Sunday, September 27, 2015

Trimming Update, hind feet part 3

Mel over at the Boots and Saddles blog often does an "In Real Life" post at the end of a month to talk about how her goals differed from reality.  I've always enjoyed reading them, but have never posted something similar because I seldom have specific goals each month.  However, with this series on Nimo's hind feet, I did have some very specific things that I wanted to show and real life ended up creating some difficulties.  So here's my version of IRL.

What I had hoped to do was to show you how Nimo's feet changed over the course of a three-week trim cycle and then conclude by giving some details about how I trim.  What actually happened is that after managing to get some halfway decent pictures showing Nimo's freshly trimmed hooves, I forgot my good camera, so had to use my iPhone camera, which is not intended for taking pictures of horses' hooves at night in a poor lighting.  Then, I missed taking pictures at week 2 because I had guests staying with me for the week.  During week 3, my skills with the iPhone camera got exponentially worse, resulting in pictures that are almost unidentifiable.  Also, I completely changed my objective.  More on that in a bit.

But first, I'll show you the comparison photos that are kind of pointless because it turns out that Nimo's hooves didn't really change much during the three weeks.  They measured 6 1/8" wide by 6 1/8" long just after the trim and they measured 6 1/4" wide by 6 1/8" long at 3 weeks.  The only real changes I noticed were that the gap between the back quarter of the hooves and the ground got smaller and the beveling on the bottom of the hoof got more rounded and worn.

LH front view
LH lateral view
LH back view
LH bottom view
RH front view
RH lateral view
RH back view
RH bottom view
Normally at this point, I would trim Nimo's feet.  I like to schedule frequent trims because Nimo's feet are big and hard to rasp, so trimming often helps keep the work load manageable.  However, I had a little epiphany a couple of days before.  I have been using Cavallo Simple hoof boots on Nimo's hind feet for about the last year because he absolutely hated the Easyboot Epics I started off using.  Nimo wore the Cavallos for our ride at Fort Valley last year and they worked OK, but he ended up with an interference scrape on the inside of his left hind fetlock and the boot on his right hind twisted a little by the end of the ride.  The interference injury was likely due to how close he travels behind and the relatively large profile of the Cavallo boots while the twisting was likely due to the round shape of the boot and Nimo's slightly funky movement on that hind leg.  I've been meaning to work on trying different boots, but Nimo rarely needs hoof boots on his hind feet and while he tolerates the Cavallos, I can tell he still isn't crazy about them and I wasn't looking forward to tormenting him further.

But, hoof protection is required on all four hooves for OD rides, and with one coming up next month, I knew I needed to start riding with hoof boots on Nimo's hind feet.  I brought the Cavallos back out, thinking that with Nimo's measurements, they might be a little snug.  The Cavallo website shows that 6 1/8" is the upper limit for both width and length for size 6 Simple boots.  However, the Cavallos did still seem to fit and they worked OK, but they just seemed so clunky on his feet, especially when he cantered up a hill.

Because I was in the hoof measuring and hoof boot research zone for Nimo's front feet (I tried the Easyboot Trails with success a week ago), it seemed natural to keep working on options for his hind feet.  I had a couple of brand new size 4 Easyboot Epics that I bought in February this year, thinking they would work for Nimo's front feet.  When they didn't, I just put them in the giant container in the garage with all my other failed or broken boots.  When I checked the measurements for the size 4s, I realized that I just needed to trim a tiny bit off the width of Nimo's hind feet and they should fit.  The maximum width for the boot is 5 15/16 and Nimo's width on a fresh trim is 6 1/8.  The maximum length is 6 7/16 and Nimo's is 6 1/8.

I have always meticulously avoided trimming Nimo's feet to fit a boot.  I have completely bought into the idea that a horse's feet should be trimmed the way they should be and then a shoe or boot is fitted.  However, that philosophy has been causing me endless issues with hoof boots over the years.  So, much like many other philosophies that I have held dear (horses should wear bits, hooves should be trimmed by a professional, a whip should be used for discipline), I decided to pitch this one in the trash.

I can sort of hear the collective gasp of horror at this point, but hear me out.  The difference in the width of Nimo's feet and the boot is 3/16 of an inch.  That is a pretty small amount on a hoof the size of Nimo's.  On a tiny hoof, 3/16 of an inch is probably a big deal.  On Nimo's hoof, it's basically a margin of error (3%).  It would mean taking an additional 1.5/16" off of each side of the hoof.  So I decided to just trim the back quarters of Nimo's feet to 5 15/16" and leave the rest of the hoof alone as it really hadn't changed significantly from when I'd trimmed it.  Then, I found a nice blunt object and proceeded to pound the size 4 Easyboot Epic onto one of Nimo's hind feet.  And I gasped in amazement.  I could instantly tell the boot fit really well.  It was the first time I was seeing a hoof boot that looked right on his hoof.  So I put the other one on and it looked really good too.

Behold the vision of properly fitting boots!
Nimo was quite tolerant of all the wrangling I had to do to get the boots on, so I decided to test the initial fit by walking and trotting Nimo on the gravel around the barn.  I had been going to go out to the arena because it was dark but another boarder had just spotted a large coyote, so I thought keeping close to the barn was a good idea:)  Anyway, Nimo walked and trotted quite well, with none of the stomping and fussing that he had displayed when wearing the size 5 Epics over a year ago.

The next step would be to go on a real ride to see how the boots held up.  Luckily, I had planned to go camping with Nimo at Graves Mountain in a few days, and those extreme trails would be a perfect proving ground for the boots.  To find out how the boots worked, stay tuned for my next post:)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Nimo's New Easyboot Trail Hoof Boots

I have been using the Easyboot Epics for Nimo's front feet for over 2 years.  He has been wearing a size 5, but that size seemed too big for him this year, even though his measurements fell within both the width and length guidelines for that size.  So I bought a pair of size 4s and discovered that they were too small.  I realized that the difference in measurements between sizes and even within a size is fairly significant for the Epics, and I started contemplating using a different brand or model to see if I could get a better fit.  I had initially tried using a variety of hoof boot pads, but they all fell short of my expectations, so a different boot seemed like the best solution.

I've been procrastinating about getting new boots because I expected the process to be challenging and there really just aren't that many rides where I feel like Nimo even needs them.  (Plus, they are horrifyingly expensive in Nimo's size.)  However, with the OD National Championship ride opening up an open LD category and the Fort Valley ride that I'd hoped to attend cancelled, I realized that if I want to do another ride this year, I really need to be planning to go to the OD ride next month.  And that means I need 4 functional hoof boots.  So, with the proper motivation in place, I started comparing boots and I decided that the new Easyboot Trails looked like a good possibility.

I ordered a pair of size 10 boots for Nimo because his measurements fit at the top end of the width and length for that size (he measures 6 1/8" across and 6 1/4" for length on the front) so I was hoping I wouldn't have any gaps and the boots would fit snugly but not too tight.  Because of the design of the Trails, I worried a little about heel rubs, but I was excited about the prospect of not having to use any tools or worry about hardware malfunctions.  The Trails are similar to the Cavallo boots, which I've used on Nimo's hind feet, in that they close over the top of the coronet band and utilize Velcro closures instead of cables and buckles.

I did a fresh trim on Nimo's front feet after the boots arrived and just managed to get them on.  To check to see if there would be any immediate issues, I hopped on Nimo bareback at dusk and took him for a 25 minute walk around the farm.  (And let me just say how cool it was that I could do that.  I first rode Nimo bareback last December, and I now feel confident enough to take him out of the arena at dusk, when he is at his spookiest.)  Nimo moved well in the boots and didn't fuss at me, so I figured they fit well enough to try them on the trail.  The instructions did say to give the boots a break-in period, so I planned to go to Sky Meadows State Park and do 7-8 miles to test the boots.

I decided to meet a friend at the park on Sunday morning and I was feeling pretty proud of myself as I headed out to the barn.  I had gotten up on time, packed a lunch, snacks, and assorted beverages, and remembered to put a few things back in the truck that I had taken out in the name of cleaning.  I pulled into a gas station near the barn and maneuvered my truck and trailer into a fairly tight spot with ease and without hitting anything.  I reached for my purse to grab my wallet and made a startling discovery.  I HAD FORGOTTEN MY PURSE!!!  I had about 37 cents in change in the truck, no cell phone, and not that much gas.  And apparently gas stations don't have pay phones anymore (although I'm not sure I could have afforded one anyway.)

