Sunday, March 20, 2011

From shoes to boots in 10 days

I rode Moonie for the first time in two weeks on the weekend, and apparently both of us were grinning from ear to ear during that first ride on Saturday. The easycare boots arrived last week, and the new (secondhand) Barefoot London treeless saddle arrived a week earlier, so with equipment in hand, we were ready to go!

The difference in Moonie's movement was immediate and, well, brilliant! He moved like a young Moonie, not the stiff choppy pony-gaited horse he has been in the last few months. I noticed a difference in his movement immediately his shoes came off. Combine that with a saddle that seems to work for him (I am still dealing with it!! see pics) and I could barely sit his walk, and at the moment, his canter is too big for me to sit while I am adjusting to the saddle. His big trot is back, and I am struggling to sit his powerful working trot. All is one with the world again! I had forgotten how much movement the back and hips have to absorb when riding a horse that is truly using itself.

So, to back track. After his trim we did this:

using Keratex Hoof Soaker stuff.

And then, because he was a little sore, stepping short and not wanting to move much, we did this:

We kept the pads on his fronts only for 36 hours, then a day and a half bare, and then another 36 hours padded. This got him through the first week post trim. After that, he seemed fine. The thrush kill process has been kept up, using Keratex disinfectant. As that has really seemed to knock the worst of the thrush off, I'll swap to copper sulphate & apple cider vinegar every second day until the thrush has left town for good.

Here's a tip with the Easycare Epics: play around with the wiring set up to get the boot snug as. Moonie twists his hinds a little, and his offside hooves are a different shape (and size) to his near side hooves. His first trip around the place with the boots, and the offs were twisting. A bit of a tweak and play around, and they are better. I also opted for some pad inserts when ordering the boots. I think these will also be necessary to stabilise the off side boots. Again, it's just a matter of trial and error.

And a comment on the Barefoot London. It's lovely and soft, but sits on the horse "wide" ie there is a lot of leather/saddle under my leg. You can see how far down my legs the flaps come, and combine that with no twist at all (ie my legs stick out sideways to get around Moonie's barrel), and an 18" seat (that was the payback on getting a good buy on a second hander), I am struggling to find my seat, and place my leg correctly under my hip, let alone use my leg lightly with effect. It will come, but something to be mindful when transitioning from a commercial treed saddle (designed for riders, not horses) to a treeless saddle.

Yesterday's day 2 ride:

How wide can my  hips go?

A little bit sideways

Stretching out

Round on round

Looking like a cowpony, swinging out.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

These boots were made for...

We ordered Moonie's new boots today, with a big THANK YOU to Mike Ware of Easycare Downunder for his advice via email and phone. I have dealt with Easycare Downunder previously, and the support/advice and ease of dealing with them has always been excellent.

Anyway, it will take a few days for the Moonstar's new boots to arrive, so in the interim, to keep his feet happy, which then keeps his gut happy, and his soul happy, his feet had been padded up, using EVA100 rubber and heavy duty duct tape. While he walks around just fine without the pads, once they are on, his movement improves significantly. Even better than when shod (on grass that is). Which goes to show how much we take for granted ie what I was used to in terms of Moonie's regular walk with shoes, was not actually his best walk. His best walk comes unshod, barefoot trimmed, padded.

His treeless saddle arrived on Friday, complete with saddle pads and inserts. It will take some tweaking to get the pads right for his particular needs, but I am confident he will do well with the new set up. I won't ride him until his feet are protected enough to keep him comfortable under saddle. The arena is deep shavings, but I am keen to look after his feet while they grow and transition from shod to bare.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Where Moonie Loses a Shoe - Forever

Yesterday Moonie's shoes came off. And they are not going back on again.

He has been shod for 3/4 of his life (rough estimate) with some time off during non-riding times. Late last year I  was surprised to see (with new barefoot eyes) at how contracted his feet seemed. Not only were the heels contracted, as one would expect, but I am sure they used to be bigger. He'd had a rough year with his feet obviously, with some large cracks the length of the wall, had some very obvious thrush going on, and, well,  they just didn't "look" right. At that stage, he was not mine, so I left it alone, but really really wanted to take his shoes off and let his feet breath.

So now he is mine, I can take his shoes off, and support him through his transition to barefoot. And yesterday was Day 1.

Here are his feet just before the shoes came off, six weeks after being shod for the last time:

Above: Near fore

Above: hinds ready for shoe removal

When his shoes came off, Jade the Trimmer and I got one hell of a shock: a drastically separated white line on all four feet, medially  3-5 o'clock, lowered soles, and LOTS of thrush. As the shoes came off, the rush of thrush odour was strong.

Shoe off, off fore
Trim in process off fore

Solar view OF trimmed. Check out the black bits and the thin walls    
Trimming  offhind

It's interesting to see how much a shoe hides, including correct foot balance, as well as pathologies.

Moonie's initial reaction to the new trim was to really "feel" his feet, and then spring his way back to his paddock as though he had new feet. As predicted, he is very tender today. I'm not surprised, as this is a horse that cannot walk comfortably on gravel when shod. This afternoon, his feet will be soaked in keratex, and foam padding gaffa taped to his sole so he can move comfortably, and keep the blood flowing through his feet. Boots are being ordered as I type.
Apart from improving the overall health of his feet (which ties in with his gut health, Cushings and IR) we are working towards lifting his soles back into a lovely arch, where they should be (and haven't been for well over a decade at least), and growing his heel out properly again. Slowly, with a new treeless saddle, barefoot hooves, herbal support combined with solid weight management, Moonie is turning into a treehugging hipster! Stay tuned for his progress.....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another gratuitous photo post

This photo is blurry but I don't care. I love the focus and intent in Moonie's walk. Check out the loop in the line - can't get much lighter than that! Last night we did some pole work, as I have been under the weather and not riding. Time to get the pony's back moving and lifting! One of the effects of Cushings is loss of topline, so I am plan to circumvent that with regular exercise that encourages good use of Moonie's back muscles and his hindquarter. He used to have terrific gaskin development. That has now faded (a bit like my cycling quads at the moment). If they don't get used, they get lost! So he is walked and trotted over pole sequences, logs, 12-18inch jumps, wide planks, caveletti. You can see, he really gets into it.