side walls.

Theo showing growth on the side walls.

I give deep thanks that I have been allowed to be in Theo and Ed’s lives, been entrusted with Theo’s story and that I can bring a large slice of good news regarding his road to having a satisfying horse life.

(Note: I have compiled all the suggestions offered to help Theo; why they would or would not work on the specific damage to this ex- big lick Tennessee Walker show horse; the methods used by Ed and his team and the cost to date as the efforts to save Theo continue. This information will be available in Horse Nation in the next “Saving Theo” installment.)

Candace will continue to follow Theo’s recovery. All of Theo’s stories are tagged #SAVING THEO and can be accessed by clicking the hashtag at the top of this page.

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