There are two ways to look at things- you know, the whole glass half-full, glass half-empty saying. While I try to look at things in a positive manner, sometimes I find myself focusing on the negative and dismissing any silver lining as tarnished. I recently caught an early case of the winter blues, and even more quickly decided I was going to be miserable if I let them take hold *this early* in the winter!! Truthfully I think part of my “blahs” could be attributed to the huge bang I ended my endurance season with, and much like “post-marathon depression,” I was feeling it. I am a very goal-oriented person and while I had some thoughts and plans for the winter, I needed to put some goals into place. I urge you to do the same, and please share!!

Topper looking lovely in his gorgeous summer coat. Said coat is now long-gone and covered snugly in his winter blankie. 

I decided my first priority this winter is working with Topper, who I posted about here. Topper is now four and a half. I purchased him in July of 2009 as a young three-year-old, and have been battling a strong flight response and a flared quarter on the right front foot since. Having three horses going might not be much for some people, but for myself, it has been difficult, and Topper has continually been put on the back burner, which is fine given his age. Giving Replika the winter off is the right decision, and that frees up “Spot #1” for The Topster. Not only am I going to be working on his foot with my hands and tools, I am going to be working on lateral work and gymnastics to improve and equalize strength in case there is something further up in the body that is causing or exacerbating the flare. We will also be trail riding regularly and working on exposing him to new things. Ahhhh the joys of bringing up baby….

I know I showed this before, but I still can’t believe I brought this horse home with feet like that!! August 2009

One year later.

My next major is goal is to get Khopy’s feet perfect! They have come so far. The more you watch horses move, the more educated your eye becomes, and the more obsessive you can be. Yay for me 😉 I am working very hard on balancing him, and will be getting radiographs done in the very near future to check my work.

Khopy when I first looked at him to buy. I knew we could balance him up in no time! January 2010.

July 2010.

Those of us who use natural hoof trimming are extremely lucky. Our horses’ bare feet (and yes, I do believe my horses are barefoot despite the fact I use Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons for competition and long training rides) show us so much more than what is happening near the ground. Much like the cheesy phrase, “The eyes are the window to the soul,” the hooves are the window to the horse. We can observe and adjust conformational anomalies, loading and breakover patterns and possible lamenesses, some even before they fully manifest. The other brilliant aspect of barefoot trimming is that the horse is free to adjust the trim as needed. Nature at its best! If you shoe an unbalanced foot, the hoof remains unbalanced throughout the entire shoeing cycle of six to eight weeks- the horse is not able to wear off the imbalance as though they would if left barefoot. I shudder to think of what would become of Topper’s tendency to flare if shod, or even Khopy and Replika’s propensity to have a higher and lower angle on the fronts, which is totally normal and 100% manageable with regular trimming. I remember admiring my horses freshly shod hooves, before I knew any better, and also remember thinking about how poor their feet looked four or five weeks later. If you’re on the fence about pulling shoes, observe carefully, and even take pictures every two weeks. Careful though, you could become one of the “barefoot crazies!”

So.. point of this looooong-winded point is to use the winter to your advantage! I think we get so caught up in the moment, the season, the game, that we forget to slow down and look at the bigger picture. I am using this down-time to re-paint my big picture. While slowing down isn’t appealing to some (myself included), I am going to enjoy the slower pace, bond with my youngsters and use the dark, cold nights to read and learn even more about natural horse care and barefoot trimming. We just won’t tell the natural horse-care Gods that my guys are snug in their Rambos and hanging around the feed tubs like welfare ponies, instead of foraging for their dinner 🙂

Make some goals!

~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho