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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Are you feeling footy?

The grass is growing faster than the girls can scoff it, even though we have really restricted their grazing area. As yet it is too wet to fully implement their summer track, but it won't be long.

We were concerned the sugar in the grass might start to show as footiness, especially in Madam. But so far, judging by performance they are ok.

I took them out ride and lead today and headed for a bit of gravel track. Madam kept offering trot even on the really horrible bits. Then she jumped a line of bricks set into the ground. I guess her feet are feeling ok.

We were worried that they would bicker during the ride and lead, but bar a bit of 'competitive trotting' so far its been ok. They seem to realise that it is really important that they behave and they rise to the challenge beautifully.

Contracted heels and the smell of socks

Here are Pickles, the Grey Mare's feet; LF, RF, LH, RH. You can see how awful her frogs are in front. But believe me this is the improved version and they are still a work in progress.
Her heels got very contracted and who can say why, because bar two or three sets of shoes she has always been barefoot. It may have been because my farrier was advised to leave her heels longer, or because her suspensory injuries made it too painful to put her heels down.
She is currently more or less heel first landing, she doesn't have classic thrush, there is no discharge or black goo and no real smell, apart from the faintest whiff of socks. I have tried the usual range of potions, recommended and otherwise. To date we seem to be making the best progress with an OTC athletes foot spray. Certainly in the past 5 days that I have been using it there has been a noticeable firming up and improvement in consistency of the frogs and the deep crevices seem to be filling in rather than eroding. I will continue to take photos and if I get any really good ones I will post them for comparison.

Strong personalities

When I was growing up the aim was always to be good enough as a rider to be able to get the best out of any horse. Nothing was too much of a challenge and if at first you didn't succeed you just had more lessons and kept trying. And if you fell off you were embarrassed at your incompetence and you just got back on.

Now it seems to be that horses are expected to be automatons. Quiet at all times no matter what the duress and if anything doesn't run to plan it must be their fault and they either get sent to a 'trainer' or the sale yard. Wny is this? And where is the fun? Why not just get a motorbike or a mobility scooter!
I like horses with personality and preferably a bit of 'sass'. Madam is perfect in this respect. She is a kind, sweet and very genuine horse, but she is nobodys fool and she takes a keen interest in everything. This picture is her supervising me making the feeds last night. You will see she is already in her fly rug.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Madam goes jumpies

Well what an exciting weekend. Madam took her Mum jumpies on Saturday. Nothing dramatic, just a couple of clear round jumping turns over a baby course. But it was a first for both of them so imagine how pleased they were to come home with their first rosette.

We celebrated with a bit of canter interval training on the South Downs afterwards.

Sunday was equally dramatic when Madam decided to do a stunning jump off a bank and over a ditch. Sally decided she preferred to view the proceedings from the ditch..... But after a cup of tea both were declared ok - although Sally now has a stunning bruise about the same size as her rosette.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Madam's feet February 2009

Madam's feet today. LF, RF, LH, RH. I am trying to figure out what is going on.

Each foot is changing shape in its own way. The two hinds are very flat and have some bruising. Three appear to be thinking about shedding sole, but I'm not sure. The white lines look ok to me, especially considering the flare she used to have and how sugar sensitive she can be. I'm a bit worried about the very flat LH - it offers little traction and last year she had a bad slip and hurt herself.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snow ponies

One of the many advantages of barefoot, is that the horses don't have a problem with snow balling in their feet. In fact, quite the reverse, the snow drops out in nice neat 'patties' or casts and gives a great impression of the soles of their feet. Plus the soles are super clean so you can get a really good look at them.
The girls loved the snow and for the first few days found it terribly exciting. But they did get a bit bored after a few days as we couldn't get out much. Barefoots travel well in snow, but our exercise always involves some hefty road work and I didn't want to find ourselves dodging out of control cars and lorries.
They are wearing rugs in these pictures. Usually they are unrugged in all but the worst rain, but they went away over Christmas/January and came back rugged, so it took a couple of weeks to re-aclimatise them. The Grey is now happily 'naked' again and looking better for it. Madam is in her anti fly rug as the poo flies seem to survive no matter what the weather.

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Southern England, United Kingdom