the power of duct tape

From beat-up old spare Renegade to improvised hoof-soaking boot.

Bonus points for coordinating duct tape?

Soaked hooves = easier trimming, which leads to much happiness on the part of both me and the pony.

apply, fill with water, install pony in front of
hay bag, trim.

It’s not perfect, or completely water-tight, but it did the job well enough to soften her hooves a bit and make for easier, faster trimming.

Never Too Old…

…to be a brat. Mimi’s 19th birthday is coming up on Saturday, and she’s still finding ways to try my patience. This morning, she didn’t want to work. She wanted breakfast. We currently have access to the vacant property next door…it’s basically 4 acres of fenced dirt lot. Because riding in the actual arena would have meant shooing all 10 of the other horses back out to the pasture (always a fun trick), I decided to just ride next door. Pretty fun, because it’s a ton of space, and pretty good footing…if you mind the gopher holes.

But Mimi decided that today, she just didn’t feel like listening to my legs. I’ve been making a concerted effort to retrain myself to stay out of her mouth (I have a horrible habit of grabby hands and a distinct lack of release) and force myself to rely on leg and seat cues more. It’s a tough thing to do when your pony is conspiring against your best efforts. She did a fabulous “I’m ignoring you” impression as I asked her to circle away from the pasture gate…she curved away, but still managed to keep moving towards the gate.

Wrong answer, pony.

She got thumped on the side with my whole leg for her efforts.

That actually woke her up, and it only took one more decent thump (coupled with some disciplinary “eh-eh” noises and a couple cuss words) to get her actually paying attention to me. Me, unconventional trainer? Yeah, maybe.

And then we proceeded to have a pretty good workout. I kept it shorter today…I feel really bad because I was a bit too overenthusiastic in my last trim job on her…I had let her toes get way too long, so proceeded to do something of a remedial Big Trim on her.

Sometimes I think I’ve learned nothing in the two years I’ve been trimming.

So she was pretty sore for a few days afterwards.

I put her boots on today to make sure she was comfortable enough while riding, and that worked great at the walk and trot…but she was still a bit ouchy to canter. Considering her canter is sub-optimal on her best days, we didn’t pursue it today. No sense in asking for trouble and discomfort.

Some days I feel like such a bad horse mommy. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, been overly enthusiastic in my trimming to the point of making her a bit sore. I guess it’s all part of the trimming learning curve, and I’m probably taking longer to get it because I just don’t trim enough horses to get comfortably schooled in it.

But considering it’s now officially summer here, spending the heat of the day bent in half wedged under a horse just doesn’t sound like a whole ton of fun…

Procrastinators R Us

It’s February, and I just got around to taking down the Christmas lights.  I mean, just, as in, ten minutes ago.

I tend to procrastinate.  A bit.

It sometimes carries over to my hoof trimming duties.  In a perfect world, I trim Mimi every 2-3 weeks.  That way, I don’t have to ever take off too much at one time.

But sometimes, it gets pushed out to four weeks.

And then I have to deal with this:

Ack…toes.  And Pony Heels.  Front hoof.

On the surface, they’re not too bad.  Underneath?  Ew.  Winter Feet.

Hind hooves.  More heels.  Not seen is the side flare.

Ever seen the movie, “The Neverending Story”Great movie if you like fairy tales.  Which I do.  But I digress.  The point of that is that keeping up on Mimi’s heels is my own personal Neverending Story.  Just when I get it under control, it starts all over again…

And she still has a weird growth line on the right side, just in front of her heel area, where she blew out that abscess.  Y’know, a year and half ago.

Deep frog clefts, made all the worse because it’s really difficult to get in there and trim down her bars, even with my handy little bonsai trimmers.  Part of me has become compulsive about wanting to get all that crap outta there, since I don’t want a repeat of the abscess incident, which I suspect was caused by something getting up under those bars.

White line.  We have separation.  Part of that is coming from the fact that she lives in a stall for part of the day and enjoys walking through her pee spots.

Bit I think a lot of what I’m seeing is the post-vaccine detritus that comes out in their hooves.  Shots given in late October…about three months later…yup, that’s probably the worst of the post-vaccine natural reaction finally growing out.  But that’s worthy of an entirely separate blog post and why I reluctantly given only the very necessary vaccines these days.

But after I got off my procrastinating duff, we got this:

Fronts.  Toes seriously dubbed back.  Heels lowered.  A bit too
low, since she was a little ouchy.  Impatience + procrastination
don’t make good trimming buddies.

