Barefoot - One Month Mark


It's been a rough month, but we've made it!

Quick recap:
    • Fiction started off fine for the first week or so.
    • In the second week he became incredibly ouchy.
    • Third week we had boots on him for a while - it helped relieve his ouchiness
    • Fourth week back to no boots - is weight bearing on front feet and seems relatively comfortable.
We celebrated one month with a foot trim!

I forgot to take pictures until after I had already doused his feet in Durasole - sorry!
Look at that paint skill.
My new barefoot farrier trimmed up Fiction's back feet (left on a little extra just in case he needs it right now with his tender front feet), and smoothed up his front feet. She went a bit short on the right front to get rid of a crack that would have gotten worse. But she didn't touch his heels or soles (as he's currently using those for quite a bit of support right now). As a result his feet are a bit boxy, but that will improve.

We'll continue our Keratex + Durasole 5x+ a week regimen for the foreseeable future. I'm riding him at the walk now (booted) a couple of times a week.

I'm transitioning him back onto Exceed 6-Way + an extra biotin supplement. I've never had luck with hoof supplements, but it was cheap and I figured why not. The foot he is growing now is quite strong, but it doesn't hurt to try and help it out a bit - especially with him stomping at all the flies.


Fancy Pony Lesson


Last Tuesday the BO was awesome enough to offer me her horse Merlin as a catch-ride for a lesson. Merlin is a Friesian mix who is wider than he is tall. He is super lazy and dead to the leg, but very fancy and definitely knows his stuff.

My saddle just barely fit him, and right after I got on, Instructor had me drop my stirrups two holes (Jan helped!). She essentially said that on Fiction my stirrups need to be shorter to better control him, whereas Merlin knows his stuff, isn't crazy, and needs a longer leg anyways because of how broad he is.

The lesson was simple - we concentrated on me.

Primarily, we concentrated on keeping my legs loose and my ankles soft. On Fiction I tense up and contract my legs while simultaneously jamming my heel down. This keeps me from actually being able to use my full leg - from thigh to ankle (and causes the muscles on the inside of my thigh to permanently tighten - I definitely need to do more stretching to counteract this). It also causes me to shift my weight backwards into a driving seat, which is exactly what Fiction doesn't need.

So, on Merlin, we primarily maintained a circle and emphasized keeping my legs super soft, shifting my weight forward more onto my crotch, and keeping forward movement with soft hands. Some bullet points for my reference:

    • Keep ankles soft. Instructor told me that ideally she wants me to get to a spot where my foot is basically parallel to the ground and I can feel the stirrup lightly on the ball of my foot. However, she doesn't want me to ever feel like I'm reaching for the stirrup.
    • To bring the horse to a halt, shift my pelvis forward, as if I'm jamming my crotch into the pommel of the saddle, and sit deeper. This prevents me from falling back and accidentally driving the horse forward.
    • Concentrate on lateral work via the thigh instead of the calf/leg. This helps prevent my ankle/leg from locking up.
    • On a circle, whatever the inside rein takes, the outside rein should give.
    • Think about wrapping my arms around a beachball - that is how my arms should be while riding. This keeps my elbows bent and my hands up.

Someone did get new booties though.
It was a very productive ride. Instructor told me she wants me to continue to ride Merlin in lessons if possible, even if Fiction becomes sound enough for a lesson. She thinks riding experienced horses will give me time to work on myself so that I can learn to apply myself better when riding my horse. I agree.


Boots Blow-out



So on Saturday I went for another trail ride with Jan & G. Fiction was sound. It was awesome.

Until we went for a canter up a hill and he ripped both of his boots off/completely shredded them. Grrrr.

Luckily EasyCare has a 30 day money back guarantee, so I was able to get new boots on the way on Monday and they arrived on Wednesday.

I also noticed how soft his feet were getting in the boots. He's turned out in them, so he spends about 16 hours or so in boots a day. They have been keeping his feet too soft. After his first night back out without boots, he came in super tender.

I wrapped both of his feet and two days later he seemed completely normal again. Ouchy on gravel, of course, and not 100% sound, but far better than before. His feet had also hardened up again. So I made the decision that he'll be turned out without boots for a long as he can tolerate (as long as he doesn't start rocking back again/falling on me/refusing to pick up his feet/seem to be in horrible pain) and will be booted only for riding.

