Sunday, September 20, 2009

Trying New Things, Dogs With New Do's, Great Rides

First of all let me start by saying I love rain. I love being soaking wet every single day. I love handling hay when I'm soaking wet and therefore having little bits of hay stuck to me everywhere. I love putting plastic baggies in my rubber boots to keep my feet dry. I love it when my jeans are dripping wet and stuck to my legs. I especially love rain when my rain coat has holes in it. Sigh. It has rained at some point every single day for the last five days. And Mother Nature, with her sick sense of humor, has made sure that the rain happens to come at a time when I have to be out in it.

I have been drenched and soaking wet at least once a day, every day, for five days in a row. Wednesday was the worst I was soaking, sopping wet all day long. At some point each day I look like I just took a shower with all of my clothes on. It has been a nice warm rain though, temperatures in the low-mid 70's, and the horses are loving it. They are like pigs in mud, literally, and they look like it!

My farrier and I are trying something new with Sky. The vet who did her pre-purchase exam had told me that her toes were really long and needed to be addressed. Sure enough when she arrived she had super long toes. I think the best way to approach long toes (and honestly most hoof pathologies) are with bare hooves so they can both get natural wear and be trimmed more frequently. We pulled Sky's shoes about a week after she arrived. I was expecting her to have crumbly feet up to the nail holes but wasn't expecting anything more than that. Aside from the really long toes her feet looked nice, really wide heels, fat, healthy frogs, etc.

She was not sore when we pulled her shoes. Her feet did end up crumbling to the nail holes as expected. What surprised me was the walls continued to get crumbly. This made me nervous as I didn't want her feet to disappear before my eyes nor did I want her to get sore. There was also nothing to nail a shoe onto thanks to the crumbling. I thought about glue on shoes or having equicasts applied. However my farrier happened to receive a demo kit of a new product from Easycare so we decided to give them a try this past week.

They sent Gwen a kit for their new product which is the Easyboot Glue On. Basically it is a shell that you glue on and it has no hardware at all on it like a regular hoof boot would have. It also has a very aggressive breakover set into the boots. Gwen used the fit kit to determine the appropriate sizes for each foot. Then she applied Sole Guard to the soles on each front hoof and allowed that to set up before gluing on the boots. So in effect we applied pour in pads and then a glue on shoe. The same glue which is used to glue on regular steel shoes is used to glue on the boots.

Gwen pouring in the Sole Guard on Sky's hoof; it sets up in less than 30 seconds


I was really excited to try this as I do believe the best way to grow out a good foot is to not have any nail holes. Before anyone misreads my words let me state I have no problems with shoes at all if I feel they are necessary. I'm simply stating that to best tackle my wants of addressing Sky's long toes and growing in a thicker hoof wall I felt it was best done without regular shoes with nails. The Glue Ons have certainly been tested these first few days as the weather has been so wet. They are still on very tight and she feels great in them. I've managed two rides in between all the rain and Sky has felt very confident and comfortable with big, swinging strides. I've even hopped her over a small crossrail just to test things out. They should ideally be re-glued every 5 to 10 days and you can reset each boot several times. I can put the Sole Guard in and re-glue the boots myself, that part is fast and easy. They fit very tightly but nothing comes above the coronary band so nothing gets rubbed. On her black feet some people don't even notice that there is something on it, the boot is that inconspicuous.

One freshly applied Glue On boot

Speaking of riding Sky - I love her. She gets stronger and learns more with every ride. She is really getting the concept of back to front, inside leg to outside rain, lifting her back, etc. I was really excited today as we had our most correct canter to trot transitions yet. She tries to please you with every step and you can't complain about that!

My other fabulous rides the last few days have been on Bonnie. I've squeezed in two rides on her as well between rain showers. (I have to insert here that I love my arena, no matter how much it rains there is never a puddle in there!) I've spent the last two rides on Bonnie with a giant smile plastered on my face and said "good girl!" about 15,000 times. I can't believe the difference. Her flat work went from being iffy Training Level, mainly due to the canter but also sometimes the trot, to being not only stellar Training Level but solid First Level as well. She has felt amazing the last two rides and for the life of me I do not know what changed with her and what brought this on. We've made progress over the last few months but it has been slow and painful (I mentioned that riding this horse was going to turn me into a zen master) but the last two rides have been WOW.

She is so soft, so engaged, and so round it is unbelievable. Her transitions are incredible, we're doing nice shoulder-in work at the trot in addition to our leg yields, really nice lengthenings at the trot and canter, and she stays so soft and connected in the downward transitions. I really want to identify what allowed us to make this giant leap forward together because I desperately want it to stay this way!!! But I really don't know what changed, same rider, same saddle, same bridle and bit, riding in the same place, etc. As I mentioned previously I had done some ground driving with Bonnie and Sky to acclimate them to the cows and other scary things so we could get out of the arena more often. We have had a few nice walking trail rides up and down the hills and meandering through the cow pasture. Maybe she is just happier because of the variety?


On the dog front the stray dog that appeared last week is still with us. She is so sweet and so friendly, and so frantic about not letting you disappear from her sight. She follows every step I take on the farm which isn't a good thing. She has no horse experience at all, that is very obvious as I've watched her almost get stepped on too many times, and she is too old and arthritic to keep forcing herself to keep up with me. I cover a lot of ground during a day's work around here. She also follows me when I ride. I've tried shutting her in a stall but that sends her into a blind panic. I hope we either find her real home soon or she settles down a lot. I can't blame the poor thing for her state of mind but it isn't working out well for her or for me.

