When we first got Ren, she refused to even lift up her feet. Our farrier at the time was able to do a basic trim on her, but man oh man, did she ever put her weight on him. To clean out her feet I would try to get her to prop them up resting on the ground. What a mess!
Picking up all four feet from one side is a basic Level One Parelli task. I didn't think we'd ever get there! George and I persisted, and today, she lifts her feet lightly when asked, and pretty much holds her feet up on her own for my husband to trim her.
We have her on a 3 week trim cycle, and follow Pete Ramey's natural hoofcare techniques. Because it was costing us over $75 for a trim that was not addressing her flared and unbalanced feet, my husband studied trimming and a friend with farrier experience helped us start working on Ren ourselves. After addressing the obvious problems with her feet, we felt x-rays would give us a clearer picture of what was happening to cause her lameness.
You can see the extensive sidebone growth in the x-rays above (x-rays are of front feet only). Vet thought her feet looked excellent (at the time, we didn't tell her George was trimming her until AFTER we had her assess the feet - wanted an unbiased opinion of the trim job.) and attributed Ren's sporadic (but persistent) lameness to the sidebones.
Not a great prognosis - I was hoping for something that has a proven treatment method associated with it. Not too much out there on sidebones.... and nothing out there on ways of treating lameness attributed to sidebones. So... George and I decided to treat the sidebones with daily supplements & anti-inflamatory (Ren gets a daily vitamin from Dynamite, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Vitamin C, and a Bute substitute daily mixed into about 2 cups of plain whole oats and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of corn oil), a strict trim cycle that promotes a heel first impact (every three weeks), turnout 24/7 (unless the weather turns really nasty), and we just purchased new hoof boots for her. I'm hoping that the hoof boots will allow her to exercise and move correctly.
Our vet is interested in seeing what happens. We plan on doing x-rays again this coming summer to see if what we are doing is impacting Ren's feet. Our vet says that she's diagnosed lameness attributed to sidebones before, but no one ever follows up regarding rehabbing the horse. Most times, she says, the owner (if they keep the horse) keeps the horse as a pasture ornament.
My research online makes me tend to agree with her. Sidebones (different sources say) rarely cause lameness, but when they do there isn't a treatment method that we could find. There was some information alluding to sidebones being reabsorbed if the hoof mechanics are working properly (heel first impact, etc...) so this is where we are starting. We don't have much other choice. Ren's really changed our lives, no one else is going to want a draft horse with chronic lameness issues. My personal goal for Ren is to be a general purpose trail riding horse so that she can lead a productive life as more then just a pasture ornament.