|Harley pictured with his favorite room in the barn. :)|
The winter solstice passed nearly a month ago, but we have been deliriously spoiled by mild weather. I left my barn jacket in my husband's car one day last week and it didn't even matter. I rode in a down vest and a sweatshirt with no problem. I marveled at the soft, forgiving footing in the riding ring and thought to myself, "Gosh, I thought this was going to be the off-season." Harley gave me an enjoyable ride, complete with nice shoulder-in, better transitions up and down, and flying changes. It was not cold enough to get his winter coat really sweaty, but he did have a little dampness around the girth, chest, neck, and hind legs. He dried quickly with a nice grooming session, which included me not wearing gloves or a hat.
Fast forward to this weekend...
...Yesterday, Harley had to wear his blanket during the day. He is wearing it today, too, because the high is below freezing. As I am writing this post, the weather is "23 degrees Fahrenheit, feels like 8". Yikes! I wore my riding clothes to the barn yesterday, including my toasty Rimfrost boots, but when I walked into the riding ring to test the ground my hopes for a nice ride after a long work-week dissolved. For the first time this winter, the ground was hard. Not solid. I could kick up some sand with the toe or heel of my boot, but it took some determined chipping. If I walked normally, the hoof prints in the sand did not change or flatten. I knew this was coming. Mother nature almost led me to forget that winter is not a good time of year for riding, especially if you are without an indoor.
Since riding in the ring was out of the question and I did not really feel like going out for a trail ride in the cold, yesterday became a trimming day. I brushed off Harley's blanket before removing it, cleaned up his coat, detangled and brushed his mane and tail, and got to work on his feet. Harley settled right into the doting and special treatment. He may have been a "yahoo horse" earlier in his life, but now he wears the "pampered prince" role very well. Spending time with my horse always makes me feel good, even if we do not get to ride together.
Time for some hoof photos. I trimmed his feet at two and a half weeks, so there was not a lot to take off, but it was still an interesting trim session.
|Right front: Concavity just about up to the white line. A little bit of exfoliation next to the frog, which is slightly ratty but wider at the central sulcus. And straighter bars. :)|
|Right hind: Lateral bar looking better, medial bar needed almost no trimming. Kept the toe back.|
|Left hind: Basically the same deal as the right hind.|
Driveway stones have appeared around the gate and water trough of Harley's paddock. The mud was too deep and had not shown signs of disappearing for quite a while. I much prefer this to dumping sand, which looks very taxing to walk through, and was the solution last time. The rocks, however, may be a challenge for Harley's buddy, who is tender-footed from time to time and often rides in boots. Harley marched right through them, which made me very happy and validates my efforts on his feet (and he is blessed with good genes in that area). It will be interesting to see if those rocks reduce the amount of trimming that I need to do. I would like that, but I also wish for something smaller and milder for his buddy, like pea gravel.
|Harley, wait! I am trying to take a picture!|
|No more pictures. I found some hay and a nice lead line to sniff.|
Did you know that there are right-handed and left-handed hoof knives?
(I know some of you do!)
I am thinking about buying a left-handed knife. I have a right-handed knife, which I am getting more confident using all the time, but I find it very awkward to trim the left bars on his feet. I hold the knife with my palm facing the ceiling and the knife blade protruding from my grasp at my pinky. I have a lot of control and strength with the knife, but I think that I could do a better, more professional job on the left bars if I had a left-handed knife to use in my left hand. I am right-handed, but I have pretty good coordination with my left hand and I am sure that it would improve with practice. Any thoughts?