Right front.  White line tighter.  Little less stuff crammed in there.
Ignore the weird chunks out of her frog.  My bonsai nippers are
like mini half-rounds and nip out little half-moon chunks.

Hinds.  Not as dramatic, unless you look from the front, where
it is Flare-B-Gone.

Only negative was, as I said, she did get a bit ouchy in the following days.  Which makes me feel bad, even if I know she’s a bit of a pain-wimp.  It is my first time making her ouchy in the two and half years I’ve been trimming her, so I guess that’s something.  And with our concrete-hard winter pasture right now, it’s understandable why she might be feeling all the little rocks and pebbles.

The Princess and the Pea”, anyone???

Pony Pedicures

I have to say, I’m completely tickled about doing my own hoof trimming.  It’s been a little over a year now since we started doing our own trimming entirely, and I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from having horses that aren’t at all sensitive, and have even been able to start doing some training rides entirely barefoot.

With not riding much this summer, their hooves haven’t needed as much regular work.  About six weeks ago, we took the plunge into getting our first set of proper hoof nippers to make the times we were trimming much, much easier.  (Try trimming hooves in the summer in the desert…you’ll understand.)  That, combined with a brand-new SaveEdge rasp, have made my trimming life so. much. easier

It’s been about three weeks since their last trim, and they had some hoof that needed to come off today.  Especially Mimi.  Her high pony heels were getting a bit ridiculous.  It’s an ongoing battle, one I can never really let up on, to keep her heels where they should be.

Beamer’s feet look awesome right now.  He’s been needing to shed some sole out for the last month, but like a good girl, I’ve left it alone until it was ready to come out on its own.  The past week of rain and humidity did the trick, and when I picked out his hooves today, large amounts of dead sole flaked out without any extra encouragement.  Beautiful, fresh sole underneath…perfect!  Toe callus still intact and not going anywhere…also perfect!  He needed some sidewall taken down, and his toes trimmed back. 

One of these days, I will remember to bring a camera down to the barn again and get some updated pictures of their hooves.  I’m beyond thrilled with how they look, even if we’re not riding that much at the moment.  *sigh*  Still battling Beamer’s face wound, although his shoulder is looking really good…almost healed…maybe another week and that will be good to go.  Really, really hoping to get out and ride next weekend.

I’m on break from school for the next three weeks, and will be using that time to at least do some hated arena work with Mimi.  Although I just discovered today that her little pea-head is even tinier than I imagined, and that I actually need to get her a new bit if I want to do any proper schooling…all the bits I own are about 1/2″ too big.  Only took me 13 years to figure that one out…*eye roll*  Unfortunately, 4-1/2″ Myler bits aren’t all that easy to come by…I’ll be on the eBay prowl for one of those now.

Nine weeks until Man Against Horse in October…at this point, I’m making no hard-and-fast plans of going.  That way, if I do happen to get to go, it’ll be a pleasant surprise, instead of crushing disappointment.  Can’t have plans go awry if you don’t make them.

That said, I really only have seven weeks to get ready, since I’ll be on vacation for one weekend, and crewing at Sonoita for another.  If I take some time to do arena riding during the week, plus riding on the weekends, I think Mimi would be ready…just in case I do get to go.  *fingers crossed, but not holding my breath*

Steps in the right direction

Success! Today, for the first time ever, we were able to do a proper training ride going barefoot in the back! 9 miles, walking and trotting, only having to slow down over the worst of the rocky sections. Apparently the combination of using Renegades and doing my own trimming in between farrier visits is working.

In the past, the most I’ve managed is a couple miles before Mimi started acting flinchy. Today, she didn’t flinch once, and did a great job of maneuvering around the rocky sections of trail. If I can start going bare in the back for rides at the San Tans, that’ll really extend the life of my boots even more.

It was also trimming day after riding, so Mimi’s feet are nice and pretty again. She only got one tiny chip on her hind feet from going bare today, which was excellent.

It was hot, hot, hot both days this weekend, which was excellent for heat conditioning. Fortunately, there was a very nice breeze yesterday. Today was warmer, but I wore the CoolMedics vest and that made it a lot more bearable. Yesterday was an excellent ride. We did the 14 mile big training loop in just over 2 hours, doing a nice trot for a good part of the way. Some of the time, Mimi was happy to do her relaxed, 6.5-7mph “100-miler trot” and then other times she was much more eager to move out at her 9-10mph “power trot.” She’s feeling so good right now, which is encouraging and motivating enough to really keep up a religious training schedule during the brutal summer temperatures.