So, I unmaneuvered myself from the pump and headed back home, driving as fast as I dared through speed trap territory.  I got home, ran into the house, grabbed my purse, and attempted to slink out the door without anyone noticing...And that was not to be.  My husband and daughter were standing in the kitchen gaping at me.  I felt compelled to explain I'd forgotten my purse and then ran for the front door.  My husband said something about just using a cell phone to call him so he could have brought my purse to the barn (perhaps I should mention that this is absolutely not the first time I've forgotten my purse before a ride).  I imagined that I was Katniss from the Hunger Games and that I had a full quiver of arrows before I yelled that I didn't have a cell phone and then ducked out the door before further humiliation could befall me.

I called my friend on the way back to the barn to let her know I was running very late - close to an hour - because of my forgetfulness and I suggested that she and the other lady who was meeting us go ahead and start on their ride and I would catch up when I got there.  Then I got gas, threw my tack in the truck, loaded my horse faster than I ever have, and got on the road about 45 minutes late.  However, I made it to the park in record time, so I ended up only being a half hour late and my friend hadn't left on the ride yet.

I got Nimo ready really fast, feeling terribly guilty about being late, although my friend was quite understanding and in no hurry.  We got on the trail about 20 minutes later.  My hope was that I could do the 3-ish mile mountain trail to test the boots during a climb and then do several miles of meadow trails to test the boots at a trot.  I wasn't sure what the other two ladies I was riding with would want to do, though, so I expected that I would ride with them and then head back to the trail if I felt like I needed more or different miles.

As it happened, we did do the mountain trail.  It's not as strenuous as some of the mountain trails I've done, but it is still a significant climb, with some level of rockiness, but nothing excessive.  I have done the trail with Nimo barefoot, so I was interested to see how he would handle it with boots.  And he did just fine.  He seemed his usual self, carefully picking his way through the rockier sections and then offering to trot up some of the steeper sections.

View from about halfway up the Lost Mountain at Sky Meadows
After about 4.5 miles of riding, my friend was done and wanted to end her ride, but the other lady that had come (who I had just met) was interested in doing some trot work with her horse.  So the two of us made sure my friend was good back at the trailer and then we headed out to the meadow trails for some faster work.  The meadow trails are mostly grass and they do have a few good hills but are otherwise relatively flat and wide, and they are perfect for trot and canter work.

I noticed that Nimo and the other horse had trouble finding a rhythm at first.  The other horse had been wanting to go faster during the first part of his ride, but after losing one of the group, he seemed more hesitant and reluctant to be in front.  And Nimo didn't really want to be in front either.  So we spent about a half mile working with the horses to convince them to move out.  It didn't seem to be an issue with wanting to leave the trailers because both horses were walking out really well, but they didn't want to trot in front.  After about a half a mile of Nimo mostly leading and trotting slowly (oh, so slowly), the other horse gained confidence and took the lead.  After that, the horses moved really well together and Nimo used his 14 mph trot to keep up with the other horse's canter and we moved quite quickly through another 3 miles or so of trail and then walking the last 3/4 mile to the parking lot.

I'm going to interject something unrelated here before I give you my thoughts on the hoof boots.  The other lady I rode with told me that she had wanted to do endurance riding, but her horse wouldn't pulse down quickly enough.  I thought that was kind of a weird thing to say, especially because it was clear her horse (not an Arab) was fit and was regularly ridden on very challenging trails.  But I let it go and didn't really say anything, because I didn't really know the lady or her horse and I figured it wasn't any of my business.  At the end of the ride, we were chatting and the lady mentioned that she'd had so much fun trotting and cantering because her horse really liked to go faster than a walk, but she had trouble finding people to ride with that also liked to go faster.  I had noticed that her horse seemed very comfortable cantering on the trail and very in control, and I was admiring how well they worked together.  I'm not sure exactly how we ended up on the topic of pulsing down, but at one point the lady mentioned she'd been riding on a difficult climb with an experienced endurance rider.  The lady's horse needed a break during the climb and the endurance rider (on an Arab) mentioned that she thought the horse would have trouble pulsing down on an endurance ride.  Apparently, that comment (and whatever other related conversation occurred) was enough to convince this lady that she shouldn't do endurance with her horse.  When I asked how long it was taking him to pulse down to 60 bpm after a trail ride, the lady said she didn't know because she'd never actually taken his pulse rate.  She just took the endurance rider's comment at face value and thought she couldn't do endurance riding on her horse.

