Charm School

A few weeks ago I loaded up the new pony, Charmy-Schmarmy, and took him to kindergarten. Not only is this a huge step for him, it's a huge step for myself- an obsessive-compulsive, worrying control-freak of a person. Was he ready? Was the trainer really that good? What if he didn't recognize a potential little sign of not-quite-rightness and a horrible injury ensues? What if they don't notice he isn't eating well and he colics? What is he ties-up after a few days off? And my main concern- what if Charm's bare feet can't handle training on the trails without the protection that horse trainers in this area seem to be completely adverse to using (unless, of course, the protection is nailed-on steel). Clearly I am a freak, but we already knew this.  

Of course I'm being a bit dramatic here. But, as this was to be the first time I've ever sent a horse off to training, I was understandably a bit worried. However, I checked out this trainer thoroughly including riding three horses that he had put thirty days on and was very pleased. The owner of the facility happens to be Charm's breeder, which is why I felt confident leaving him there. I was, however, not kidding when I say I was concerned about the potential for Charm getting sore feet. After three rides in the round pen, my baby pony was ready for the trails. One of the other main reasons I decided to send him to this trainer was due to the fact he does most of his riding on the trails from the facility, which are mostly good footing but can be pretty hard with some rock. I didn't want to pay for someone to ride the kid in the arena, I wanted him out on the trails so he's ready to go when I got him home!! Woo-hoo! This training thing is a pretty sweet deal!

Charm

After two weeks, we went to see Charm being ridden and check out his feet. He went so well in the round pen that I just HAD to get on him. No, I didn't have my helmet, and yes, I know how risky it is to ride without one, but did it anyway. What a cool little horse this is going to be! I made my ride short and sweet, just getting on, walking around each direction along with a few halts and some moving off the leg. He's going great and from what I understand keeps getting better and better. So far his feet are doing well, although I will be going back out tomorrow and checking them further. We have had a ton of rain and he is in a bedded stall so the ground is soft and wet and his feet are staying dry. As he only has four weeks left (trainer takes six weeks to put on thirty days) I would be safe to glue-on boots if necessary, although I don't think it will be a problem. 

charm

What have you done with your barefoot horses while sending them to training? Of course when I mentioned I could leave his boots with him, the trainer wanted to know why I was "opposed" to nail-on shoes. I can understand why a trainer wouldn't want to mess with a bunch of booted horses, but felt a little backed into a corner. 

Turns out Charm's feet did get sore, about five weeks into his training. It worked out in my favor that during his weekend off, it rained so the ground got wet again, but I did end up bringing him home a few days early. I think the ideal situation would have been to glue on boots for the last two weeks, but of course that is all hindsight. 

What I brought home was a well-started horse who enjoyed a few weeks off while I was riding the others. I pulled him out for the first time on Sunday, which was three weeks after he came home. I hadn't done much with him since bringing him home, so was pleasantly surprised when I got on (and he stood still!!) and then left the ranch with a forward, ground-covering walk. He was comfortable barefoot, and I plan to ride him primarily barefoot this summer as we'll be taking it super slow. I snapped a few pictures of his feet when we got back from our five mile jaunt. He is in need of a trim now, which is good because he was pretty dang short when I brought him home. Can you believe the difference in these feet?!?!

Remember these pictures from his pre-purchase exam? YIKES!

left hind

Both hind feet


right hind


left front

Front feet shots, mid-trim.


right front before

And now we have some nice feet!! His front feet are in serious need of a trim, but I am pleased with the way they are growing. He appears to wear fairly evenly, despite breaking over a bit to the outside. His back feet are self-trimming and wearing well. What a change in those back feet, eh? 

hind now

Hind foot #1
and

hind now

Hind foot #2. Much better!

Front feet-

front

And check out the nutrition line..

front

All in all I am pretty pleased with the new addition. Hope to be out on the trail with him in full force very soon! 

charm


Until next time!
~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho



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