Horse life is still quiet at our house with the pones enjoying their winter sabbatical. The beauty of having them all barefoot, of course, is that when I get around to deciding it’s time to break out of hibernation and start riding again, all I need to do is trim, apply boots (or not, depending on the terrain), and go – none of this scheduling a shoer to come and work on them, waiting for him to be available, followed by either changing my mind and wanting to ride the horse that wasn’t shod, or feeling guilty because I got sidetracked and didn’t ride after all, thereby wasting $100+ in shoeing.

We’re getting ready for our annual winter trip to the desert – taking Fergus and Small Thing down to Southern California to get out of the mud and enjoy the longest break of the year.

2011 – Fergus scaling the mountains of Southern California.

At a time when most people are consumed with Holiday activity – gift wrapping, feast cooking, etc – I’m trying to figure out how much hay Fergus and Small Thing will eat, what blankets to take, if I have the right sized boots for each pone, and have I emptied the portapotty?

Taking the pones to the desert is good for their feet in so many ways. The current mud pit they are living in isn’t exactly conducive to moving around much. So we will begin our trip with an overnight stop-over at a fairgrounds and let them run around before continuing the journey. Here’s video from last year’s leg-stretching exercise – big fun.

2011 – Small Thing and Fergus enjoying the non-muddy footing at the fairgrounds. First time they’d been able to run around in weeks.

Once we get there, I can actually see their feet (instead of just looking at mud blobs) and give them a suitable trim as needed. My trimming kit consists of the hoof stand and a bucket o’ tools:

The sandy terrain will typically abrade their feet into great shape. Riding them on this footing means we don’t necessarily need to boot, although there are quite a few fun technical trails with good quantities of rock, so we pick and choose as necessary – and can always carry boots just in case. I’m planning on taking Small Thing’s Back Countries and his Gloves, to see which, if any, I prefer in this type of footing.

Lastly, their feet get a chance to dry out, get rid of any lingering thrush from the soggy conditions at home, and get a really good work out.

Small Thing in Baby Jesus mode, enjoying the sunshine and the dry warm sand.

May you all have contented winter breaks and enjoy your furry friends.

Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California