I'm not telling this story to belittle the lady I rode with in any way.  In fact, I was really impressed by her and her horse.  She had already figured out hoof boots and was riding with 4 of them that seemed to fit and stayed on the whole ride.  She worked very well with her horse and the two of them have logged lots and lots of miles together, many of those miles on their own and over mountainous terrain.  The reason I'm telling the story is because I realized that we never know how those around us will interpret what we say.  I have no idea if that experienced endurance rider meant to be discouraging or was just thinking out loud or maybe even just trying to provide some advice.  What I do know is that a lot of experienced riders have talked to me about cooling my horse, electrolyting, and pulsing down.  It is true that I (and every other rider) need to be aware of those issues.  But the fact that my horse might take longer to pulse down than a very fit Arab doesn't mean my horse can't do endurance.  It just means I need to manage him carefully, pay attention, and develop strategies to help him.

So I explained to the lady I rode with that if there is any horse who shouldn't be doing endurance, it is a 17-hand, black Friesian.  And yet, we're doing it.  So if we can do it, so can she and her horse, if that is what she (and her horse) wants to do.  Of course, we still have a long way to go and I still have a lot to learn, but I was horrified that someone who was clearly a great candidate for endurance riding had been discouraged before she even started.

So for those of you reading, if you are experienced in any discipline and you happen to have the opportunity to interact with anyone who is new or even just interested, please remember that what you say might be taken differently than you meant it.  It's something I need to remember too, which is one reason I'm writing about it here.  Enough said...

Back to those boots.  They performed really well overall.  I still feel like they were a little bit big, but that may be remedied by letting the hoof grow a little.  I had initially thought I'd need to trim every week to keep them fitting right because Nimo's measurements were right at the top of the scale, but now I'm thinking there might be some room.

They look so clean and fancy compared to my other boots!
I loved how easy the boots were to put on.  They have a neat feature that allows the outer shell of the boot to be pulled back and stuck together while the base of the boot is applied to the hoof.  The Cavallo Simple boots I've used do not have that feature and it can be annoying to keep all of the Velcro parts from sticking together while putting the boot on.

This is a view of the side of the boot with the outer shell pulled back and stuck together to keep the Velcro out of the way while putting the boot on the hoof.
One thing I do have a concern about is the gaiter attachment at the back of the boot.  I can feel the attachment points through the boot and I wonder if there could be some rubbing over long distances.
Back of the boot - you can see the holes on either side for the attachment of an optional gaiter.
I definitely felt like the boots performed as well as the Epics but without the hassle of gaiters, cables, buckles, and cotter pins and they seemed to fit Nimo's hooves a little better.  Easycare does say these boots are for trail rides, not for performance, though, so there may be a limit to what they can do over time.  However, with as easy as they are to use, I think it is worth it to see how they perform under more challenging and longer rides.  For now, they will be my boot of choice for Nimo's front hooves.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Trimming update, hind feet part 2

I know you've all been waiting with baited breath for the next installment of my posts on Nimo's feet:)  What I wanted to do was to show you what changes had occurred one week after Nimo's trim.  Instead, you'll mostly see how much my iPhone camera sucks as compared to my Pentax K-5.  I've always been unhappy with my iPhone camera, but after getting to the barn and realizing that the battery on my good camera was dead, I had little choice but to plow ahead and take photos with my iPhone.

What I've done below is match up the freshly trimmed hoof with the hoof one week post-trim to give you an idea of how Nimo's feet change during a trim cycle.

