With Uno out of the picture for real riding for a while (his ultrasound results show a suspensory ligament injury which is going to require about six months of rehab to fix – so I have lots of hand-walking in my future), I turned my attentions to Roo.

Roo, realising the imminent possibility of having to actually work for a living, promptly stuck his leg in something in the paddock in order to produce a fat, scraped leg. No riding for him for a couple of weeks. Hum.

So I turned my attentions to Jackit, my Section B welsh pony. You may remember that Jackit was started last summer (see October 2010 blog entry), had the winter completely off (I wasn’t keen on slipping around in the mud on a greenie) and hadn’t been saddled since November. This week he got put back into work. I was a little leery to start with, not being sure what he’d do or how he’d react, but he performed flawlessly all week, acting like a grown-up and winning praise all around for his level-headed approach to life.

Jackit back under saddle after an 8 month hiatus

In fact, he did so well that by the end of the week he and I went on our first solo outing on the trail, ambling two and half miles along rolling oak-studded grassland, exposing ourselves to barking dogs, other horses, leaping turkeys, horse flies, mucky creek crossings and tree stumps. All of which he took in stride with interest but lack of alarm. To say I’m proud of my Small Thing would be a gross understatement.

First solo trail ride - and I'm comfortable enough to take photos.

Most of the work we did earlier in the week was on my gravel pad out back. The gravel is large, sharp and pokey – and Jackit was telling me he wasn’t particularly comfortable. On the second day, I gave him a light trim, and interestingly, he was slightly less ouchy than before the trim – but still flinching if he stepped in the wrong place.

I got out a transparent plastic ruler and spent a happy 30 minutes in the paddock with him loose – trying to measure a foot, write down the number, and then chase him down for the next measurement. He thought it was most amusing, even when I felt the need to thwack his departing bottom with my ruler. Eventually I got him measured and was interested to note how similar the measurements were to the ones taken eight months ago. Evidently his feet are fairly static.

The perfect size

A fit kit will be ordered soon to find out which size boot best suits him – his feet still don’t fall into any sensible range – but in the meantime I’m vascillating between what to do. At present we are only walking and are unlikely to be going further than a few miles at a time. Under that workload, wear on his feet isn’t going to overtake hoof growth, so I’ve no worries on that count. In theory, the more I ride him on rough footing, the stronger his feet will become and the more comfortable he’ll be – but I don’t want him to get sour from sore feet. It’s a chicken and egg situation. What I’ll probably resort to is something I did with Uno in the early days of barefoot transitioning – alternate between putting him in a pair of front or back boots to give him some relief. But first he’ll need boots, right? Get ordering, Lucy.