The past week has been filled with introspection fueled by some frustrations. It's possible the the Big-Boot-Purchase-of-2013 was potentially driven by some desire to control some controllables (though seeing as how I still don't have a shipping confirmation I'm not sure how "in control" I am..). I suppose that I'll take refuge in the fact that when I need to control something I buy pretty boots as opposed to something more self destructive. (it's all relative right??)
Anyway, nothing is overly tragic but I was doing some soul searching after we got home from the show and was trying to recalibrate my compass in terms of goals, process, etc.
The most tangible example of this is Prairie's feet. I put shoes on her because she was foot sore and I didn't want foot sore to turn into body sore, or for foot sore to bring our training to a total halt. Of course I left her hinds bare which was still strange enough that I heard multiple comments about it at the show. Specifically people were concerned whether or not she had enough traction behind. The big Hunter ring did get over watered and the sand turned into slick mud and Prair was not a fan. I suppose shoes would have given her a bit more purchase on the sandy-mud-slime but I reacted negatively to the suggestion. I don't think I said anything out loud but inside I was growling a bit. Especially as I watched other (fully shod) horses slip-sliding around as well.
Thinking about whether or not I was being responsible about Prairie's hind feet led me to thinking about what I wanted with her front feet and what was driving my horse management decisions. Did I put shoes on so I didn't miss any shows? if that was the case what else would I be willing to comprimise on, pain killers to mask discomfort? sedatives if it would mean better scores? Kneecapping the competition? I joke a little but I can often feel my primary goal of progression (both at home and at shows) cloud my judgement however minimally.
It (should) all come back to my basic guiding principle that I want to do what's right by my horse and what gives them the best chance of long term soundness
When I put front shoes on Prair I justified it because I was worried she would negatively impact her body trying to protect her toes (a la the great rein lameness of 2012). Also I blamed myself for not anticipating the soft squishy soles that tend to come with spring rain and lush grass. Now that it's "summer" and at least less wet than it usually is, I have a chance to pull her shoes off and return her to her lovely nakedness.
So I pulled the shoes... And the mare is SORE.
Shoes came off on Friday. She was a little footy over the gravel on Sat, but sound in the ring so I rode (and gave her some bute). Sunday she was more sore so I only walked around in the arena, but even after hopping off she seemed uncomfortable standing in the sand/rubber and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I don't know how long I'll be able to stare at her standing uncomfortably before freaking out and calling my farrier.
I feel guilty that her once beautifully rock hard feet are now all ouchy and used to shoes. I feel antsy that I look like a bad mother with a crippled horse which makes its even harder to defend my decision to those who are not used to seeing barefoot sporthorses. And I'm having to think about where the line is between staying the course and working through the transition versus deciding that shoes are a better option for the current situation.
I know that the recent days of rain aren't helping toughen Prair's soles and neither is the gorgeous pasture that she just got moved to. Thus far I've just been giving 1g of bute and applying Hoof Freeze once a day. I'm totally willing to cancel our next two outings (schooling show this weekend, A show middle of July) if need be, but I don't want the mare to be uncomfortable or for us to be out of work any longer than that.
The concern voiced by those around me definitely makes me feel a bit more stressed about the decision. It's not that it's peer pressure per se, but it's hard to stand on a soapbox and tout my righteous decision when I'm secretly jogging the mare out behind the barn in hopes that no one else will see her mincing her steps...
It's not a tragic situation, but it really does highlight what my priorities are (or should be). It's easy to skip a schooling show here or there, but at what point do I compromise on what I think of as a long term health decision so that I get to "use" my horse, versus letting showing/riding goals slide versus a legitimate argument that I might not have the right environment to support a transition right now. In that case there is no glory in letting the mare be uncomfortable.. but where are the respective lines?
Argh. Very stressful. Hate hate hate.
Would love that magic wand now so I can just hocus-pocus her feet back to where they were in January.