Monday, December 17, 2012

Toe Trimming Trip

Thursday's Field Trip to Summer Camp was a uneventful (in the good sense) success.  I feel like when horses are involved, uneventful is usually a good thing.  And when trailering horses is involved, uneventful is always a good thing.

Since everyone else seemed to be working on a Thursday, I couldn't con anyone into making the trip with me, but I did manage to get my dad excited about helping me load the mares up.  Mind you, he hasn't loaded a horse of any sort into a trailer since the 90's so he was eager to help, but a bit... rusty on how to apply helpful pressure from behind.

Luckily the most protest that Prairie lodges is a 60 second "right to sniff" before she walks herself on the trailer.  Pia was the wild card.  She's been fabulous in Cowboy Man's stock trailer, but has only loaded in a straight load once, and it can look a little more claustrophobic especially with a big giant mare already in one stall.

Shouldn't have worried though.  Pia caught sight of the hay bag and damn near trotted up the ramp.  Good little Squirrel.

Then we were off. Me in my gorgeous new truck and the girls in their adorable matching plaid coolers.  (I think we can safely say that if I ever end up with twins, or multiple children of any sort really.. that they will be dressed in coordinated if not matching outfits regularly).

I managed to miss most of the rush hour traffic and made the trip in an easy three hours.  Both girls walked off the trailer politely, stood nicely in the barn while we unwrapped then let them go get their wiggles out in the arena before the toe trimming commenced. 

We started with Pia, and talked about how he's been shoeing her.  The answer is that she is in regular Eventer shoes, set just slightly wider than her own hoof wall (but with a ground down bevel to keep her from pulling them off).  The Natural Balance shoes are just a tad too square for her these days and a tad too short in the length. 
Prairie waiting (mostly) patiently for her turn
CM has been really focuses on getting P as much heel support as possible and keeping her trim cycle short enough that he catches her heels before they start to curl in or collapse.  So far it's working.  It might mean that I have to haul her to Camp for trims every 5 weeks for a while, but I think that's doable.

Both P's just stood and snacked while we worked on their toes.  Pia's feet look awesome.  Her angles are good, her heels are finally starting to widen and all in all they getting a bit cuppier and starting to round out rather than looking like long drawn out ovals.
Prairie started to lose interest and began playing with her tongue..

After P1, we took a break for lunch and put the girls out in pasture to fart around and sniff at the herd over the fence.  Both of the mares were super social, super playful and super relaxed.  P showed no stress at returning to her old stomping grounds and immediately sniffed at all of her old friends.  Especially her boyfriends.

Prairie took the back seat and stayed behind Pia when dealing with the herd which is the only time I've ever seen her defer to P1.  Then they both (obviously) found a muddy hole to go squirm around in like hippos before coming back to the barn for Prairie's feet.

All in all I was relieved to get a big thumb's up from CM on how Prairie's feet are doing.  I wasn't concerned about anything but I have not-so-secret fears that I'm going to screw something up drastically and end up snapping my mare's tendons with a bad trim.  Not likely I know, but some humility and terror seems prudent.

What I wanted help on was assessing Prairie's bars and how much to trim them.  I haven't been worried about them because they aren't particularly large and have never protruded or folded over on me.  CM did point out that on her hinds they are big enough to make contact with the ground and could be producing pressure points.  So we scooped those out, talked a bit about her heels and then we were done. 

Easy Peasy.

Since I had a little time before I needed to be back on the road, we took the mares down to the arena for some ground work.   Over lunch we had been discussing the challenges and successes with both mares on the ground and CM brought up the notion of working them together.

(two mares!? at once!? god help me).

He set the ring up for our classic leading exercise which entails having snack buckets placed along the rail all around the ring.  Then we walk asking the mare to heel nicely at our shoulder and when we want to stop we exhale deeply and raise our arms as a physical signal.  Both P1 and P2 are very good at this game, but the refresher was more to remind them that it was listening time and not smell-everything-and-obsess-about-the-herd-time. 

Then CM grabbed both leads and proceeded to take both mares around the ring, stopping and starting, getting nice mouthfuls of snack when they were good girls. 
starting out... They were lagging a bit but tightened up
Halting and having to soften toward CM before a reward.
Annnnd then heads down into their snack bowls.
Pia was a stud.  But she has way more experience in being worked alongside another horse than Prairie does.  Prairie doesn't like traffic of any sort or to be too pressed up against fences or walls or anything.  Also, her response to being too closed in (physically or by a crowd) is to just bust forward into a roomier space. 

She tried this a few times when she didn't want to stand nicely between Pia and the rail, but CM just directed his body language at Pia to stay put and added pressure to Prairie until she put herself back in the correct position. 

He explained that what he didn't want to do is take Pia out of her correct position in order to get Prairie back where she needed to be.  By doing that he let Prairie be someone what charge of what was happening instead of him behaving more or less like a lead mare.  It was pretty cool to watch. 

For anyone who has seen the liberty acts from someone like Sylvia Zerbini, my mind is pretty much consistently blown at how one is able to direct different horses different things at the same time. 

The closest I get is being able to shoo one mare away from the gate while I coax the other out the smallest possible opening when I need to bring them  in from pasture....

Anyway.  It wasn't a difficult exercise and by the end CM was easily walking, trotting and halting with both mares at his shoulder.  Prairie had a hard time with tight turns when she was on the inside and needed to really slow down but it was pretty cool to see each of them rate their speed so that they maintained their correct shoulder positioning..  

That was the end of the day, and the haul home was equally easy. 

two matching P''s in a pod!


  1. They look super cute in their matching coolers!

    Where did you learn to trim feet yourself? I feel like it would be great to be able to do my own horse's shoes, although I agree with you that I'd be constantly worried about screwing it up!

    1. I started taking lessons from my vet (who's a bio-mechanic/hoofcare specialist) at her insistence. Prairie has very straight forward feet which makes her easy to learn on, but it's been really educational and tuned me in to how the changes in her feet affect her way of going. i love it!

  2. Man, Prairie is gorgeous, eh? I can just stare at her face in the first picture. What a pretty girl.

  3. Love the two p's in a pod photo :D you have some gorgeous ponies.

  4. I love that last picture! Two P's in a pod! Too cute! :D I'm glad everything went well.


Related Posts with Thumbnails