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.
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.
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!
Both hind feet
Front feet shots, mid-trim.
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 foot #1
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!
Until next time!
~ Amanda Washington