Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Horse Stuff

Ok, I officially found two new favorite horse sites to peruse. I love hearing about new, interesting, different horse products that come out and I found a couple great things on there today. The Horse & Habit and Dappled Grey are officially my new favorites :)

These products are so cute! They have bridles
and halters and lunge lines in many different cute prints
and they can be customized!

Gypsy Tail, mane & tail extensions are so cute!
They're a little spendy but a lot of fun.

I love color padded bridles. Pink Equine also
makes a beautiful one, but this one has changeable
padding and is very affordable.

All of this company's products look amazing. They're
environmentally-friendly and very fancy for your special horse!

Not really sure how useful this Bit Box would be,
but it's interesting and unique.

I can't wait to do this to my horse!
They have all sorts of cute clip designs.

These are an adorable and custom tag to put on your tack.

Customized bucket that you'll never misplace!

I am on my way out the door to go see how my ponkykins is doing.
I'll leave you with this quote on The Lazy Thoroughbred from Dappled Grey.

"I'm so lazy I can barely go forward but.. EEEEEK! Sorry, I just had to spook right there. Ok, now back to being lazy."

Monday, November 29, 2010

That Horse

That horse. You know the one. Whenever someone mentions "That Horse," you automatically know who they're speaking about. Every barn has at least one. You know, that one horse that is always sick or injured or lame or not feeling well. