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  1. #1
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    Default Cosmetic Procedures on Dogs...

    (Because I'm a glutton for punishment...)

    No, but really - I hope this can be not too trainwreck-y because I'm quite interested to see how this community feels about it versus a lot of the dog-only people. When you venture into breeds where it is 99.9% expected in show breeds (in the US), obviously few people have a "problem" with it and some even state they would leave the breed if it became illegal because they really dislike the aesthetics of an unaltered dog (I know some dobie folks feel very strongly about this.)

    I'm a bit on the fence. I don't think it's animal cruelty or abuse by any means - as far as I can tell, the dogs don't seem to mind these procedures much, and adjust quite well to the alterations. However, is it really appropriate to put a dog through pain (even small amounts) for a cosmetic-only reason?

    As far as non-cosmetic reasons given for some of the procedures, I think some are valid and some are not.

    - Ear cropping: as far as I can tell, in most of the breeds that practice cropping, there isn't much reason beyond aesthetics these days unless you are doing a military crop that is extremely short (keeps ears from getting ripped up in fights with other dogs - but how often is that happening?) I think the ear infection thing is mostly bogus as well. Ear infections in most breeds tend to stem from allergies or diet issues.

    - Tail docking: The main reason I see to still dock is that many breeders paid no attention to selecting for a suitable tail (why would you when it gets nipped when pups are days old) and now sometimes these breeds end up with wonky tails that are prone to injury when left natural. Anyone who's dealt with trying to heal "happy tail" injuries can tell you about the fun of that and how much more painful adult amputations are if they become needed. Still, is it appropriate to remove an appendage for just in case measures when the dog clearly has some use for it otherwise?

    - Dew claw removal: In dogs where these are extremely loosely attached, I think it make sense to clip them when they are teeny pups (dew claw snags are nasty). However, some breeds seem to have more tightly attached dew claws that are useful during working events.

    Anyway, despite liking the look of some crops/docks/etc, I think I've come to the conclusion that when it's purely for cosmetic reasons, I'm not comfortable with the surgeries. I love the look of a cropped doberman, for example, but I don't think I would do the procedures if given a choice. Again, I don't think it's animal cruelty or abuse or heartless "mutilation" as som like to say, I just struggle with the ethics of it I guess.

    Growing up in saddlebred land, I feel similarly about set tails - a set tail really doesn't bug the horse much at all (except when it's kept up in the set) and I like the look of it. However, after leaving the discipline (mostly) and getting a broader view of things, I think it's just something you get used to and decide looks good. It's not necessary, and it does cause some discomfort, so why do it? It just seems a bit antiquated. Everyone in the discipline thinks it's fine and looks stunning, but maybe it is all just what you get used to?



  2. #2
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    Default

    Without getting too much into the politics of alterations....I will say that in many (most?) breeds the only thing altered in a tail docking is the length. Certainly in sporting breeds (weims, brittanys, springers), you don't change the tail set.....I think the same in working breeds (rotty, dobs, etc.)

    So it's not really about "selecting a suitable tail" it's just a preference for the tail length. So...not sure exactly what you mean about "suitable" tail....most are not *wonky*, they are just longer than desired.



  3. #3
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    I think the ear cropping is abuse. It is extremely painful for some length of time and if the puppy has to have them taped or wear that stupid cup it is aggravating for them. Have you ever been around one after they have been butchered for some stupid human vanity or perception of what looks good? It should be banned. Some vets refuse to do it. Docking is stupid too. But at least if it's done very young the pain is not as bad or lengthy -- not condoning it either. Dewclaw removal is probably the only thing that actually serves a purpose by getting rid of that appendage that really doesn't serve a purpose and can get hung up on something and be a nasty injury. Otherwise -- it's just butchery, cruel and unnecessary.
    PennyG



  4. #4
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    I've had a cropped boxer and a natural boxer. I'll never crop an ear again. It's way too much pain for the dog for something that is purely cosmetic. Besides, my boxer is completely adorable with his natural ears. If you want a dog to have stand up ears, then by all means, breed them that way.

    Tail crops I'm a bit more understandig of. They are done extremely early in life when the nerve endings aren't fully developed. It hurts for mere minutes, and then it's over. I woudn't hesitate to own a boxer with a natural tail, but I'm fine with tail crops. I will say that they need to be done by a qualified vet though.

