Rock Cruncher?

Finally, a horse post for my horse readers. 

About six weeks ago, the horses were moved into a different paddock with two new buddies, MuMu and Mali.

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This paddock is BIG – three or four acres.  The water is at one end and the shelter and hay feeders are at the other, so the horses have to walk to and fro, which is ideal for barefoot hooves.

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There is a variety of terrain – flat alpine meadows…

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gravelly stretches…

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and  rocky outcrops…

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all ideal for exposing barefoot hooves to a variety of surfaces.

The rain has finally stopped and the ground has dried out, and I’ve seen a big change in Flurry and Aero’s hooves as a result of the new pasture and the weather.

Eric the farrier was out last week.  What with visitors and my trip to Ireland, it was at least three weeks since I had touched either horses’ hooves, so I said “yes please” when I was asked if I wanted him to do The Boys.

He was really pleased with Flurry.  He trimmed him alright, but he said his feet were great and gave them a big thumbs up.

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Then it was Aero’s turn.  Aero was mostly good too, but I think I need to keep on top of them better than I have been.  There’s a little white line stretching going on, and at the toe of one of his hind feet, there is grit starting to work its way in, making it stretch even more.  Even worse, though, is that bloody abscess that plagued us last summer.  It had almost grown out, but because there was a great big hole inside his hoof, it’s now collecting grit as well, keeping the white line open and stretched at that point and giving cause for concern.  

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There’s a risk it will get infected once again from the foreign material working its way into the hoof.  Eric pared it right back, but I have to keep it clean and spray it with a tarry substance which I don’t have.  I’m thinking of packing it with Antiphlogistine (a medicated Kaolin paste) instead – I think that will help it stay clean, while allowing it to breathe, move and grow.  Anyone got any thoughts as to whether that would work or not?

The LSH and I rode out a couple of days after Eric’s visit and decided to try them both without hind boots.

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Flurry strode out like a champion, oblivious to the rocky trail, and Aero was excellent, too, although he wasn’t keen on trotting on very rocky ground.  We were both so impressed with Flurry that the LSH stopped half way and removed his front boots.

It made no difference at all  – he continued to stride out boldly.

Two days later, we did a circuit that has a particularly long, rocky stretch.  Flurry was barefoot throughout, although his front boots were hanging from the pommel just in case he needed them.

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I have a theory, rightly or wrongly, that a barefoot horse should be allowed to make his own decisions.  Pick his own way over rocky ground.  Go at his own pace.  This is something that is taking Aero a while to figure out.  All his life, he has pretty much been told where to put his feet and how fast to get them there.  Now he has to figure it out for himself.  He’s learning, but he still makes mistakes and goes “OUCH!,” especially if he gets excited or distracted.

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Flurry has the idea, though.  The LSH didn’t rush or nag him, and he made his way carefully through the worst of the rocky ground with not the slightest hint of an “ouch.”

The rest of the ride was the usual mix of “not too stony…”

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…and fairly stony.

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He marched out confidently the whole way.

Is he finally becoming independent of his boots?

Hoof Photos

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Flurry hind

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Flurry front

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Aero front.  There’s still a long way to go, look how pinched the heels are

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Aero hind. Much better.

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17 thoughts on “Rock Cruncher?

  1. Interesting point about horses picking their own way at their own speed when barefoot. I certainly notice Harley doing that, especially on gravel/rock terrain and later in the summer as things harden up. I may have to boot him up behind.

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    • yeah it is interesting… I’m sure there are some “people out there” who think I’m a big softy for letting them pick their own way and not rushing them along, but they are both honest horses and stride out well when the going is good… I feel it’s a kinder approach…
      We did two hours this morning which was a bit long for them. Flurry was a bit “ouchie” on the last bit which was very rocky.

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    • I’m not sure it proves they’re handling it confidently but I think it’s better to let them make their own mistakes, if you know what I mean?

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  2. Love the progress you have made with your barefoot horses. So amazing! And that new pasture is perfect 🙂
    I have heard great things about the tea tree oil and coconut oil, as well.
    I also nominated you for the fun little Liebster Award. Check it out back at my blog 🙂

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    • I also nominated you for a Liebster Award on my blog – great minds think alike Allison.
      Love this blog – I’m delighted to see their feet looking so well. Do you rasp them yourself normally between farrier visits?

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    • Thanks for the award too, Aoife!
      I do try to rasp their feet every couple of weeks but I’m afraid of going too far and therefore never do enough. I am getting a much better idea of what is “right” tho and I’m hoping to do a better job from now on. I think I could probably look after Flurry myself seeing as he is so straightforward but I’m not so sure about Mr Aero!

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  3. I have had very good success treating separation like Aero has using Tea Tree oil and cotton. Clean the are very well using a nail or such (a nut-pick works great, make sure you clean right down to healthy white line), use a dropper to treat with oil, stuff cotton (from cotton balls) tightly into crevices and saturate with more oil. If the crevice is deep, like Areo’s, the cotton will stay in for weeks if you let it. I generally try to repeat at least once a week until it grows out. As the hoof improves, it will be able to outgrow the crevice.

    One other suggestion about the contracted heels…use your rasp to put a slight bevel on the very back of the heel. It will encourage the heels to de-contract and strengthen the buttresses. It has worked every time I have tried it so far.

    And Flurry’s hooves are beautiful!

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    • Great, thanks! That’s really helpful. I have been looking at Aero’s front heels & frogs and wondering what I can do to help them, I will try bevelling the heels.
      I like the tea tree idea, too. I wonder would juniper oil be the same – I have a bottle of that here!

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