I don't see anything too exciting here - just the slight rounding of the hard edges of the bevel.
This is the only set of pictures where I think the more recent picture is the better one.  You can see that the gap between the hoof and the ground in the back quarter of the hoof appears to be gone now.  Interesting...
Nothing exciting here, except you'll notice I finally sawed off that crazy ergot!
My iPhone camera sucks.  Also, the dark area on the Week 1 hoof is just from picking some mud out.
I now have a new appreciation for the poor saps who have to photograph hooves for books.  It's impossible to get the angle the same on two photos!
As with the LH, it looks like the gap in the back quarter of the hoof has almost disappeared.
At least I got the whole hoof in the picture this time!
Again, my iPhone sucks.  I would have loved just a little bit better focus for the Week 1 picture.  And an assistant.  And maybe an alcoholic beverage, because by now I was sweating and cursing.
I'll save any big conclusions that I have until after the trim cycle is completed, but I hope these pictures give you a little bit of an idea about how Nimo's feet are changing.  After one week, there isn't a lot of excitement going on, but I think the most interesting thing I saw was how the back quarters of the hooves changed.  The gap in the quarter is not something that I intentionally do when I trim.  And it doesn't happen every time I trim either.  I'm sure more experienced trimmers will have ideas on what is going on, but I don't think it is anything for me to be concerned about.

Stay tuned for pictures two weeks post-trim!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Dressage exercise: Small circles within a big circle and a breakthrough

I managed to squeeze in a dressage lesson yesterday, which was good, because I hadn't been to one in several weeks.  And I admit that despite my best intentions of entering a schooling show last month (so did not happen), I have really not been working on our dressage much the past couple of months.  I have a hard time being disciplined in the arena when it's really hot, so we've been sticking to pretty basic work.  Thus, I had some concerns that we would be sad and pathetic during our lesson.

As it turned out, Nimo is starting to feel more comfortable at my instructor's new barn.  She moved in May and Nimo has been completely freaking out in the indoor arena at random light and open windows.  He's been gradually getting better, but yesterday was the first time that he seemed reasonably comfortable.  He still eyed the big windows at the ends of the arena with suspicion, but my instructor had us get to work on something fairly difficult for us right away, so we were both too busy working on following her directions to worry about much else.

After exhausting us with a lot of canter/trot transition work which I was thankful to survive, we took a short break, and started an exercise that had I known the endpoint in advance, I would have insisted we could never do.  (This is a favorite tactic of my instructor that always works well.  Somehow she knows what we can do and figures out how to get us there.)

The diagram is below:

Not a rendering of an alien head
We started out in working trot on a 20 meter circle (the big black circle in the diagram).  Then, as we approached the wall on the side of the circle, we would go into the smallest (think collected - active with good joint articulation - not pokey quarter horse jog) trot Nimo could do and still be moving rhythmically and do a 10 meter circle (the smaller red circle in the diagram).  After doing the 10 m circle, we would come back to the main 20 m circle and I would ask for the biggest trot Nimo could give me and still stay reasonably balanced on the circle.  And we proceeded around the 20 m circle, doing a 10 m circle at each side of the arena.  The small circles were always done with Nimo trotting in what will eventually become his collected trot and the main 20 m circle was always done in a lengthened trot.  We would do the transitions between the two trots as close as possible (within 1 or 2 strides) to the wall where the small circle started/ended.  I hope that makes sense.

As we got the hang of the exercise, my instructor had me sit the trot only for the small circles.  Sitting the trot added a challenge because I have a tendency to slow my body movement when I sit, creating a mismatch between Nimo's movement and mine.  Nimo is absolutely unforgiving of such mistakes and he will stop dead in his tracks if my balance or movement is off by more than the tiniest of margins.  So, we did a few more circles until I figured out how to more fluidly switch between sitting and posting trot while also getting the transition within the trot.

