Thursday, July 19, 2012


I managed to find time to ride my horse today! We didn't just lollygag around either... we saddled up and went for an actual ride, and instead of playing around in the snaffle, I rode in our show bit. The weather is still quite hot and even more humid, but there was a nice breeze today that helped keep things bearable.

My goal today was to work on right lead canter transitions. That's pretty much where we left off last time, so I knew we could pick up there today. We had been making progress but still had a ways to go and after we started working, it was clear that she wasn't going to go easy on me today.

She warmed up nicely but once I started asking for the canter, she wanted to GO! The fact that it was hot didn't really matter to her apparently, so after fighting with her a bit, I just let her go. She seemed grateful for the freedom and ran about 15 laps around the arena at mach speed and once I thought my guts had been thoroughly rearranged in my abdomen, I decided I'd had enough and asked her to whoa. She did her best sliding stop and seemed grateful that I asked for it. I gave her a few quick minutes to catch her breath and then we went back to it.

With the shank bit, she gets cranky when I'm constantly in her mouth asking her for slow. I get cranky when I have to constantly ask for slow, so I'm trying to help her understand that when she goes nicely on her own, I leave her face alone. We worked a lot on holding her for a few strides and then letting her go on her own for a few strides. Once she speeds up, I hold her for a few strides, then let her go... eventually she started to get the hang of it.

We had been working to the right for quite some time, so I wanted to reverse and work on her left lead canter. The transitions this way are always nice and smooth, and I don't get any of the head popping like I do to the right, so this way is more about getting her to rate her speed. The very first time we cantered, she went slow on her own and kept her neck nice and level. It was like she was saying, "is this what I'm supposed to do?" It was beautiful! After making it half way around the arena on a loose rein with a gorgeous LOPE, I asked her to stop, and I hopped off. If I could get her to lope like that all the time, she would be amazing!

I loosened her girth and walked her around the arena until she was breathing normally, and then we headed back to the barn. She was SO sweaty! I didn't have my camera, but I did have my iPhone, so here's the best I have.

So sweaty!
You know it was a good workout when there's sweat dripping down the hooves... and I really didn't even work her that hard. It was all her!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Lilly Hooves

I haven't done any hoof comparisons in a while, so when I went to visit Lilly today I took my camera and got a couple shots of her hooves. When I decide to trim her hooves, it usually takes me about 3 days. The first day is trimming all the obvious stuff, the second day is fixing what I think I missed the first day, and then the third day is when I decide they look pretty good after a few more touch-ups. Today was day two, of course, so I'm still working on some of the areas... sometimes I feel pretty "special" when working with my trimming tools, so it often takes me quite a while to get things done.

The hoof wall on her hind hooves grow like CRAZY, and if I don't keep up with them they really start to flare. On her fronts, though, it's still really just about shaping, rolling the toe from the top of the hoof, trimming the bars, and rasping down the heels. She grows absolutely NO hoof wall on her quarters or toes and I'm really starting to get frustrated. I don't think she'll ever be completely comfortable on her bare hooves if she's constantly walking around on sole. And it's not like I'm riding her down the concrete road, wearing them down... she stands in a sandy pasture all day and gets ridden in a sandy ring (and not very often, I'm ashamed to say).

The no wall thing also means her hooves are uneven... if you look down at the hoof from the heel, it's all over the place, but I don't want to try and get things level and flat because that would mean touching the live sole, and I certainly don't want to do that. Why can't the fronts grow hoof wall like the hinds do??

Left Front Hoof
First trim back in September...
After yesterday's trim...
Right Front Hoof

First trim back in September...
After yesterday's trim...
Aside from having zero concavity and no hoof wall to work with, I think they look pretty healthy. Hopefully everyone agrees... Her heels have really relaxed and she's still quite happy as far as I can tell. If I could only get some hoof wall to grow I could try and work on some of the shape issues I see with the whole hoof.


Monday, July 16, 2012

False Sole?

