Sunday, April 12, 2009

101st Post.... oh so much rambling.

Here's a question for you all: How often do you trim your horse's feet? Jr is the first horse I've been responsible for hoof care so I'm learning. I keep JR barefoot and he was trimmed/shod August 17 (before I got him), September 17 (pulled the shoes because he was interfering behind) , December 12, and March 4th. He never looks like he needs a trim and seems to grow really evenly. I even had a few people look at his feet in January and February and no one thought they looked bad, BUT what does happen is that he starts to stumble a LOT. Now that he's generally more balanced in the way he carries himself he stumbles less, but when his feet get long he stumbles a lot. I see all kinds of things like "4-12 weeks" between trims. That seems like a rather vague measure. I also read that hooves grow very little in the winter and much more in the spring. Just the last week or so he's been stumbling a bit. Not terribly, but enough for me to notice. Could he possibly need to be trimmed again this soon? (Admittedly the 3 month intervals between his last three trims was longer than I should have done, but like I said, I'm learning and I had several people confirm that they did not LOOK like they needed a trim.) I want him in good form for the show on May 3rd and do not plan to shoe him unless KAT or the farrier think I need to. Should I schedule him for this week? Next week? Is there a rule of thumb? Is it possible to trim too soon?

I made a realization yesterday that made me pretty happy. Though I am not a trainer and will be the first to admit I haven't a clue..... I've become much more comfortable with training sessions on my own. When I first got Junior it was the first time that I had a horse to ride whenever and however I wanted and unless I scheduled a lesson, no one was going to tell me what to do. The effect this had on me was confusion....what do I DO? Do I just walk trot and canter around the arena like it's a pleasure class? I bought the book 101 Arena Exercises which I've still not gotten into. (I took it to the barn and now that I remembered that I could've read that while the boys grazed...dummy.) I guess I just started to find stuff I wanted to do better. It began with lungeing. He was such a turd at it and it made it really tough to burn energy efficiently that I started making him follow my voice commands... walk on, trot, canter, whoa, come in, etc. Now I "drill" stuff all the time. Trying to get him to halt immediately when I ask. Asking him to lope off then halt, then lope off again. Cantering on the rail, then cantering circles, then back to the rail. Those things make sense to me and I can totally see progress there. There are millions of things I need to work on, especially the one thing KAT told me to work on: figure-8 while doing a counter-bend both ways. I do work on that, but it seems more complicated than my little brain can handle. I do much better with it when KAT is telling me what to do the whole time.

I rode just a bit inside and outside today. Yesterday I decided to just lunge him because I was feeling like he'd worked for 7 days straight and deserved a little easier day. I also anticipate needing to lunge him at shows and we haven't done it for so long he might need to be reminded what it's about. Well, he forgot how. It was like he'd never heard voice commands before. I ended up spending a good half an hour working on WHOA. Reminded me of a horse cartoon where one horse says to the other: "Hi! What's your name? Mine's Whoadammit."


  1. My 4 horses are all barefoot and have been for years. I have them trimmed every 8 weeks in the winter and every 6 weeks in the summer, because of the different rate of growth. My farrier says horses that have feet that stay wet or cold in the winter really slow down their growth. I would ask your farrier's opinion. Who better to ask than someone that does it for a living and that you trust? By the way…Junior is very handsome!

  2. My horse does have shoes on and he is shod every five weeks. When I did have barefoot horses it was every 4-6 weeks. They were kept out in a paddock so they could ware them down themselves but they needed a trim and a file every 4-6 weeks. 3 months sounds like a very long time to me. I do believe it depends on the horse and yep I would be getting the farrier out this week and have a chat to him! :) Sounds like you are doing well in the training area!!!!!

  3. As a barefoot trimmer, most of our clients are on a six week schedule. Rehab horses are on anywhere from weekly check ups to bi-monthly trims for a while. But non-pathological horses average a six week schedule.

    Tip: Don't look at the top of the hoof to tell you if your horse needs a trim. The bottom view (or solar view) tells you more about the health and length of the hoof than a view of just the top of the hoof (or the hoof just sitting on the ground.)

    Hope that helps some.

  4. Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog, and I love it! I definitely relate to the "overanxious horse owner" part. I worry a lot about my horses...I think it is also known as "new mom syndrome"! :D

    My guys are currently barefoot, and they are usually trimmed every 5-6 weeks in the summer and every 7-8 weeks in the winter. I agree...hooves are hard to learn about! One thing that I found helped me is to take photos of the hooves (both side and sole shots). I know it sounds crazy!!!! But then you can see exactly what you're looking at while NOT underneath a thousand pound animal. :D

    I'm glad I came upon your blog and will be back to visit again! Best of luck with your boy! :)

  5. Thanks for the good advice and comments. I'm putting Junior on the farrier list for NEXT Wednesday and KAT suggests I put front shoes on him. I feel fine with front shoes, it was the back that caused him to strike. I know it was probably a bad shoe job, but still makes me want to just try the front and see how that goes. I did re-treat his front left again for thrush. It seems to be gone in the other three.

    My plan is to be there on Wednesday for the trim/shoeing so I can talk to the guy, but next Wednesday might be crazy busy and prevent me from doing so. I will try, though.

  6. Ditto to what the others said... My horse is barefoot and we went 8-10 weeks in the winter and we go down to 6 in the nice weather. The farrier doesn't trim alot every six weeks, some trims it is just a rasp of the edges to keep the shape and he trims the sole/bars back a bit. Kinda depends on the horse, I guess!

    Glad that your rides are going well! I hope you get some pics of you and Junior at the show...