This time of year, mixed in with all of the holiday busyness, I found myself thinking again of how it is that all the little things add up to the bigger thing. It’s the card from an old friend you haven’t seen in years, the smile at unwrapping a sentimental ornament filled with memories, the kindness of a stranger donating their time to those less fortunate. In the hoof care world, it can make my day to receive a simple but happy update on a client horse. It can make the long, back breaking days feel fulfilling and worthwhile.
A horse’s hooves are very often the same. While you have your occasional giant trim on an overdue horse that is seemingly instantly restored to a thing of beauty, more often there are the slow, small tweaks that build to the bigger change over time.
Even though before and after photos showing dramatic changes are always fun to share, it’s the in-between stages of how we got there, taking it slow, being aware of the little things that are more fulfilling.
Here’s a perfect example. We were asked by good long-time clients to take on their new reining horse, a young QH gelding. His owner wanted to continue working on him, taking lessons, etc. while we set out to address his long toes and underrun, contracted heels.
We’ve made little changes over the last 6 months, which have added up to the overall healthier hoof we have at the moment, along with achieving our overlying goal of continued soundness. The initial changes we made were bringing the toes back, but not lowering vertical height until we had achieved some improvement in sole depth, and shortening the breakover, which improved the leverage on the heels while keeping him comfortable to do his job.
Next, we started lowering the toes, just a couple of rasp strokes, to take pressure off the heel, which allows it to come up a bit more. When the owner takes his horse on a trail ride, he takes the time to boot him in Easyboot Gloves. This little step adds up quickly because it ensures there is no unwanted wear to the feet, and it ensures that there is no compensative movement like a toe first landing, that might derail our progress with the heels.
I wouldn’t say the feet are ‘fixed’ yet, but they are much better, and going in that direction we’re always striving for, one of positive change. We plan on continuing to work on these areas, looking for ways to improve as well as maintain the good foot we have gained.
What little, positive changes can you make? Could your horse benefit from a bit shorter toe, or a lower sugar treat this year? Maybe an extra 10 minutes working up a little sweat during exercise? A new pair of boots to help them move happily over the frozen or rocky ground?
With all that we have on our plates these days, especially during the holidays, it is comforting to know that our horses just need the little things from us. They live in the moment, they are present for us. Maybe we can have our present to them be our promise to work towards positive change. One little step at a time.