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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Experiment with flooring

Our land is rented and is in a heavily regulated area. So a 'proper' gravel, hard core etc track is out. But I do want to do some passive conditioning with the girls if I can. So we are having a go at solving two problems at once. The other problem is the field shelter's dirt floor is permanently sodden.

This is Madam trying out the new ballast floor (mix of sand and shingle). She looks happy enough, but then she will always pose for a camera.

OH dug the dirt floor out, put a slope on it and lined it with a permeable membrane and put in a drain. The we put a ton of ballast on top. All hand barrowed by yours truly (who said barefoot was easy.......).

So far it is working well. The floor is no longer wet and the girls feet are benefiting from the passive conditioning. I was worried about it getting stinky, but we clean it out daily and if one of the girls pees on it we slosh it with dilute disinfectant.

And a big plus is our landlord has agreed to us doing a discrete area outside the field shelter too.

The downside is at the moment only one horse can be conditioned at a time, because Madam doesn't do sharing and even though the shelter is just about big enough for two, she won't let the Grey in.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Spot the difference?

These pictures were taken 29 days apart. The frogs look fairly terrible, but I think in the second picture the deep central cleft is filling in and looking rather less grotty? I have been using an OTC Athlete's Foot spray for two weeks and as everything else has remained the same it is probably safe to assume that the spray has made all the difference.

When I bring the horse in at night, I scrub the foot thoroughly with plain water, dry it with paper towels and then spray. The can says to use twice daily, but once seems to be working okay.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Sleeping is an important part of getting fit

The girls aren't working particularly hard, but they are being very careful to make sure they get enough sleep. The first two pictures show them having a post breakfast snooze - note how Madam is posing for the camera as usual. The last picture shows them just after an exercise session. Madam appears to be asleep on her feet!
They are currently working 5 days a week and are racking up about 25 miles a week, our target is to average 50-70 miles a week, so we have a way to go yet.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Bogeyman training

Madam takes a keen interest in everything, including having her photo taken. She learns really quickly and is very easy going which is just as well.

Today's exercise was meant to be a straightforward 5 mile walk on a simple, quiet, road circuit. We got past the various bright yellow tree cutting, ditch digging etc machines very well. And the chickens that exploded from the hedge.
But on the way home we were 'properly' attacked by a dog. We have spent a lot of time training the girls how to deal with the gobby 'all mouth no trousers' type and they are pretty good. But this one was seriously trying to sink its teeth into Madam's front legs. She was really good, she hopped up and down a bit trying to keep her legs out of the way and went backwards a little, but was really incredibly calm in the circumstances. And the dog just kept coming, in spite of the fact that it was risking getting squashed. I accidently dropped the Grey, who was brilliant, tucked herself out of the way and stood on command.
Eventually the owner dragged the dog away, I caught the Grey and we went on our way. But this was on a road, on a blind bend. How different if would have been if a) the girls had panicked b) a car had come round the corner. Unfortunately we know from experience about b) as this scenario is very similar to how the Grey got badly injured a few years ago.
We work hard to train the girls for all circumstances, I wish dog owners (and yes we have a dog) would do the same.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Aunty Beeb was right again

3pm today, it was warm enough for the Grey to fall asleep in the sun (if you squint you can see she isn't even tied up). Half an hour later and the field was blanketed with hail. We were out doing hill work, but scooted back before we all got too wet and cold. Then early to bed for the girls. OH was busy repairing the damage to the fencing wraught by last nights gales. The BBC weather forecast predicted a hail shower sometime between 3-7pm. Right again!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Does my bum look big in this?

I wasn't sure it was wise to take the girls out today. They had yesterday off and were feeling quite fresh. It was raining and quite windy but even so they were actually very well behaved. We passed a pub today - the first picture is them admiring themselves in the windows.

Before I caught them they both did their best to demonstrate how well they are feeling. Madam kicked so high she hit the tree branches (above her head in the second picture) with her hind legs. The third picture shows the 'lame' Grey giving Madam a run for her money. And yes they have trashed the grazing in that part of the paddock. This is the electric fence that Madam climbs through whenever the electric is off or the batteries run low.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Making strides

This is Madam's Mum riding her and leading the Grey. To me they look pretty happy. We never thought we'd see the day. In the field Madam can be pretty bossy and is quick to lift a leg at the Grey. She is even worse if you try and lead them in-hand together. But touch wood we seem to have got them working together like this. Although it doesn't work so well if you ride the Grey and lead Madam.

This weekend they did over 7 miles on roads and tracks on Saturday, to help wear their feet down and 6 miles on grass with canter intervals on Sunday to build their fitness. But Madam did the cantering without the Grey in tow. We ride the Grey whenever she is sound enough, but multiple injuries, not least coming worst off in an altercation with a car make it very tricky. However she stays sounder if we can keep her as fit as possible.

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Southern England, United Kingdom