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When The 'Job' Goes Well Beyond

January 9, 2018

*Spotlight* Jan '18

This months *Spotlight* highlights the wonderful work of Libby Franz

Dip. of Equine Podiotherapy & Cert III ACEHP and owner/operator of Dare to Go Bare.



2 year old Crabbet Arab



What I'm about to share with you is going to make you cringe.  It'll give you goosebumps and I guarantee it'll make you want to friendly-fence your property, much like a Hollywood-style psych ward.  


At the start of June this year, Noah slipped over in the paddock, putting all 4 feet through ring lock fencing. With a degloved leg and losing lots of blood, a quick thinking friend Mel wrapped a towel around his leg to staunch bleeding.  In the blink of an eye Noah went from great endurance prospects to date night with the green dream (being put to sleep).  With a cold feeling of dread in their stomachs, the owner, Libby and Mel anxiously waited for needles and stitches to arrive, each tortuous minute reluctantly forgoing it's tenure.   As it does during times like this.



“I’ll have to put him down”.  Unfortunately the vet didn’t have any good skin to work with, let alone stitch and felt he was left with little choice but to recommend euthanasia.  The wound was a mess, the risk for infection was high and this was a young, rambunctious horse.  The situation looked pretty grim and tough decisions needed to be made. 



Being put to sleep is so final, bringing with it sadness, grief and plenty of ‘what if’s’.  But taking on intensive rehabilitation ‘jobs’ such as this is like taking a base jump.. you grit your teeth and do your best.  Healing horse wounds, Libby reflects, is not dissimilar to healing human wounds, it's the other factors that can make the journey tough going; the owner may run out of finances part way through, you know you're up for more 'work' than what you're likely able to charge for and of course things can take unexpected turns. But alas, hope propagates.   

“We can fix this” said Libby.


And off they jumped…



Libby has been professionally trimming for over 12 years and has been fortunate to see and experience the birth of the barefoot movement in Australia.   Barefoot has certainly come along way since migrating to our shores, including advancements in research & science, education, public awareness, hoof boot technology and demand.  Many brave mavericks have made this movement possible, despite the tenacious and cumbersome nature of long-held traditions, so kudos to all the pioneers! When asked what she'd like to see before eventually hanging up her tools, Libby said she'd "like to see barefoot as the norm".  "I see many kids coming through now that don't view shoes as normal."  


While Libby spends most of her professional time trimming horses and dealing with hoof pathologies she also provides intensive laminitis rehabilitation at her property in southern Tasmania.  Her ‘job’ is the epitome of passion.  It is compelling, it's certainly demanding, it smacks of dedication and often goes well beyond the task she is paid for.  It's one thing to be satisfied with a job well done, it's in a whole other league when you affect change.  When you influence wellbeing or end suffering.  It's hard not to turn up, because that stuff right there, that's gold! 


No, not all horses can or should be saved and you just seem to know when that line must be respected.  It’s often a tough call, but the ‘job’ does allow a level of detachment to do so.   And then there are exceptions.  It’s really hard to waiver a horse’s future just because

                  Libby and Merlin





there’s a job to do that very few are able or willing or can afford what it’s going to take.  Not just financially, but the time (oh the time! I’m talking middle of the night, in your pyjamas with head torches! Often!) the commitment (obviously) and the smarts to work outside the box.   


Speaking from experience, when a certain horse comes into your life that needs you, really needs you, it has a synchronistic little twinkle about it and can feel rather fateful.  Is it a calling?  Who knows, but it’s certainly far from just a job.  


Something says “don’t give up just yet” which certainly hangs in tentative balance (day to day, week to week) but as long as there is clear progress, prognosis is improving and the horse is not suffering, there is light.  Luckily Noah had a great human team by his side who were up for the task (including Libby's daughter who is an ER nurse).  He was taken to Libby's rehabilitation centre (where the majority of patients tend to be laminitic horses) so his high needs could be met.  


Noah's recovery was frustratingly slow, but stubbornly hopeful.  He was “meticulously bandaged” reflects Libby, "every few days for nearly 5 months so far" (just take that in for a moment).  Proud flesh was the ever-present adversary to healing, like the cliched and over-protective helicopter parent.   Proud flesh or “exuberant granulation tissue” starts out as normal healing.  Wound healing requires a process to ‘fill the gap’ and relies on the skin to contract, as well as new tissue to migrate across the damaged area.  When this process gets a little too excited about it’s very important role, it actually makes matters worse by creating excessive tissue, leaving the wound a protrusive, cauliflowered sight to behold and slowing or preventing a conclusion to healing.  Sometimes it can be so large, it catches and reopens the wound.  For this reason, the proud flesh on Noah’s leg was debrided (cut away) several times over the months (under sedation by the vet) and skin grafts were discussed, but fortunately not needed.  




progression of healing 







 beginning of October  


Since this last picture, Noah, being the young clown he is, had a setback by re-injuring this leg.  It was at this point his owner, spent of momentum, offered him to Libby if she were prepared to continue his treatment.  Despite utter exasperation at such misfortune Libby chose to press on with his rehabilitation, which we are told is coming along really well.  


We were thrilled when Libby told us she’d been using Happy Horse Australias SkinBalm on the edges of Noah's wound with fantastic success.  Keeping the new, forming tissue moist and protected “which has been the key” shares Libby, is vital in the healing process along with minimising chronic inflammation and scalding of the skin from discharge.  SkinBalm was formulated with these attributes in mind and is made from powerful skin healing herbs.  These herbs have earned their well deserved reputation as wound heroes over many centuries.  Nature is the brains, we just carefully selected a special blend of herbs and combined them in a zinc and beeswax based cream.  All natural.  Super effective!  Did I mention it smells divine?  It does!



It’s no wonder many aren’t up for the task of intense rehabilitation, it’s not for the feint hearted OR the impatient.   Noah’s rehabilitation has been a testament to all involved.  The owner’s belief in Libby’s intuitive discernment, Libby’s unrelenting and skilful commitment to the daily care of a high needs horse (over many months) the vet’s amenable and greatly appreciated support as well as friend Mel for her helping hands and wonder-daughter ER nurse Abbey… and a little help from SkinBalm.  The makers of which, also prone to deeply rooted passion for what they do ; )






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