Monday, March 18, 2013

Steep hills and barefoot

Something happened to my farrier. He disappeared. I'm not sure what happened, or if he got hurt, or what. But after two weeks I realized I needed to get someone else out to see Lily.

Since we have been trying to get her sound, I was nervous. I didn't want to go back to someone who might take her back down a bad road. So I took a leap. I contacted a barefoot trimmer.

Lily has never been barefoot on the front, she has always seemed too ouchy. But this is a good time to try. I don't have a lot of time to ride, so she'd have time to toughen up. And it didn't make sense to me that she could be barefoot on the back, but not the front. I mean I know there is more weight in the front, but its not that light in the hind end either. Besides given I lost my farrier to the wind I felt it was time to try.

Lily has been barefoot for three weeks. Sunday we took a ride up the rocky ridge line.

No ouchy ness. Zero. She had beelined it up there. Something I've learned about Lily is she is very curious about her environment, she likes to explore more than I realized. When I looked at that ridge she headed right to it, as if she had been wondering what was up there too. We were riding alone, something we do often now, and she is continually expanding the rubber band of comfort. She's not very barn sour, but I do hesitate riding too far because I don't want to be alone in places I haven't ridden before. I guess I'm working on my rubber band too.

Then if course, we had to ride back down.

I usually don't like riding down steep inclines, but I got us into a narrow path where I couldn't dismount. So while it was not scene out of "Man from Snowy River," it was steep - way past my comfort zone.

But she was as sure footed as a goat, I could feel her confidence as she picked her way down. I don't know how to explain it without getting all "zen," as trailrider would say, but I sensed that she felt different about her steps, as if she could feel her way down differently than she had before.

And we did it bit less too.

It was a good ride after a very long and draining work time (job is great, no worries, just some tough things to work on). We both grew on that ride. The farrier/trimmer will be out to recheck her, and while she is still not sound at the clock wise trot, she is better. I wonder if this approach will give her relief.

I hope so. But if nothing else, we can walk up hillsides. And back down.


Dan and Betty said...

I'm not a barefoot fanatic - there may be legitimate times when horses need shoes. However, my experience is most horse owners underestimate their horses and how well they can do barefoot. I have ridden barefoot horses through the rockiest parts of the Canadian Rockies with no problems at all.


Anonymous said...

Glad she's doing so well barefoot - they can feel things through their feet much better than when they're shod. You must have a good trimmer - not one of those that thinks it's OK for horses to be sore after a trim.

There's a very interesting and good barefoot site that you might be interested - it's a rehab place in the UK called Rockley Farm - some very interesting stuff on biomechanics and nutrition.

Shirley said...

Glad that you had a good ride, and that your mare seems to be happy barefoot.

Susan said...

In my opinion, horses should go barefoot at least some of the time and more is better. Glad Lily is doing better and that you're enjoying your rides.

Wolfie said...

My horse has always been barefoot. I agree with Dan that there are some cases where a horse benefits from having shoes. I think it's great that Lily has not had any discomfort so far with her transition.

And, congratulations on your Man from Snowy River experience!! :-)

Paint Girl said...

I have to put shoes on my Paint during riding season, I tried barefoot and she just can't do it. She has really flat feet and weak soles. But she is barefoot in the winter (except this winter due to a fractured coffin bone). Thankfully my mustangs have super tough feet and will never need shoes.
Sounds like the new farrier is doing a good job!

Anonymous said...

It usually takes 2 or 3 trim cycles to transition completely, so you're doing really well. Yes, horses can feel the ground through their feet, and they feel more without shoes. It's really cool that she took to it so quickly.