This spring I’m concentrating on getting my two greenies going – Small Thing and Hopi. Despite the normal soggy spring feet, Small Thing has become fairly comfortable without boots and I am now able to ride him barefoot most places without too much short-striding. Hopi, on the other hand, can be ouchy and his normal long-walk can become very mincy.

Of course this weekend when I rode, Small Thing was mincy in places, while Hopi never took a false step. Go figure.

Enjoying Hopi in the sunshine

Hopi enjoying the sunshine in February. You need good feet to propel the plump body uphill. …Uh, his plump body, that is, not mine.

In the perfect world, I would boot them. In the perfect world, I would also have a groom to clean the mud off their plump bodies and chisel the concrete mud off their hooves, then spend several hours removing the dingleballs off the back of their pasterns.

Unfortunately I don’t live in the perfect world, so lacking time I’m reduced to not booting and avoiding trails that are too rocky, and getting off and walking when we do encounter them. Not an ideal situation, but this too shall pass.

A selection of feet from Paddock A

A selection of feet from Paddock A.

I carry the boots with me in the pommel bag, in the hope that we will go through enough creeks that their feet will become miraculously clean and their pasterns will shed the mud, and voila, I will hop off and easily pop the boots on their feet.

To date, the boots have remained in the pommel bag.

Small Thing at the top of the powerlines - my local "training hill"

Small Thing at the top of the powerlines – our local training hill.

Eventually I’m going to have to give in and do something about this. Small Thing is due to try his first 30-mile ride in March and I want to boot him for that – he needs practice in his boots to develop the necessary callousing around his pasterns to avoid rubs, instead of putting them on the day of the ride and expecting them to be fine.

Fetlock decorations

Hopi demonstrating the ornamental dingleballs firmly attached to his rear fetlocks.

To this end, I need to break out the toilet brush—that fine implement for lower leg cleaning and having nothing whatsoever to do with toilets—and spend some quality time squatting next to the horse, hosing and scrubbing at length. And I might have to bring the scissors along to cut off the dingleballs as they are impossible to remove with finger encouragement.

Hoof/lower leg cleaning implement

Once (if?) the lower legs and feet become fluffy and clean, I plan on spritzing liberally with silicon spray in the hope that this will cause the mud to magically shed off their legs with a light flourish of a brush next time I want to boot.

I have yet to do any of these things.

In the meantime, I try to look away.

Anyone got any tips on how to deal with concrete mud?

Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California