Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Monday, March 21, 2011

On the Barefoot Bandwagon

I have finally committed my self to the barefoot bandwagon.

It's only taken seven years.

With Moose, I simply could not entertain the idea of a naturally barefoot horse.  I was too busy learning all the ins and outs of actually owning a horse.  The most pressing issue with him was keeping weight on him.  I swear, I have one picture that looks like the "before" shot on a rescue case.

Things changed when I got Cricket and I decided to try barefoot.  Not only was I more confident in my abilities but Cricket was a clean slate.  I fired my first farrier (an event shortly before Moose's death opened my eyes to just how incompetent he was).  I hooked up with a barefoot trimmer/farrier.  We kept Cricket barefoot for a few months before trying her in front shoes.  After about 9 months or so, we went back to barefoot.  I tried, for two years, to keep Cricket barefoot.  It just never worked right.

At the suggestion of Gene Ovnicek we put her in shoes on all four feet.  It made such a huge difference in her movement and her comfort.  I kept her in shoes until I had a falling out with my farrier (brilliant trimmer, crazy lady).  I found a decent trimmer and kept her barefoot.  I figured this would be the lesser of two evils, the worst being Jim Bob slapping shoes on her and ruining her feet completely.

Cricket never was that comfortable and after about a year I found another Natural Balance trimmer/farrier and put her back in shoes.  This continued until last year when I got Bleu and I decided to take Cricket back to barefoot.  I had noticed, in the cycles we'd leave her barefoot that each time she was moving a little better.  With Bleu to take up some of the slack, I thought just maybe we can try to get her fully transitioned to barefoot.

After my ride this weekend, I'm on the bandwagon.  100%.

Over the last year, I've been tweaking Cricket's nutrition.  She's always had good feet and it's been a bit of a mystery (to me, at least) why she was always tender footed.  I was introduced to the idea that maybe what she has is a weak laminar connection.  Each step exerts pressure that pulls on the laminae, much like trying to pry your fingernail from the nail bed.  Ouch!  So we've changed some things to support the strength of that connection.

Easyboot Glove
I have discovered the Easyboot Glove.  When I took Cricket out of front shoes around 2005, the newest boot on the market was the Easyboot Boa.  Easy to put on, easy to take off but horrible for my horse.  They were too clunky and Cricket didn't like them.

I've glanced at hoof boots over the years but not really paid attention to the advancements in material, design and technology.

I borrowed a pair of Gloves to ride in this weekend.  I had her walking, trotting and cantering in the paddock and didn't feel one iota of difference in her stride, balance or movement.  Out on the little trail ride, her first steps on the gravel were very tentative.  Almost like she expected it to hurt.  And then she evened out.

I absolutely loved the Easyboot Gloves!

The very coolest thing about the Gloves is that you can order, directly from EasyCare, a fit kit to assist you in getting the correct size boots.  The website includes instructions for measuring and ordering the fit kit.  The kit comes with the size boot you think you need plus the sizes on either side.  The total cost is about $9 and that includes return postage.  Can't beat that with a stick.


Tina said...

Exciting!! So glad that you found something that will work for you. I'm SO SO glad that we don't have that problem - all of our horses are gravel crunchers and I love it. Good thing, too, because last time I checked, there weren't any boots available that would actually fit any of our horses!

Lisa said...

Part of my issue with Cricket is her wicked sensitivity. I think this is tied to her headshaking - certain stimuli are just more stressing to her. She's so acutely aware and absolutely intolerant of discomfort.

Even with the Gloves, her steps were a little halting. Easycare makes comfort pads for the boots so that may be another part of the solution.

I'm just THRILLED we could find a boot that doesn't affect her movement at all!

Parelli Central said...

Great tip, my horses are barefoot and going strong with it, but I have been looking for a good boot, just in case!

Petra Christensen
Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
Parelli Central