In a few weeks he'll have enough foot for shoes, if I decide to go back to them.

Hunting Pokemon with the pups.
I have to keep telling myself that I don't miss showing and that the money it is saving me is wonderful. I also have to keep telling myself that the muscle Fiction is dropping is redeemable. Everything is fine :)

In the mean time, I've been riding & taking lessons on other horses. It's a nice change!


Back in the Saddle


After my little freak out over Fiction's feet last weekend, he assured me that he was OK by cantering around in turnout on Monday with just one boot and a wrapped foot.

On Tuesday his other boot finally came in. I went out and hand walked him on concrete for 20 minutes. He was actually pretty sound.

He's lost some muscle but gained some weight, so even trade off.
I went out again on Thursday after he had a chance to spend two full turn outs in his boots with pads. He was weight bearing on his front feet and walking relatively normally, so I put his boots back on, tacked him up, and went for a trail ride.

Aside from a few small bobbles, Fiction was fine. He was a bit jumpy though, which was probably because he hadn't been out on the trails in nearly three weeks.

On the way back we stopped by the pigs. Fiction actually got curious enough to try and sniff the big boar, but wasn't too happy when the boar tried to say hello.

Finished up with a light sponge bath.

Since he has vastly improved, we're going to start riding again. I hope to be back to lessons here shortly, but not until he is comfortable at the walk, trot, and canter.


Not Quite a Crash


And our barefoot journey continues.

Fiction was in quite a good deal of pain on Thursday. As I walked him for 25+ minutes on concrete, he stumbled and shuffled along. He refused to pick up his left front and put pressure on his right front. He kept leaning back to alleviate pressure on his front feet. It was surprising, as on Tuesday and Wednesday he had seemed completely fine.

So, of course, I somewhat panicked and reached out to the barefoot farrier I'm working with, who assured me she would be there on Friday evening to help me out.

Meanwhile, his boots finally came in. Easyboot Gloves just didn't fit, so I went with Epics. Riding Warehouse had been out of size 2s when I ordered (I got their last one), so I had also picked up two size 3s.

Size two on the left (front right), size 3 on the right (front left)
Friday night he was still in bad shape, but a bit better than Thursday. We padded the boots with foam and then tossed them on him. And BAM instant relief. He started walking normally again.

Unfortunately, the size 3 did end up being way too big and came off during the night. His second size 2 should be in today. So, in the meantime, I padded his left foot (the better foot) with some gauze, a diaper, and wrapped it. His right foot will continue to be booted with the size 2.

Meanwhile, I've been trail riding this pony.
I checked on him last night. No heat in his feet. Pulse is fine. No swelling in the legs. He's weight bearing on both fronts and is no longer resisting picking up either foot. He's also walking much better, even when not in boots.

The problem basically stemmed from the fact that he didn't get the best barefoot start. We should have pulled his shoes when he had about 6 weeks of growth from his last shoeing, but instead he only had 2 weeks and was just too short to deal. Plus, I was unprepared and didn't have boots in for him. I feel awful about it, but a bit relieved now that we've sorted out the problem. He's definitely happier too.

He'll be booted for a few days and then the plan is to Equicast him for one cycle. After the cycle, he should have enough hoof grown to where we can decide if we want to go back to shoes or if he is going to be fine with being barefoot.

With how well he responded to being booted, I have hope that he should be rideable (booted or casted) within a week or two - if only at the walk. Tomorrow will mark two weeks since we pulled his front shoes.


Product Reviews #1


I'm going to make these short and sweet.

Amigo Mio Combo Flysheet

Note: Wet spots are not sweat - I hosed him off prior to throwing the sheet on.
 I have a love-hate relationship with this sheet.

    • Pros:
      • Very lightweight. Fiction sweats super easily and this sheet is perfect for 90+ degree hot and humid weather.
      • Works well. Flies don't seem to bother him at all AND as a plus, it keeps away his hives and skin fungus.
      • Dries quickly.
      • Doesn't really hold dirt.
      • Neck holds up without being attached to a fly mask.
      • I love the fit and the double velcro/twist clasps in the front as opposed to buckles that Fiction always destroys.
    • Cons:
      • Material snags easily, especially on its own velcro.
      • He destroyed it in a month. Definitely not a super hardy sheet.
      • Neck piece is not detachable. This is not a con for me but may be for some people.

