In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

Rain and Remodel

Steely clouds hung over the valley, stark against the emerald curve of our sunlit hill, as I turned into the driveway of In the Night Farm yesterday afternoon. I hurried to change into riding tights and boots, but by the time I had my Stonewall saddle in one hand and my helmet in the other, the grasses outside were whipping in heavy wind. The horses whirled and bucked in their pens as the sunlight faded. The first raindrops turned quickly to hail, spattering their rumps and pinning their ears against lowered heads.

I, too, felt a prickle of irritation. Though comfortable and dry indoors, I hadn’t ridden in 10 days and was eager to put in 11 or 12 miles to leg Aaruba back up for this weekend’s LD races at the Pink Flamingo Classic. I considered going anyway, but stepping aboard a young, fit, fresh horse in the middle of a thunderstorm seemed like a good way to break at least one important body part. Better not to risk it.

Instead, I slid my saddle back onto its rack and printed a copy of my endurance ride packing checklist. Between checks to see whether the storm had passed, I measured beet pulp, Senior feed, oats, and salt. I gathered electrolytes, vet kit, and extra Easyboots. (Incidentally, one of my new Bares arrived in a very attractive, silver tin not unlike the ones that usually contain Christmas cookies. I wonder if this is Easycare’s new, standard packaging. I hope so!) I packed Wyrsa’s dog food and miscellaneous supplies and was about to head for the kitchen to brew a batch of marinara to take along when the sun reappeared and the wind let up.

7:00 arrived cool and breezy, but sunny. I retrieved my saddle and headed out to catch Aaruba. Soggy and bedraggled, he was expecting dinner and made his displeasure known when I bridled him instead of serving up his usual bucket of beet pulp and oats. However, a few laps around the round corral warmed and cheered him. I grabbed a hoof pick and Easyboot…only to discover this apparently overgrown hoof!

That hoof was trimmed and mustang rolled just 11 days ago. Travis and I noted at the time that Aaruba’s soles looked just about ready to slough away. This is part of the natural remodeling process that takes place as a barefoot horse adapts. Aaruba’s hoof walls have been a bit too long and somewhat flared for months now, but we couldn’t trim them back as much as we wanted to until his sole receded. Paring away the sole with a hoof knife is a bad idea, as it is a weight bearing structure and is necessary to protect the delicate, inner structures of the hoof until they adjust to extended barefoot work.

With the flexible protection of his Easyboots to prevent overwearing of his hoof walls during many miles of conditioning on hard and rocky surfaces, Aaruba’s coffin bone has drawn up and his live sole remodeled at last. The old sole, no longer needed, fell away while we were away on vacation, so now the wall can now be trimmed back to its appropriate length, thereby eliminating the flare. Here is the same hoof, post-trim.

The hoof wall is still too long, some flare remains, and the balance isn’t perfect yet. We’re waiting now for the sensitive laminae, or “quick” to recede so the wall can be further shortened. This transition phase isn’t ideal for the weekend’s races, but the trimming process (mostly rasping, actually) isn’t painful and this ride features excellent footing. At this point, I anticipate riding with Easyboots in front and bare hooves behind, and we shouldn’t have any trouble.

Having spent our riding time on hoof work, Aaruba and I celebrated his remodel with half an hour of dancing in the round corral. His endurance and balance at the canter have improved dramatically in the past six weeks, as we’ve introduced faster under-saddle work and a few, extended canters on the lunge.

When we finished, I paused to admire the network of blood vessels standing out on his sweaty shoulder. This is one way in which the equine body adapts to increased exercise and the resultant need to eliminate heat from the body’s interior. It should come in handy this weekend, though temperatures for Cascade, Idaho, where the PFC is held, are forecasted at a relatively balmy 85 degrees.


5 responses

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this. Beautiful. And yes, those sharp-looking silver tins are the new Easyboot shipping containers. Nice, eh?

    August 1, 2008 at 4:05 am

  2. tomandbuster

    You may have figured this out in the two years since you did that trim, but I think you want to take the bars down as well. It looks to me like you pretty much left them alone.

    I learned from Pete Ramey’s “Making Natural Hoof Care Work for You” and have since confirmed it with other professionals. I can transcribe what he has in his book verbatim for you if you wish.

    I trim Buster’s bars in an even line from the seat of the corn (heel) to the apex of the frog and leave them flush, or just barely above the adjacent sole. Ramey says 1/16″ above. Note that he does say that he leaves them alone in Thoroughbreds living in sandy conditions, but those are the only horses.

    Longer bars will exert pressure on the sole like a pebble in your shoe. Really long ones fold over. I’ve trimmed Buster when they were long before and thought “Oh my God, I just drew blood!” when in fact, I was actually looking at bruised sole that I uncovered when I trimmed the bar (that was causing the bruise) on top of it away.

    I’ve had that happen after rainy weather as well. All of that dried sole comes out and Buster looks like he hasn’t been trimmed in forever!

    I sold my nippers. I prefer to just use the rasp and knife. It’s enjoyable for me and is a nice bonding exercise.

    My farrier before I started trimming myself was a nice guy, but didn’t understand hooves. He’d cut away a ton of live sole every time, especially at the toes, and Buster would limp for about two weeks! Got rid of all of those pesky calluses! I was told that my horse was “just ouchy” and my only recourse was shoes. I thought that couldn’t be right and started doing research. Then I decided that I could probably learn how to do it on my own.

    October 8, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    • All good advice. It’s hard to tell from that photo angle how long the bars were, but it’s certainly possible they needed more work (looks like there’s a good chance they did.) Travis was fairly new to hoof trimming at the time. I agree about using a rasp for just about everything, though I do keep nippers around and use them occasionally if I’ve gotten behind on a horse’s hooves and have a lot of wall to take off.

      Thanks for the book recommendation — I’ll look it up! My favorite thus far is Jamie Jackson’s “The Horse Owner’s Guide to Natural Hoof Care.”

      October 9, 2010 at 7:24 am

  3. Melinda Faubel

    It was very cool that you posted this. Farley does this too – did it right before Comstock last weekend in fact. I remember thinking at the time that it wasn’t ideal to do this right before a ride! But nature has it’s own timing and like you, I knew the footing would be good.

    I love these types of posts because it just reaffirms to me that I’m making the right decision to trim/maintain my horse’s feet the way I do.

    October 9, 2010 at 7:25 am

    • I’m so much happier with my horses’ feet now — even though I know I still have a great deal to learn. Consolation’s hooves are doing some major remodeling again, too, after all those miles at Canyonlands. It’s so interesting to watch nature do its work!

      October 9, 2010 at 7:35 am

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