    Dew claws, that's an interesting question. They are not useless appendages. Many working dogs use the dew claw as a balancing mechanism. I've seen my agility dogs use them, and I hear that a lot of sighthounds use them when running. If you want to take them off, fine, it's kind of like tail cropping. It hurts for a short amount of time, and then it's done.

    What's truely sad, is that the AKC punishes dogs with natural ears in the show ring. The boxer breed standard states that the judge should take off points for a dog with natural ears. So if you have two dogs identical in every way except one has natural ears one is cropped, the cropped dog will be placed above the natual dog every time. There is something wrong with that....



  5. #5
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    Yikes! No judgement but I like my Golden and JRT just the way God made them.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bort84 View Post
    Anyway, despite liking the look of some crops/docks/etc, I think I've come to the conclusion that when it's purely for cosmetic reasons, I'm not comfortable with the surgeries. I love the look of a cropped doberman, for example, but I don't think I would do the procedures if given a choice. Again, I don't think it's animal cruelty or abuse or heartless "mutilation" as som like to say, I just struggle with the ethics of it I guess.
    This kind of sums it up for me. I do think cropping ears borders on abuse, honestly. I've seen puppies right after it was done and to me it seemed they were clearly uncomfortable and in pain. Since it serves no purpose at all and the recovery process is fairly long, I really do not like it. However, I would not call people who adhere to a breed standard like that abusive or cruel, if that makes sense. Like you said, it is a matter of perspective.

    Tail docking and dew claw removal should be done on a case-by-case basis as much as possible. I did know a pit cross with a really long thin tail that she broke several times. I think she should have been docked. However I also deal with ACDs which are docked fairly regularly, even though IMO it's really stupid--my dogs with natural tails clearly use their tails to help counterbalance on really sharp turns, and there's no practical reason to dock them (the one I always hear is so that livestock won't step on the tail--I'm like, have you guys ever actually seen a heeler around livestock?).

    Same with dew claws, if they are really loose and likely to snag then I'm fine with removal, but if they're not, then I think it should be left alone. OTOH I have never raised a puppy in a breed with dew claws or wonky tails, so I don't know how soon that becomes evident. Since from what I have seen tail docking and dew claw removal are relatively painless, I do think if there is a question or concern then it is probably a good idea to do it young. Having seen tail and dew claw injuries I think it's kinder to prevent it if possible.

    However, doing anything invasive to an animal purely for cosmetic reasons never sat right with me. But then, I don't even clip my horses' ears or nose/eye whiskers.



  7. #7
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    I don't like cropped ears, never have, I just love long, floppy, soft, tuggable ears! So I probably wouldn't choose a breed with naturally upright ears either

    LOVE docked tails!! And the extra wiggly butts that come with them! My JRT's breeder(Canadian) doesn't do any of the above, so he has a natural tail, wouldn't stop me from getting another from her tho.

    Dew claws, I think it depends on how secure they are, I've never met a dog, who had them, where they were loose.

    Since we're talking cosmetic surgery for dogs, what do you think of replacing removed testes with the silicon ones?? All in one surgery.

    LBR
    I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

    R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed



  8. #8
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    I think fake testicles are absolutely absurd. Plus if the dog ever goes missing or you have to rehome it, I don't know how obvious it would be that he was actually neutered. But they're not cruel from what I know about them.

    However, if I ever knew anyone who got those for their dog I think I would lose a lot of respect for them. I hate to say it, but it's true--it just seems so immature and pointless and hints at some issues with the owner. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that's what I think...

    Just like the "truck balls" you see occasionally...I just can't respect a man who feels the need to put that on his truck. Makes me think he's rather inadequate, or at least insecure.



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by CosMonster View Post
    Tail docking and dew claw removal should be done on a case-by-case basis as much as possible. I did know a pit cross with a really long thin tail that she broke several times. I think she should have been docked. However I also deal with ACDs which are docked fairly regularly, even though IMO it's really stupid--my dogs with natural tails clearly use their tails to help counterbalance on really sharp turns, and there's no practical reason to dock them
    Same with dew claws, if they are really loose and likely to snag then I'm fine with removal, but if they're not, then I think it should be left alone. OTOH I have never raised a puppy in a breed with dew claws or wonky tails, so I don't know how soon that becomes evident. Since from what I have seen tail docking and dew claw removal are relatively painless, I do think if there is a question or concern then it is probably a good idea to do it young. Having seen tail and dew claw injuries I think it's kinder to prevent it if possible.

