Jake’s Journey – Part 1 (Founder)

 This is part 1 of 3 that was originally titled Jake’s Journey.  I was documenting everything that Jake had gone through with his hooves, knowing that one day he would be cured and I could use his story to help other horse owners.  Founder, is actually part 4 of what I had written but is most pertinent now.  Check back the next few days for parts 2 and 3 of Jake’s Journey with founder.

A year ago this weekend is one I will never forget. The weekend started out normal enough, a beautiful fall day with a cool front pushing through. Since poor Jake battles hoof problems, the rain signaled some stall time for the Percheron. For whatever reason, the cooler temperatures, the change in barometric pressure, or just that fact that it was a Saturday, Jake got a very minor tummy-ache.

We got through the weekend with the help of some banamine (an injection used to help horses cope with stomachaches) and by Monday morning, Jake was out grazing again. Life was good – or so I thought until dinner that night.

I was sitting on my porch, admiring Jake’s eating, when I noticed that he was picking up his feet in an unusual way: he would take turns and rest his front feet and not put any pressure on them while he grazed. But with Jake and his hoof problems, I thought that either he had something stuck in them or his canker was flaring up on him. I decided to call him into dinner a little early and give me time to treat him with my little bag of tricks.

He wouldn’t come in from pasture. Jake lives for meal times. I came down one time when I was riding Jake when he saw the “food wagon” signaling dinner and became so excited he started jumping in place. This boy loves his food. So I knew something was wrong when I had to get a halter to bring him in.

He had a significant limp. I checked him out in the pasture to make sure that he didn’t have something stuck in his hooves. Nothing! We managed to make it slowly back to his stall. By the time we got there, he didn’t want to pick up his feet for me to allow me to take a look. I treated him the best I could and gave him dinner. He ate with his normal enthusiasm and his feet didn’t appear to trouble him throughout dinner.

Afterwards, I turned him out in his small pasture, between the house and the barn, so I could keep an eye on him. He couldn’t figure out how to move his feet at all. When he did try to move, he would do a little hop / jump thing that made my heart fall into my stomach.

My first thought was that he had eaten something bad and had either a neurological reaction or an inner-ear problem, like when cats eat those skinks. I placed a call to my trainer who over the course of time had seen every issue known to man or horse. What she told me signaled a nightmare I didn’t even know existed: “He’s foundering! Get a vet out there and put his feet on ice!”


About Heather Hamel

Growing up with horses is a little girls dream come true. Heather’s dream in life was to be a horse trainer - how dreams change - sort of! She moved to the wonderfully historic town of St. Augustine, Florida and was a historic tour guide and a ghost story teller while putting herself through college to become a special education teacher. After graduating, she felt the pull of horses in her life again. That's when she met Kobi! She learned quickly that when you own horses you become a part time vet, part time nutritionist, and full time equestrian. She wouldn't change a thing! In addition to being completely obsessed with her herd, she still teaches and tutors students with learning disabilities, and more specifically, dyslexia.
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