She is so sweet and I hate to see her act so frantic about not letting me out of her sight and following me as closely as possible.

We had a mobile dog groomer out to the farm last week


In other dog news we had the mobile groomer out on Friday for the dogs. all of the dogs except for Bush had a bath and Bella and Bear were clipped. My house cat Gracie was bathed and clipped as well. I've never had Bear shaved before in the 10 years we've been together. However I've been really lax the last several months about grooming him and his coat was reflecting it. I was thinking about just having him bathed and having a super duper grooming on him but my dad talked me into having him shaved and letting him grow back in a brand new coat. Well, see for yourself:

Bear unshaved

Bear after his shave. EEEEEK!! She had to go really close to the skin since he has a thick undercoat, and the undercoat was the main part that needed to go. My dog went from being a Schipperke to a Chihuahua!

In some ways he looks kind of cute. Jason is horrified though. I keep telling him it will all grow back.

Bella had a bath and good body trim as well

Bugle had a super deep clean bath, he was gross; Bugle did not want to be groomed and managed to jump out of this tiny window of the groomer's trailer in an escape attempt. My dad and I saw him make the leap and couldn't believe he got his body through that tiny opening. He didn't get far and went right back in for his grooming!

Trooper, the 3-legged wonder dog, also had a super scrubby bath and a blow dry

Bear and Trooper relaxing after their morning at the spa; I don't think they looked at it as the spa treatment.

Bear sporting his new 'do


This week won't be quite as busy as last week but we'll still have plenty going on. There is another dentist day on Thursday. So more teeth floating and sheath cleaning coming up on Thursday. After Thursday there will be one more dentist/sheath day left and then I can cross that off of my to-do list for awhile, thank goodness. The dentist (actually she is a vet) is a great person and I like her a lot but those are extra long days.

I'm off to tuck in the World's Cutest Fainting Goats and to wrap up this day.

Faune and Asterik. Faune is a Selle Francais and won a lot in the hunters at the biggest shows. I've had the pleasure of riding him a few times. He is a very big boy at just shy of 18 hands but he is light as a feather to ride. The term "broke to death" would apply to this horse - you think it and before you've even finished your thought it is happening underneath you. Asterik is a Holsteiner and showed in both the a/o hunters and jumpers. Not many horses can do that and win at both on the A circuit. He is a lovely mover and jumps in beautiful style, and he also has a lot of scope.
Mr. O'Reilly and Chili. Mr. O'Reilly is an Irish bred gelding and you can read his detailed story here. Chili is a Quarter Horse and was both a working cow horse and a trail horse in the Colorado mountains. These horses have no idea how lucky they are
Baby in the back (fanciest hunter mover I've ever seen), Tony (nationally ranked in the top six a/o hunters) and Dustin (grand prix jumper) in the front
Ivan (Grand Prix jumper) in the back and Chance (race horse, carriage horse, and finally h/j horse) in the front
Leo in the back (awesome show hunter who also showed through 4th Level dressage) and Elfin (one of the top a/o hunters in Zone 4)
Ivan
Homer; Homer is another one of our residents who is originally from Ireland. He won a lot in the hunters and was circuit champion at places like the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Not a bad retirement

6 comments:

Kate said...

My, you have been busy! Interesting report on the glue-on boots - let us know how they continue to work out. So exciting that both Bonnie and Sky are doing so well with you!

IsobelleGoLightly said...

oh dear! BAAAHHHHHH-EEEEEE HEEEEE HEEEEEEEEE! Bear looks a little funny. I really had to giggle when I saw him! HEE HEE HEEEEEE! He must feel a cool breeze! Giggles from Isobelle!

Vivian, Apollo's Mom said...

Love the dog grooming! My dog, Maestro, whom you met, the $15,000 dog, thanks to our legal fees, HATES being groomed. He has been banned from 2 groomers and will not tolerate being brushed. SOMETIMES he will let himself be combed. He is matted and disgusting and has to be thoroughly tranquilized at home and raised in a sling suspended from the ceiling in order to be groomed. This is a major ordeal so he usually looks like a mess! Glad you are having great rides and Sky's boots are working well!

LuLo Designs/Blue Eyed Tango said...

Wow what an interesting post. I really enjoyed the hoof boot dress....and Bear...sorry...I agree with Jason. Faun...most interesting horse to ride at almost 18 hands...cannot imagine....Bugle trying to get out of grooming. Love the pic with your dad and him in the gator? Have a great week....I like being wet too....just seems to go with outdoor work and horses!

RuckusButt said...

I think Bear looks like a puppy again, it's cute. He might need a sweater though :)

I love hearing about alternatives to traditional shoes, it's very interesting. I figure more options is always better, that way you can customize it to the horse's needs. Keep us posted!

With Bonnie - maybe it is as simple as more consistent work? Plus YOU are happier riding her from the sounds of it, which must make her happier and that likely helps her learning. Just a thought.

Jason said...

I have a shorn rat with a Schipperke head for a pet. Not much I can do about this round, but NEXT time the grooming truck comes round these parts, I'm going to be right there with it !