Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Feet and Tails

Yesterday, Aiden got the day off. When Brian rode him on Monday, he seemed fatigued, and also stamped his feet when the cinch came up. We've been riding these guys really light, but there's no getting around the fact that neither one of them has worn a saddle for years.

Brian did a light ride on Oliver followed by a ride on Bear. I rode Steen and Laredo.

Today, though, it was time for the farrier to come.

One thing that is great about these guys is they remain ultra friendly. After having to teach our last couple of horses how to be caught, I must admit it's pretty pleasant not to have embark on that journey with these two. They are always happy to see you.

Today, they were in separate areas of the pasture when we went out to get them. This is the first time that's happened. Aiden was tucked up against the windblock between Tate and a new horse whose name I can't remember. Oliver was at a bale. So I think that's a good sign. Hopefully their attachment to each other will naturally decrease as they realize they now have the opportunity to socialize with other horses.

Indoors, I discovered Aiden was a little off on the right hind. It didn't seem like much, but standing around he would cock that leg a lot, and doing work on the circle he seemed ok at the walk, but got a little limp going at the trot.

The farrier was late, which meant we had a while to hang around. After a small amount of groundwork and a lot of grooming, I took the opportunity to tackle Oliver's tail. Aiden's, unfortunately, proved to be unsalvageable. After my efforts on it last week, he managed to break the strands that were still attached at the top, and the massive mat pulled out on its own.

With Oliver, though, we had more success. Today I spent over an hour brushing out the matts. He was amazingly willing to put up with this. He never got bothered the entire time. In the end, I had brushed out a sizable pile of shed hairs, but the bulk of the tail was intact. Yay!

Duke arrived right when I finished on Oliver's tail. He assured me I had done the right thing taking Oliver's toes down myself, and gave me another little lesson on the kind of trimming I can do while being certain not to do any damage.

Both Oliver and Aiden were gentlemen with their feet, and Duke found the cause of Aiden's offness. He's got a little crack in the footbed along the inside base of his right hind. Duke took that side of the foot down a little extra to take the pressure off, and said he didn't think it would be a long-term problem, but if he wasn't moving better in a week or so, we could considering putting a shoe on that foot until it grows out. He also said he didn't think it was anything that was likely to recur, just a result of having too much flare on the edges of his feet for too long.

He also said both horses have good feet. He was particularly complimentary about Oliver's.

After the trim, we gave them both a snack. Aiden was standing better after the trim, but still a bit sore heading back out to the pasture. Hopefully he heals up quickly.


  1. Oh yeah, I remember combing that huge mat out of Tranikla's mane after bringing him out. Most of it was just dead, matted, hair, but his mane was definitely a bit scant there for awhile.

    I'm curious why you haven't tried the hackmore on Aiden and Oliver, given their bit issues? Not saying it's a long term solution, but might help you get past the mouth and to the brain/feet.

    Do you have a plan for Aiden and Oliver? Or just kinda see how things go?

  2. It's interesting how some horses seem more prone to having the dead hair build up like that.

    There are a few reasons we haven't ridden Aiden and Oliver in the hackamore. One is that I still feel safer with a bit. Both of them are pretty mellow, but if one blew up (like Oliver did when Brian was doing groundwork with him the other day -- the details are on Brian's blog) I'm still more effective at handling that kind of situation if I have a bit. Some people are capable of using the hackamore just as effectively, but I don't think I'm quite there yet. For me, I still need to trust the horse a little more before I'm going to want to climb on in a hackamore.

    Another reason is to do with their future. We are probably not going to keep either of them long term, so we will help them more by teaching them to be comfortable with a bit, since that is most likely what a future owner would use.

    Finally, we know they were both ridden most recently in a mechanical hackamore, with shanks that exerted leverage-enhanced pressure on the sensitive nose bones. So its entirely possible they are just as (or more) reactive to pressure on the nose as they are to pressure in the mouth.

    As far as our plan for them, we're not 100% sure. Our original intention was to only buy one, but when we met them it seemed better all around to take them both. However, we can't really board five horses for any length of time, which means one is going to have to move on in the near future. Most likely, this will be Oliver. He is the more settled and healthier of the two, and I think we could find him a home appropriate for the state he's in now.

    The one we don't rehome, we'll likely keep for six months to a year, then try to find a good home for when we feel like we've got him to a place that he can be successful after he leaves us.

    But, we don't know for sure. It's all kind of in flux. I wish we could just keep them all. But sadly, that's not really feasible.

    1. Ah that makes sense about the mechanical hackmore. I guess I've just had horses blow past a bit like it wasn't even there enough times that I don't really feel like it gives me anything more.

      And yeah, I hear you about not being able to keep them all. I think either of them would probably make a good "boyfriend horse", which I'd kinda like to get at some point. I just have to keep reminding myself that there will be other horses when I'm actually ready to get another one. :)

  3. I think that since the hackamore is really just a bluff, keeping them in a bit is probably a good idea!

    Do you use Cowboy Magic when you detangle manes/tails? We kind of go through it like it's candy in our barn, but during summer months we might handle 10-12 horses/day. It's the bomb diggity.

    it sounds like you're having fun with the new additions!

    1. We do typically use Cowboy Magic. In this case we also used a detangler the barn manager swears by (I forget what it was called). On Aiden's tail we also tried something the barn owner handed us. Everyone was really keen to help the situation by loaning us their favorite product. lol

    2. Well, that's good! We also use an avocado based detangler that's pretty dang awesome too. I've witnessed the cutting out of tangled tail before. It makes a person want to cry so I feel your pain!


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