First Barefoot Trim

We tackled Luna’s hooves today, beginning what we hope will be an uneventful recovery process.  When we first looked at her, her owner told her reluctance to move forward was due to the added weight of pregnancy.  Forget the foal, her feet were a mess!  Every step must feel like walking on glass shards!

Flares in her hoof walls indicate laminar stretching and separation.  OUCH! The separation is also evident in the stretched water lines.  Subtle red marks indicate angry bruising. Overgrown walls and bars concentrate concussive and shearing forces with each step.  There is a Youtube video that illustrates this with revolting clarity–I’ll dig it up.

I just trimmed her front hooves.  The hinds can wait ’til tomorrow.  Healing is a process.

I asked Mark to walk her out to check the results in motion.  Tentative at first, Luna gained confidence in her newly found comfort as she walked.   Rebalancing the hooves caused a heel-first landing.  Her stride–and her topline–lengthened.  You could see the relief on her face!

Luna LF Before Barefoot trim

Luna LF After Barefoot Trim

Rolling the toe takes the pressure off the lamellar attachments, allowing them to heal.  Over time we’ll see the tubules begin to grow straight down.  The flares and resulting bruising will disappear.  The water line will shrink. The whole hoof capsule will tighten up, supporting the internal structures–and the whole horse–with the integrity for which it was designed.

 Luna LF Hoof Before barefoot trim

Luna LF After Barefoot Trim

The lighter coloration of the freshly rasped hoof is decieving.  To me it looks like there is a much greater difference between the heights of the structures.  In reality, the weight bearing surface is pretty smooth.  The bars and bottom of the wall are trimmed way down to help distribute the weight bearing load.

luna RF Hoof Before Barefoot Trim

Note the extra toe length as seen in the left front-before shot cracked and broke off a few days before.

 Luna RF After Barefoot Trim

Luna RF Before Barefoot Trim

Luna RF Hoof After Barefoot Trim

 I’m excited!  I think Luna has some darn good feet hiding behind the signs of neglect!

Indian Summer- Warm Weather Natural Horse Care

Indian summer weaves its way between cold snaps here in wild, wonderful West Virginia. I welcome the warm sunshine which glows through the foliage. I can take off my winter coat, but the horses can’t.

As I wait for the wash bucket to fill to sponge off a very sweaty Bogey, I think about the challenges Indian summer presents to horses, and the ways a natural horseman can meet those needs.

Provide plenty of clean water. Even if he doesn’t appear sweaty, your horse is struggling to keep his temperature down under all that winter wool.

Make sure your horse has access to the electrolytes and minerals that he needs. Whether you use a traditional salt block or, as we prefer at Natural Horse Training Methods, free choice loose minerals, be sure your horse is provided for. If your horse is in heavy training, this may be a good time to supplement with additional electrolytes.  Beware of formulas with lots of sugar and artificial flavors and colors.

Be aware of your horse’s exertion level during work. A natural horsemanship exercise which may be easy under normal circumstances may cause more stress on a warm day to a horse with a thick winter coat. Adjust rest periods accordingly.

Rethink your routine. If heat is going to stress your horse unduly, plan on a slower workout. Practice perfecting tough exercises at walk. The precision you gain will enhance those same movements at faster gaits when the heat wave breaks.

Sponge your horse off well after a training session. Slosh him with cool water then immediately scrape him, several times over. Body heat transferred to the water will be removed when you use your sweat scraper. If you do not sweat scrape, the layer of water on the horse will have the same effect as a thermal blanket!  Sloshing and scraping over and over will help pull heat out quickly.

For a more comprehensive list of suggestions, check out our free article, Natural Horse Care in the Heat. Do you have any tips and tricks you’d like to share with our community? Sound off in the ‘Comments’ section of this blog post.

Natural horse trainers–these suggestions also apply to you! Often we get so caught up in caring for our horses that we forget our bodies need the same care and nutrition we give our horses. Drink more water than you think you need, sample some new flavors of Gatorade, and remember your sunscreen!

Horse Video Rental Discovery

I just found this great site that rents horse videos. They have a ton of stuff I would love to see, but buying them all would break the bank. A perfect solution? I think we’ve found it!

Great selection of natural horsemanship videos, too. You name the clinician, they got ’em: Clinton Anderson, Buck Brannaman, Craig Cameron, Chris Cox, Ed Dabney, Andrea Fappani, Tommy Garland, Gawani Pony Boy, Julie Goodnight, Cherry Hill, Ray Hunt, Linda Tellington Jones, John Lyons/Josh Lyons, Dr Robert Miller, Lynn Palm, Pat and Linda Parelli, Curt Pate, Mark Rashid, Kerry Ridgway, Karen Scholl, Sally Swift, Anna Twinney, Stacy Westfall and Charles Wilhelm.

Check it out! Your Horse Matters

Saddle Selection

Spring has sprung, the daffodils tell us. The horses agree as they gaze out over the hayfields that are growing so fast you can hear it. Riders’ thoughts are turning to, well, riding, and the increased freedom encouraged by good footing, beautiful weather and woods exploding back into life.

Several of our boarders have new horses, and some of the horses have new riders. Saddle selection and fit is a hot topic of conversation. Natural horse trainers know that comfort and safety supersize performance. A saddle doesn’t need to be expensive, but a saddle that fits both horse and rider AND is built and balanced for the job or sport intended is key to success.

One boarder is looking at Big Horn synthetic saddles. She likes the light weight and the additional suede coverage on the seat and jockeys. The balanced design and extra “stick-um” are perfect for her kids that are new to horsemanship. The affordable price tag is also attractive, especially since The Horse Saddle Shop offers free shipping on top of their low prices and amazing customer service!

Another plus: their downloadable templates and library of free saddle wisdom help you find the perfect fit for you and your horse.

Mark will be looking for a new saddle soon as well. I think we’ve found our winner!