Read below to find out about Nick and one of camp’s trusty mare’s, Bertha! His passion for horses and their well-being shines through his writing. He is so excited to share that passion with all of our CGS guests- year round!
Hello, my name is Nick Liebherr. As of November 6th, 2015 I am the new Equestrian Director at Camp Grady Spruce. Previous to working at camp I have been establishing my Farrier practice in north Texas. I also am aspiring to be a Professional Pick-up Man in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). My wife and I came to Texas at the beginning of 2015 from Wyoming and Montana. My wife, Jennifer, attended University of Wyoming with a major in agriculture business and I am a graduate of The Butler Professional Farrier School- Advanced Farrier program. We bring ranching and equestrian backgrounds with us to camp and look forward to implementing them into the programming.
Bertha is a familiar face to many at camp, a character that has made an impression on many. Her impact on me was her drive and ability to get around even with everything she had holding her back. Bertha is a 17 year old mare that came to camp from the North Texas Humane Society.
Bertha has a condition called Navicular Syndrome. Navicular effects and degrades the structures within the underside and back of the horses hoof capsule. This is a very vital area for a horse because that area of the foot acts as the fulcrum for the large tendon called the deep flexor tendon. This tendon bears the horses weight and propels its body forward over the horses foot. Navicular can be very painful depending on which structure is affected. This is magnified by a horse that may be overweight because it is difficult for them to move around. It is also magnified by a horses conformation, or the way their body is built. Navicular-prone horses are ones whose leg is at a more severe angle from the fetlock down. We call this being under run, because of that severe angle the horse has to pull against that fulcrum with greater force to break their foot over at the toe to take a step. This breakdown usually takes years to be noticeable but can be accelerated by hard use of the prone horse. Bertha has the factors of age, bad leg conformation, and obesity making her condition noticeable.
So as Bertha’s caretakers, we are taking all the steps that we can affect to improve her condition. We cannot fix age, we are all getting older and we can all feel it. The bad leg conformation has been improved by hand made horse shoes from 5/16 x 1” steel bar stock with a rolled toe and 3 degree plastic wedge pads that are riveted to the shoe prior to nailing them to the hoof. The shoes were made from the heavier stock to provide more protection and base of support under the pad where she had sensitive soles and the wedge of the pad provides her leg with lift at her heel reducing the load on the deep flexor tendon and requiring less effort to break the toe over when she steps. You could see the relief she felt as soon as I placed the foot back on the ground with this shoe packaged nailed on. Bertha was not only able to get around comfortably but have found her running and chasing other horses out in the pasture. Bertha has been moved to the Ray Bean herd where she will naturally get more exercise walking from food to water and she has appeared to have lost over 50 pounds in a 4 week period. Bertha is well on her way and is ready to be rode again in our trail string and continue providing enjoyment to all our guests at camp.