I was planning on riding Lilly today, but those plans were dashed when I started picking out her hooves. I haven't ridden her in a while, but I have been grooming her and I have been picking out her hooves, so when things change, I notice. It had been about three days since I spent any real time with her and it seems like her hooves have grown like crazy over the past couple days. When I last picked them out, I figured I'd need to trim them soon, but today I knew I needed to do it now!

So I got to work and now I know how my trimmer feels when it's hot as blue blazes outside and she's rasping like crazy. I had sweat dripping everywhere! It's time for a new rasp and a pair of nippers for real!

The first thing I noticed when I started in with my hoof knife was that Lilly's soles were very strange looking. I always lightly run my hoof knife over her sole to knock down the high spots and when I did, giant patches of sole fell off. I've never seen such a thing in real life and assumed this is the false sole I hear everyone talking about... were her soles exfoliating?

Unfortunately, since I wasn't planning on doing hoof care today, I didn't have my camera with me. Attempts with my iPhone camera turned out awful, so I gave up. I've seen some pictures of horses with false sole and there are huge cracks, but Lilly's looked more like thin layers laying over each other. Similar to this picture I stole from Progressive Horse:

Flaky, false sole.
It came off very easily, and the sole underneath it looked really nice, so I lightly scraped off as much of it as I could without digging into it. I started doing some research after I got home and some of the stuff I read said to leave the false sole alone.

So did I screw up by taking it off, or is it okay to remove the pieces that come off easily? She only had the false sole on her front hooves and not her hinds, so I'm curious as to why it was there. Is it a good thing, or something that indicates I'm not doing something right? We had a few straight weeks of nothing but hot, dry weather, and then it rained for about four days straight. Could something like that have caused the flaky sole?

She was a bit of a booger while I was trimming her, but she seemed happy and content when I was done, so I wonder if it was bothering her?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Can't Win

I'm sorry about the lack of posts... it's just that I don't have anything very exciting to share. The temperatures have been so crazy hot the last week or so, that riding is just not something on my to-do list. I suppose Lilly and I could tough it out, but why? She's sweating just standing still, so it doesn't feel fair to take her to the arena and make her work in the hot sun. Maybe if we were training for the Olympics or something...

We finally got a break from the hot temperatures yesterday, and it's supposed to stay in the 80's all week, but the break in heat comes only because we're getting a bunch of rain. Rain means a sloppy arena, so even though I thought about riding today, the arena was way too soggy.

So instead of going for a ride, Lilly got a nice, warm bath to wash off all the icky that was left over from the heat. She was quite crusty and her skin screamed for some moisture. She slept through the entire bath, so I'm not sure how much she enjoyed the curry massage, but at least she's back to her sparkling self and her tail is snarl free.

I hope everyone else is getting in some good rides. Hopefully I'll be posting some of my own soon!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Boring and Busy

Thanks to the weather, things have been pretty boring in the horse world. The BO has been keeping Lilly in during the day and turning her out at night at my request. So each day around noon, I drove over to see her. I refill her water, throw her a flake of hay, pick out her stall, spray her with fly spray, and groom her. Then I'm on my way back home. We're getting a break in the weather, but it's coming just in time for my week to get busy with non-horsey things and wedding things. That's the way it always goes.

A few months ago, I started thinking about going to a Paint show. There is one the weekend of July 14th and I was seriously considering going. It's an EIGHT(!) judge show, and those are always really expensive because you pay per class, per judge, but they implemented a "poor boy" fee, so I figured I might actually be able to afford it. It's still pricey, but one of my goals this year was to show at an APHA show and this one is my only option.

I've decided, however, I'm not going. Even though it's "affordable", it's still too expensive considering how much time I've been able to spend working my horse these last couple months. I was thinking maybe with eight judges, one of them might like us, but I just can't risk it. Even if I wasn't worried about placing, it's still fun to go to these weekend breed shows, but I just can't talk myself into it.

So instead of the Paint show, I'm planning on hauling Lilly to a smaller, local show. Hopefully the weather stays tolerable and I can get in some good rides between now and then. The arena was finally dragged, so at least we're making some progress.

Hope everyone is staying cool!