Next, my instructor had us canter the 20 m circle and transition to sitting trot for the 10 m circles.  So, the final pattern went like this:  working canter a half 20 m circle, transition to sitting/collected trot for a 10 m circle, working canter a half 20 m circle, transition to sitting/collected trot for a 10 m circle...repeat (but no more than 3 times without taking a break or changing direction).  What made this exercise so challenging for us was the frequent transitions between working canter and the sitting trot, although those transitions also helped in a way because it is easy to lose momentum on a small, slow circle, and the need to transition back into the canter helped both of us to keep thinking forward.  We have struggled with our canter work for years, and I still often internally cringe every time my instructor asks us to canter, even though Nimo's trot to canter transitions have improved so much over the past couple of years.  However, yesterday, we did so much canter work that I was able to get out of that habit and just ask for the canter with the same nonchalance that I use to ask for the trot.

There were two other great results for us from this exercise.  The first was that our canter to trot transitions improved a huge amount.  We typically struggle with making those downward transitions clean and balanced, but because there was just no room or time in the exercise for dilly-dallying, we had to get the transitions sharper and faster.

The second thing was that I actually sat the trot.  I hate sitting trot.  Let me repeat, I HATE sitting trot.  Why do I hate it, you ask?  Well, because I ride a Friesian.  To clarify, Friesians look beautiful when they trot.  All that fabulous knee action is a sight to behold, and many people think that it means that Friesians must feel like gaited horses.  This is WRONG.  Friesians are not gaited, nor do they feel like them.  In fact, they don't even feel like your average quarter horse, who ideally has a flat-kneed action at the trot, which means smoother movement.  All that crazy knee action has to come out somewhere, which means sitting the trot on a Friesian is like riding a jack-hammer - a giant, out-of-control, multi-directional jack-hammer.

It is true that dressage schooling can really help smooth the movement out as the horse's back gets stronger and of course, the rider gets more in tune with the horse.  But in end, sitting the trot on a Friesian is just never going to be as comfortable as it is on breeds that are actually bred as riding horses instead of harness horses.  (Although, I wonder if some other warmblood breeds are also jack-hammers in disguise, based on how uncomfortable their riders look.)  Regardless, my instructor assured me that she was going to help me become comfortable with sitting trot this year because it is essential for me to learn that skill before we can advance much more in dressage (or so saith the dressage masters and those that sell a lot of dressage books - I remain unconvinced).  So she has been throwing in a few strides here or there in our previous lessons, but I could tell she was implementing the final phase of her plan during this lesson.  She had explained to me earlier this year that the typical way professionals learn to sit the trot is through exhaustion.  At the time, I told her that sounded like lunacy.  The theory behind this "exhaustion method" is that you are lunged with no stirrups on a school master at the trot until the tension in your body that is causing the resistance to moving properly with the horse evaporates because your body wants to wither up and die, or some such nonsense...

Anyway, as it turned out, the exhaustion method may not be such a bad idea after all.  As luck would have it, I totally forgot to wear full-seat breeches.  I have come to appreciate them and have been wearing them for my dressage lessons for at least a year now.  But yesterday, I just spaced it and put on my ugliest pair of riding tights because they were clean.  Riding tights don't have much grip or texture to the fabric, in my opinion, thus making them a very poor choice to use when working on sitting trot.  And at the beginning of my lesson, I was sliding all over the place, my heels wouldn't stay down, and I felt like I was going to just swoop right out of the saddle at some point.  I was irritated with myself and struggling with even the simplest of aids.  However, my instructor paid no mind to my issues and really pushed us for lots of canter work at the beginning of the lesson and then through the exercise I explained above.  I was exhausted physically and mentally by the time we changed direction for the last round of the exercise and guess what?  All of a sudden, the sitting trot was not an issue.  I'm not going to claim that I was the reincarnation of Reiner Klimke, but I wasn't bouncing around or uncomfortable anymore.  And my heels stayed down in the canter.  And I was no longer leaning forward at the canter (something I have been struggling with correcting for awhile).  I actually felt like a dressage rider in my slippery knee-patch only riding tights.  Totally weird and cool at the same time.  So maybe it isn't the full-seat breeches after all...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The blog is on Facebook...I think

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I do love keeping in touch with friends that I would not otherwise see because they live far away or our lives have diverged through circumstance.  However, Facebook knows more about me than I do, and I feel uncomfortable with the amount of data that the social network collects.

