Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sure Foot, Day 2

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was hoping to try the Sure Foot pads with Nimo again last night.  As it turned out, he was much more interested in eating the tiniest bits of green leaves that he could eek out from underneath the round pen fence than he was in standing still on the pads.  So I called it a night with him and turned him back out, thinking that I would try the pads in the barn the next time that I came out to see if that helped reduce all the distractions in the round pen.  But I was feeling very unfulfilled...

Luckily, a friend of mine happened to be at the barn and she has this perfectly lovely husband horse.  The horse is a gaited breed, but I can't remember exactly which kind.  She reminds me a lot of a quarter horse in terms of her mental state, though.  She is quiet and kind and sturdy...and the perfect horse to experiment on with the Sure Foot pads:)

My friend was excited about trying the pads with her horse when I told her about them, so we took her horse out to the round pen.  First we let her sniff the pads and hang out next to them for a few minutes.  Then, I carefully picked up her left front foot and placed it on the pad.  She was a bit reluctant to put weight on the foot for a few seconds, but then she settled right in.  It wasn't long before there was some licking/chewing and her eyes got very soft.

So we decided to put her right foot on a pad too.  Same thing.  More licking and chewing and lip twitching and blinking.  All signs that she was letting go of tension.  And she got quite relaxed.  We let her stand on the pads for several minutes until she walked off of them by herself.

And because things had gone so well with her front feet, we thought we'd try her hind feet too.  I started off putting on pad under her right hind.  Much like with her first front foot, she was reluctant to put weight on the pad.  I waiting maybe 30 seconds and then walked around to her left side and gently pushed on her hindquarters to get her to put weight on her right hind.  That did the trick, and she happily stood on the pad for several minutes.  She continued to release tension with licking and chewing and she seemed pretty relaxed.

So we put her left hind on the pad.  And she started yawning a little and continued to seem quite relaxed.  After a few minutes with both hind feet on the pads, she walked off the left pad, but she kept her right hind on the other pad.

My friend and I just chatted while the horse relaxed with only her right hind foot on the pad, and then she just started yawning one right after the other.  I think she may have yawned more than 10 times over just a couple of minutes.  Eventually she did move her foot off the pad, and we called it a night for her.

It was very cool to watch this horse on these pads.  She was both relaxed and releasing a lot of tension.  I should say that the mare doesn't have any particular issues.  As I mentioned above, she's a pretty solid equine citizen and aside from a little reaction when the girth is tightened, she is in very good shape physically and mentally.  And yet, there was obviously still a lot of tension for her to release.

Even Wendy Murdoch admits that she and other scientists can't really explain how the stability pads work to release tension and improve a horse's self-awareness.  Yet, based on my friend's horse's reaction last night, I have to conclude that they do something.  Now I'm interested to know if my friend (or her husband) notices any changes in the horse's behavior or movement, and we're planning to follow up with another session tonight.

I'd love to hear if anyone else has had any experience (positive or negative) with the Sure Foot pads, so please feel free to leave a comment if you'd like to share:)  And I'll continue to try to work with Nimo using the pads, so I'll provide an update once I have anything substantive to say.

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