"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Brillant man, brilliant advice. Although I *do* tend to be the Queen of procrastination, I find a way to prioritize the important things in life. Usually, they involve the horses ;-)
I am not a huge goal-setting person. Unlike other people who set goals and subsequently obsess about them, I like to reflect on past accopmlishments and look towards the future and think about what I would like to accomplish. I had an awesome year last year with the horses, and would love to have a repeat this year, but it's in my nature to think of ways to improve upon everything - good, bad and ugly. Last year I ignored the important process of conditioning my mare to use anything other than Easyboot Glue-Ons. While this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, I decided this year I didn't want to be chained to the glue-on process for single day 50's.
One thing I learned in the past, is with barefoot trimming, natural hoof care and using hoof boots, it is never too early to start! Last year, I glued on boots of all of Replika's rides. She is ridiculously thin-skinned, extremely prone to scratches and fussy about pressure on her heel bulbs. Given these issues, it would be easy to say she's just not able to tolerate boots with gaiters, however, that is just not the case. What's important here is to properly condition her to work with the boots. This year, I set out to start early. I wasn't about to wait until it was too late.
Rep sporting a full set of Gloves.
It's a fine line between riding barefoot to toughen up the sole and riding in boots enough to develop a tolerance to them. Last winter, I did all of our rides barefoot. Due to the footing and her poor hoof health, I felt like it was most beneficial to her to do as much as she could tolerate barefoot, and this paid off very, very much. However, this year, I want to do single-day 50's in Gloves. I love, love, LOVE the Gloves and the ease of application and removal, as well as the protection they offer is by far the best (for me). However, I haven't ridden Replika much in a set of Gloves and in the past when I have, we have had minor stocking up and irritation of the skin.
So. I set out to do something different this winter. While I still believe it is extremely important to ride a "barefoot" horse barefoot, I realized, at least with her, that I must really spend the time conditioning her to the gaiters if I want to be able to do endurance rides with them. I compromised, and so far it seems to be working well. I have been killing two birds with one stone by ponying the new kid off Replika. On these baby-pony-rides, I have been keeping her barefoot. On our longer conditioning rides I have been riding her in a full set of Gloves. Considering the fact it is winter and our riding from home has been limited to about ten miles, it has been a perfect start to the year. As we start getting nicer weather (please, God??), our milage will start increasing slowly. Obviously this is the ideal way to condition your horse to anything new, and something to consider as the end of winter nears.
What are your boots plans for the year? Have you had any trouble with your horses tolerating any of the boots or gaiters? I have found the new Glove gaiters to be virtually non-chafing on any other horse. Of course the thin-skinned redhead continues to try my patience by making everything difficult, but she is 100% worth it!
Looking forward to the new season,
~ Amanda Washington