Please remember!

The information presented on this blog represents "learning in progress" on my part, a horse owner, who was not satisfied with professional farriers and took matters in my own hands. As far as I am aware at the time of the post, the information presented is correct, but may change with me understanding more about hooves, in which case I will edit or remove the post. In order to follow my learning and understand everything about Molly's hoof, you need to start reading at the bottom.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I may finally know what Pete Ramey is talking about

I think everybody who is seriously interested in hoof care has studied Pete Ramey. The one aspect he is most often cited for is: "if some part of the hoof that has just been trimmed grows back quickly, the hoof needs it and should be left alone".

For me, this principle was, and still is, hard to apply. Since everything on the hoof grows, how I am supposed to know which growth is important for the hoof and which one isn't?

In any case, I have described in my previous post how I used to trim the bars. I basically forced them to merge with the frog at the bottom of the collateral groove. The problem for me was always how to treat this transition between bar and sole. In order for me to trim the bars such they would meet the frog at the bottom of the collateral groove, I really needed to thin out the area at the end of the bars. My horses always developed cracks and holes there, I think as a consequence.

Now, just accidentally, I took a picture of Molly's feet 4 weeks after I had trimmed that transition between bar and sole. The picture below shows how Molly grew her bars, and the area of sole just in front of them, within 4 weeks. She has grown the sole up straight from the bottom of the collateral groove to meet the bars in one long and straight line. There is no crack, or no bar "migrated" or overlaying, the collateral groove side of the sole just grew straight up. Importantly, this is how Molly is sound on hard ground, and this is also how she can maintain a stronger heel (I used to also often have cracks in the seat of corn). And this is pretty much the only significant change in 4 weeks.

So maybe this satisfies Pete Ramey's definition of a structure that is needed for comfort, at least at this given time and stage the hoof is in. I have now, for the first time NOT trimmed that extension of the bars off and will see how the foot develops. For some reason all this looks much more natutral to me than this sharp transition between bar and sole as one can see on the left part of the picture, which is how I had left the foot 4 weeks before.

I should point out that my horses do live on soft and (often) wet ground. Maybe this has something to do with how the bars, and the sole in front of them, grow. Gus grows his bars and sole in exactly the same way.

I will wait and see what happens next.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Molly has a bitless bridle

And it is wonderful! I decided to get the BBB (Barefoot Bitless Bridle). It is made in the Netherlands, I had it shipped to Germany and then on to the US for EUR 3.45.- (shipping).

I just tried it and Molly LOVED it. It was funny, when I used it just so slightly, I noticed how Molly was getting ready to put in some resistance, but then she realized it was only the soft noseband that gave the signal and no metal in the mouth and she relaxed. It was just like a reflex to show resistance at first. I had to hardly touch that bridle, I do hardly have to touch the bitted bridle, but I definitely feel more resistance in the bit than without. Molly collected just the same as with the bit, only for short stretches at a time, but she is not used to work collected for more than a few minutes at a time.

I like the design, the noseband is soft and broad, it has a nice padding between two sheets of leather and the chin piece is made of some sturdy rubber in a double layer, so also has a "give". Overall, I am very happy and probably will never use anything else. It just feels so good to not have to put a metal piece in the mouth.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Molly has learned the pleasures of sharing

I must say it is such a joy to see my two horses together. It took them soooooo long to really become good friends and partners in good and bad times. Molly used to be very protective of her food and also would not let Gus come close to her. Instead, she would threaten him to bite or kick. But she is actually pretty harmless when it comes to really going through with aggression. Just in contrast to Gus, every time when Molly did her little scary behavior he totally over-reacted and went straight into fight mode, scaring Molly. So there was always this tension between them. He does, however, absolutely not mind sharing food with her. So here I had this weird set of horses, that just did not seem to understand each other for almost 1 year.

Luckily all this is over for some years now, but I do still remember the first year, when nothing really seemed to work between them. Gus is now just ignoring Molly's little attacks (which she hardly ever does anymore) and Molly has understood Gus will share anything with her. She can even eat the hay out of his mouth if she wants to. She is imitating Gus in a lot of ways and Gus gets the "quiet vibe" from her allowing his mind to settle down. For example, she never used to drink out of puddles, since Gus likes doing that, she does that too now.  They have become such a perfect couple, complementing each other in every respect.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

first day on pasture

This was an exciting day for me and my horses. My friend and neighbor made it possible: my horses could go on pasture!! On my sand dune, there is not much grass growing, plus the ground is so sandy and I wanted my horses to experience clay soil. So today was the first try. I was a bit nervous because it requires to walk the horses for about 5 minutes on the road, which is a very quiet road but still some car comes once in a while. It also requires them to pass lawn mowers, garbage cans,  mail boxes, windmills and my other neighbors 13 horses, etc. On the way there we did not encounter a car, Gus walked swiftly ahead and Molly followed a bit slower, but not less excited. When we reached, there was all this grass. Gus, being a Texan boy, has never seen so much grass in one spot. It reached to the horse's bellies. However, interestingly enough, the horses had not so much interest in the grass, but the neighbor's horses. They all came cantering lining up on their part of the fence and mine on our part of the fence. Next thing that happened Molly showed she was in heat and would have SO much liked to go over there and see if there is a nice little stallion for her. So for the next hour or so, she just stood right there at the fence ignoring the grass for the most part, and Gus could not go away, because he had to protect her. I don't think he quite understood why they had to stay so close to the fence, instead of eating all the nice grass!

Roughly 4 h later, it was time to go back. Horses had given up their position on the fence, though were still very close to he neighbors horses. We were worried about too much grass on the first day, though the grass was passed bloom and stemmy. Still my horses are not used to so much grass. It was easy to catch Molly but Gus did not want to be caught at first. Unfortunately for him, we had Molly so he could not go anywhere else. Then something interesting happened. I finally reached him grabbed his halter, which we had left on (wisely :-)!) and I wanted to attach my white rope. When Gus saw the rope, he jerked his head away and ran. This is exactly the reaction I had gotten 3 years ago when Gus came new to me, he was deeply scared of that white rope. I had spent about 6 months desensitizing him to that rope, and for the past 2 1/2 years he had never been afraid of it anymore, we use it every day. But today, he had a short blackout when he saw the rope. I also know why, at least I think so.

When he was in so called "training" (4 years ago, before he came to me), the trainer had tried to force Gus into submission by tying his legs (Gus was a difficult horse to train, because the trainer misunderstood him totally). I did not whitnessed it, nor did his previous owner, all I know is hat when his previous owner realized what happened during his "training", and took him out of there, he had rope burns on his legs. I think Gus, today in this short moment of being in a new unfamiliar place, with unfamilar sounds, he had this flashback of the rope incidence 4 years ago in Texas. There is just no other explanation why he behaved like this. Of course right after he ran away he realized his mistake and came straight back (to where Molly was) and let me put the rope on without any problem. But this shows just how long horses remember bad things happening to them.

But anyway, on the way home, we even encountered the UPS truck! We managed to get into a drive way and let it pass without any incidence, I distracted Gus with a carrot and had his head facing away from the truck. This way he hardly noticed. And Molly does not do anything anyway, as long as the other horse does not do anything.

Once reaching home, the horses were so tired within one minute they placed themselves in their sleeping corner and fell asleep. They did quite a bit of running on the pasture, with all the new sounds and the other horses in particular! Horses are just so highly social animals...