That said, I was recently reminded by someone (ahem, Funder) that it might be easier for some of my readers if they could see new blog posts through Facebook instead of having to make a special trip over to their internet browser to click on a bookmark.  And I have to admit that I do tend to get to blog posts that I see on FB faster than ones that I don't.  So, for those of you who are interested, the blog is now on Facebook.  You should be able to click on the Facebook Badge link at the top left of this page to access the blog on Facebook.  Simply "Like" the page, and you should be good to go to begin seeing blog posts on your Facebook newsfeed.  (If you are in a mobile app, you should be able to use this link to get to the Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/fit2continue.blogspot.)

There will be some minor content on Facebook that will not be here on the blog.  Things like random pictures, links to interesting websites/blogs/articles, and stream-of-consciousness thoughts that will likely be horse-related are examples of the extra content I expect to put on Facebook.  That said, I do not expect to post more than one thing a day, and there may be days that go by without any updates at all, so my plan is not to aggravate anyone by monopolizing their newsfeed:)

If you have any questions/comments, you can leave a comment below and I'll try to figure out what the problem is.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Trimming update, hind feet part 1

I started trimming Nimo's feet myself a little over 2 years ago.  At the time, I was armed with a couple of books, some website information, a few blog posts by other riders, and a rasp.  I remember the first time I trimmed Nimo's feet was brutal.  It was August, it was hot, and I realized that Nimo's feet were like granite, so it took forever to rasp the smallest amount.  Also, I think it had been at least 8 weeks since his last trim, so his feet were chipped, flared, and long.  Looking back on the pictures, I can see that I could have taken more hoof off, but then I might have ended up in the hospital with heat exhaustion and dehydration...

So fast forward two years, and I managed to scrape together some comparison pictures for you.  The lighting isn't that great because it was night, and it's possible that it was 150 degrees with 1200% humidity, so some of my camera work is a little shaky, but hopefully you'll get the idea.  My plan is to walk you through a full trim cycle, starting with the hooves right after the trim, and then at one week post-trim, two weeks post-trim, and three weeks post-trim.  Finally, I'll try to get some pictures of my trimming process to show you how I do it.  Then, I'd like to repeat that same process with his front feet.  Hopefully, these posts will help me remember what I did as well as provide some information to those who happen to be rabidly interested in horse feet:)

I should note that I still don't know what I'm doing when trimming Nimo's feet.  I've read some more, talked to more people, changed the way I trim more than once, and watched Nimo's feet remodel over time, depending on his work load and the environment.  At this point, I think there is still so much that we don't understand about the way horses' hooves work, and while I did start out committed to following one particular method, I now believe that there is no one right method for every horse.  The resource I'm using most right now is The Horse's Hoof and the online forum associated with it because I think the magazine and forum present the widest range of ideas for me to learn about, and I can find pictures and information about feet that are not grossly pathological.  My complaint about most hoof trimming books is that they present pictures and information about severely neglected hooves or hooves from horses suffering from club feet, laminitis, or other atypical ailments, and the perfect mustang hoof (I may write a post about my feelings on the constant heraldry of the perfect barefoot mustang hoof, if I feel like offending a whole bunch of people).  That information, while valuable, is hard for me to translate into what I see with Nimo's feet.  While Nimo's feet aren't perfect, he is sound and can go barefoot over most terrain, except really heavy gravel and rocks, so I think I'm at least in the ballpark, but I recognize that there is still room to improve.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the pictures of Nimo's hind feet from Tuesday night, immediately after I trimmed them.

Nimo's Left Hind - front view

Nimo's Left Hind - lateral view
Nimo's Left hind - back view
Nimo's Left Hind - bottom view
Nimo's Right Hind - front view
Nimo's Right Hind - lateral view
Nimo's Right Hind - back view (yes, I absolutely cut off part of the hoof in this picture, but it's the best one I have)
Nimo's Right Hind - bottom view
Now, for the comparison, here are the two pictures of each hind hoof that I have from 2 years ago.

LH - front view (the camera angle isn't good, so it looks lopsided, but it really wasn't)
LH - bottom view
RH - front view
RH - bottom view