    .
    Dew claws and tails are done VERY young (like a few days), too early to tell if they are loose/wonky. I know a dog with a tail that pretty much bled all the time because he would split it open when he wagged, untill he got it amputated. I also know several dogs with loose dews (rescues, so not breeder pups who get done as pups). One dog partially ripped off his dew while playing. It bled ridiculous amounts and had to be amputated. He acted like it was quite painful.

    That is the problem right there. As a young puppy, it is just a quick snip and is quick, almost painless, and requires no surgery or recovery. As an adult, it is an amputation. That means surgery, pain meds, recovery, and IME the amputated tail didn't look nearlly as nice as a docked tail.

    I would never crop ears, but I am NOT against cropping with a knowledgeable vet with lots of experience and an owner who knows how to care for the ears afterwords.
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bort84 View Post
    However, is it really appropriate to put a dog through pain (even small amounts) for a cosmetic-only reason?
    Short answer, imo? No. However it is not that black-and-white.

    Ear cropping: I've seen ear cropping in practice and do not really feel it to be a painful or overly uncomfortable procedure (any moreso than say S/N). Aesthetic is used to trim the dog's ears according to breed/type/style, then the sewn ears are taped up to 'set'. Puppies I've seen seemed happy, playful, and to not really mind whatsoever.

    That said, I would never do it myself, though I love the 'sharp' look. It's a MUCH more invasive procedure than the docked tail. I have never had a dog with cropped ears, but in my mind, it is best to leave the ear as nature intended - the ear flops over for a reason, presumably to protect inner structures from debris and weather.

    So while I don't judge those who do crop or who have dogs whose ears are cropped, it is not something that sits entirely well with me, simply because it is done for aesthetic reasons (with some exceptions).

    Tail docking: I have yet to see tail docking in action, so cannot formulate an honest opinion entirely. That said, I feel this too is done primarily, if not solely, for aesthetic reasons, and therefore it makes me uncomfortable. When I decided on obtaining a Doberman, I specifically sought one without a docked tail. Since you have to 'pre-order' a puppy if you want one with a full tail since they do it at such an early age and that wasn't my cup of tea, I ended up going for a crossbred that threw to the Dobe side, but that had a full tail.

    I don't buy the 'fragile tail' justification for docking tails. I've seen Rotties, Pitties, and many others with full tails and they did just fine. My Dobe's tail sure as heck was anything but fragile, any other (including purebred) Dobe's tails I've seen were just as sturdy, and I've even had Greyhounds, whose tails you would think would be THE ultimate fragile tails - no breakage. Broken tails happen. But no one is breeding selectively for certain tails that are fragile (thus necessitating docking as a breed). And these tails are not easily broken in the bush, either If that were the case, ALL hunting breeds' tails should be docked, from coursing Greyhounds to Hounds. And don't try to tell me Rottie tails are fragile!! Docked tails so livestock don't step on them?? Good grief, then we'd better dock BC's and other livestock breeds while we're at it. Except in certain circumstances (certain dogs or certain situations), there really is no reason to dock a dog's tail unless perhaps it is a guard dog (and even then, who's ever seen German Shepherds, as a breed, with docked tails??). Any other reason, for the most (or only) part, is aesthetic. Those tails are necessary for communication, balance, etc, so I strongly feel they should be left on unless that specific individual requires a docked tail for a specific non-aesthetic reason.

    Dew claw removal: I did have the hind dewclaws removed on my current year-old pup, especially because hers were non-articulating. Recovery from surgery was uncomfortable for her - obviously the stitches rubbing against the flooring (etc) was much more uncomfortable even than the actual spay. I ended up re-dressing her bandages several times and it was clear she was in pain (soulful eyes included, haha) during the procedure. However personally, it was too great a risk to leave them attached, due to the potential for serious injury and nerve damage, particularly considering my dogs are outside and in the bush a LOT. This was done after careful research and consideration, and at the recommendation of several vets, and not for aesthetic purposes. I really did not want to and had initially decided against it, but ultimately decided 'for' the procedure when the vets called and asked, as she lay on the table having her spay. When done as such, I have no issue with the procedure.


    Hopefully this does not descend into a trainwreck but if it does, it's a shame because it shouldn't - we should be able to express our opinions and offer up various perspectives and points while maintaining respect for one another and without descending to name-calling and bashing. We're adults.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  11. #11
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    I hate cropped ears. The flap is there for a REASON. If you want a dog whose ears stand up, get a breed whose ears do that naturally. And I think Dobes and Danes look beautiful with their natural ears.

