Question: Where should you draw the line on trying to save crippled horses?
Answer: Most of the time there is a consensus between the owner, vet and farrier to quit on a horse. However sometimes there isn’t. There seems to be a very complex equation full of maybes and what-ifs. It is very difficult to be the one in the group to stand up and say it's over.
For example, I was working on a laminitis case that didn’t seem to progress in either direction for months. The vet would say we just have to keep working. The owner would say anything for her baby. I decided to take a fresh look at the case from the beginning and I suddenly realized that two-thirds of his coffin bone was gone. It had been reabsorbed, although the coffin bone hadn’t come through the sole. I’m still confident that it was the right decision too late, (that experience will be with me a long time).
As a result, at this point, I have to say that making or being a part of this decision starts with being my own worst critic. I must be very clear on the limitations of my abilities and diligent about staying within those limitations. It is not always easy to ask for another shoer's help, but it is exactly how I’ve learned everything about shoeing horses.
In the end it’s never easy to draw the line on a horse, and for me, it is never a comfortable decision to make.