I managed to pick two of these up from SmartPak when they were on sale for like $55 a piece. They are not worth any more than that. Seriously. The price jumped back up to $75 and I scoffed at it. This sheet is recommended if you 1) Can find it for $50 or less, 2) have a horse that is easy on blankets OR if your horse desperately needs something super light weight because of temps/sweating.

I'll keep using these as long as I can find them on sale because they do the trick, comes with a neck piece, and they keep Fiction cool even in really hot/humid weather. Eventually I might splurge on something that will be a bit more durable, but until then, the Mio does the trick and I love the fit!

Kensington Natural Fly Boots

    • Pros:
      • Stay on.
      • Made of very nice material and hold up well.
      • Do not retain dirt.
      • Do not appear to rub.
      • They work.
      • Do not retain heat.
    • Cons
      • None

I love these boots. I specifically picked these because the other Kensington boots have fleece and I specifically didn't want fleece. Supposedly they come in specific horse colors to prevent horses from messing with them, but I screwed up and bought Grey boots for my bay horse. Oh well. Doesn't seem to matter. I got them for $23.95 from Riding Warehouse and I would say they are worth the price.

DSB Dressage Sport Boots

    • Pros:
      • Don't rub.
      • Don't rotate.
      • Nice construction.
      • Cheap.
      • Many pretty colors.
    • Cons:
      • Not very well ventilated.
      • Easily infiltrated by sand.
      • Harder to clean (requires washing machine vs easy spray off).
      • Do not age well.

These are relatively cheap. I got mine on sale from RW for about $35/pair. They are currently listed for about $42/pair. This price increase is enough for me to hem and haw over ever buying them again, honestly. And I already have plans to replace them with Majyk Equipe boots when I get some extra cash. The outside of the boots is made of this meh material that is already cracking/breaking apart and I haven't had them very long/I've only washed them twice or so. They can look pretty ratty relatively quickly. That being said, they're not bad boots and the fleece is nice for sensitive horses.


Busy Weekend


Unfortunately, the fit kit I ordered was a size too big for Fiction's feet. I ordered another fit kit in a size that should be appropriate, but delivery has been delayed due to the holiday. So he has to go without boots for a little longer, which means no real riding.

So instead we've been going for walks on the concrete. It takes him a while, but once he is warmed up he looks almost 100% fine.

On Monday one of the BOs taught me how to rasp and round Fiction's feet. The foot on the left (Fiction's right front) he did as an example. I did the foot on the right (his left front). I left a little bit too much of the toe, but I'll work on it again. Fiction wasn't cooperating - he doesn't like putting all of his weight on his front right at this moment.

After we were done, Fiction actually started walking better. According to the BO, the previous farrier hadn't rounded Fiction's feet enough for starting the transition to barefoot, probably because doing so removes all ability to tack on shoes for a while. Which, for now, is fine, since we don't intend to go back to shoes.
As for riding, I did hop on Fiction for a bit in the indoor. We worked on leg yields at the walk for about 10 minutes. He was a good boy but kept spooking at the open gate on the far side.

A few days ago I borrowed Shawnee, a small, stout paint pony/horse (not sure if he's actually pony sized, but he's darn close), for a bareback trail ride.

We got drizzled on a bit, and Shawnee spooked pretty badly at a deer, but I stayed on and had a great ride. It made me yearn for a rock-solid horse like my last two. A horse you can just get on and go. I joked with Jan and said that Shawnee was the type of horse that could get you through the apocalypse while Fiction would keel over and die haha.

Our fearless leader :P

My 4th of July was pretty uneventful - that is until I headed for the barn. I was pulling out of my driveway when I saw two large pit bull-like dogs running full blast down the middle of the street. I managed to cut them off, nabbed them, called the police (only people available during the holiday) and they ran the license number on one of the dogs. I had them successfully reunited in about an hour!

They were super sweet.
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend, or just a great weekend in general!