    Abuse? I think that's a little overblown in light of the actual abuses that sadly occur far too often. Unless it's some yahoo doing home butchery in an attempt to avoid spending money by having a vet doing it.

    Dewclaws and tail-docking don't bother me as much. I've seen dogs with torn dewclaws, and I don't just mean the nail. It's extremely painful for the dog. If they're removed when the pup is just days old, it's momentary discomfort, and they settle right back down after. My two came from a rescue and both have their dewclaws, but they're small and haven't caused any problems. Plus both dogs are into "self-manicures"; they tend to nibble the claws very short!

    As far as fake testicles - the only reason I can think of someone doing this is to try to cheat in the show ring. I once knew an absolutely beautiful Golden Retriever who got her championship in spite of having been spayed very young. Apparently the breeder had discovered that one of the parents tended to pass along juvenile cataracts and didn't want to further that gene, but wanted the title for the kennel. She then went to a pet home and was loved and cherished til she died at age 15.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    I hate cropped ears. The flap is there for a REASON. If you want a dog whose ears stand up, get a breed whose ears do that naturally. And I think Dobes and Danes look beautiful with their natural ears.

    .
    I'm not arguing for/against cropping, I just want to comment on this. Dog's ears flop because we bred them to flop, no other reason. If floppy ears were beneficial, then why don't you see wolves, foxes, or coyotes with floppy ears?
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Grey_hunter View Post
    I'm not arguing for/against cropping, I just want to comment on this. Dog's ears flop because we bred them to flop, no other reason. If floppy ears were beneficial, then why don't you see wolves, foxes, or coyotes with floppy ears?
    Good point but with wolves, foxes, and coyotes (and breeds with naturally-standing ears such as GS's, Akitas, Huskies, etc) you also see a great deal more hair inside the ear to protect internal structures, than you see in the breeds whose ears are typically cropped (ie, Dobes, Danes, Pitties). On the other hand, some studies on the benefit versus potential detriment, and the viability, of standing versus natural ears in breeds whose ears are traditionally cropped, would be beneficial

    Maybe it really does make no difference to the dog health-wise, and cropped ears are just fine. I'd honestly love to find some research to indicate one way or another. Then we're only dealing with the actual process, which really is similar to a S/N when you think about it (except for the cup on the head, but that's merely a mild nuisance - like having to wear a cone, only for longer - they quickly grow accustomed to), except for the difference in purpose between the two surgeries.

    Eta: I was going to point out that Hyenas and African Wild Dogs don't have much hair in their ears though theirs are bat-like and standing, leaving us to wonder then what sort of protection they have and how it relates to our domestic dogs... but then I checked out a few photos and found they actually have quite a bit of protective hair also. Certainly more than say a Pittie with cropped ears. Are there studies out there that address this? Are internal ear injuries (etc) more common in dogs lacking ear hair but having cropped ears?? I would certainly suspect so.
    Last edited by naturalequus; May. 10, 2011 at 11:52 PM.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by naturalequus View Post
    Good point but with wolves, foxes, and coyotes (and breeds with naturally-standing ears such as GS's, Akitas, Huskies, etc) you also see a great deal more hair inside the ear to protect internal structures, than you see in the breeds whose ears are typically cropped (ie, Dobes, Danes, Pitties).
    Good point, I hadn't thought of that
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  15. #15
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    Tails and dews I can live with, the pups cry for about 15 seconds and then forget about it. I HATE ear cropping! It's done when they are older andin my limited experience lots of complications. Not a lot of places in my area actually do it anymore. I question the care taken with the anesthesia and pain control, just from the post-ops I've seen.

    The problem is that for some breeds its the standard and has to be done to show the dog ( at least this is my understanding, please correct if I am wrong but I know they fo it for UKC ABPT's).

    Unless they are fighting it serves no purpose! It's just for looks and its so ugly.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dry Clean Only View Post
    Tails and dews I can live with, the pups cry for about 15 seconds and then forget about it. I HATE ear cropping! It's done when they are older andin my limited experience lots of complications. Not a lot of places in my area actually do it anymore. I question the care taken with the anesthesia and pain control, just from the post-ops I've seen.

    The problem is that for some breeds its the standard and has to be done to show the dog ( at least this is my understanding, please correct if I am wrong but I know they fo it for UKC ABPT's).

    Unless they are fighting it serves no purpose! It's just for looks and its so ugly.
    That is right, cutting ears, we had two dobies and their ears were already cut when we got them.
    The breeders 40 years ago would not let a puppy go until their vets had cut their ears at about 8 weeks or so, so they were done right.
    We didn't get any more dobies after that, when they just would not let us have one without their ears cut.
    The aftercare is not fun for a puppy or it's owners.

    Tails, that doesn't bother a few days old puppy, they don't hardly know anything at that time and for some big dogs, like great danes, you have not seen anything until you have seen those long tails bleeding all over the place time and again and finally have to be amputated as an adult.
    Their tails and the helicopter way great danes use them canbe a weapon of mass destruction for everything around them and themselves.
    I see why some want tails in some breeds cut and at a few days old, it is not that bad for the puppy, they really don't know it.

    Now, dewclaws, some think it helps their dog and maybe it does, but active dogs do tear them and it is a mess to then fix the leg.
    We had to do one of our toy poodles dewclaws when she was spayed, because she had torn them badly several times.
    Would have been so much better if the breeder or vet had cut them at a few days old.
    Our border collies came from good breeders that cut them, as they had seen the consequences of active dogs and some of those declaw problems.

    I think we should let breeders and their vets decide what to do with their dogs and if we don't like what they do, go get your dog somewhere else, like we did with our dobies.



  17. #17
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    I worked for a vet through college and assisted with tails and dewclaws on several litters. The puppies barely seemed to notice either procedure, honestly.

    My vet would only do them from 3-5 days of age. No earlier, no later. He wouldn't do them on adults unless they had a problem - we had one that we did dewclaws on because he tore one and let me tell you, it bled like a mother and was a painful procedure at his age.

    He would not do ears - felt it was inhumane and referred them elsewhere. The last one he did many years before did not go well, despite being textbook, and he felt that it was unnecessary.

    So, I am ok with tails and dewclaws, but not with ears. I also love full natural ears better anyways.



  18. #18
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    The Dobe rescue here will not adopt an uncut (ears) dog to anyone who intends to have the ears cropped. Now, how they police this I don't know, but the adopter has to sign a statement that they will leave natural ears alone. I have a co-worker for whom this was a dealbreaker; instead, she spent $1500 on a puppy because she wanted cropped ears.
    I kept my mouth shut - her money, her dog, her business, and she's a good attentive dog owner. But I really just don't get it - she got the dog strictly as a pet, so why the big deal about ear cropping?

    As for Great Danes, I'd rather see the ears left natural and the tails docked. THAT makes more sense, as those whip-like tails can be quite destructive to themselves, never mind any objects or bare skin within striking range.

    Can someone enlighten me on docked tails in the terrier breeds? I'd always just thought it was done to give the badgers, rats, gophers, etc. one less thing to grab onto, while still giving the handler a "handle" by which to lower the terrier into its prey's lair.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    Can someone enlighten me on docked tails in the terrier breeds? I'd always just thought it was done to give the badgers, rats, gophers, etc. one less thing to grab onto, while still giving the handler a "handle" by which to lower the terrier into its prey's lair.
    That's my understanding, expect to grab them out of the hole, instead of dropping them in, JRTs need NO help going in after a critter

    I've used my JRT's tail to pull him out or away from a few dens,very effective!

    LBR
    I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

    R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    I hate cropped ears. The flap is there for a REASON.
    Not always a purposeful reason, though. In dobes, for example, there is evidence that developers of the breed attempted - and failed - to create naturally upright ears. So, the breed was intended to have upright ears for a REASON, but that couldn't be done naturally.

    I'll add I purposely did NOT have my dobes ears croppedbecause I couldn't see the point in putting him through an unnecessary surgery for what would be asthetic reasons for us. He is just a pet, not a conformation show or stud dog. His tail was docked and dew claws removed at a few days old (before I even picked him out), though. As others have described, I tend to agree that there is a big difference between docking the tail / removing dew claws at a couple days old and cropping ears. I'm not sure I think ear cropping is abuse or should be outlawed, but I wouldn't choose to do it to one of my dobes if I had the choice. I just don't see the point since I don't show conformation or anything like that.

    As far as asthetics go, I like both looks (floppy and upright) on dobermans, and I woldn't hesitate to adopt an adult with either ear style. HOWEVER, natural ears look way, way better than a bad crop. Anyone who is having a dog's ears cropped needs to go to a veterinarian with a lot of experience cropping ears for your particular breed. I've seen some butchered crop jobs that look absolutely awful and ridiculous.



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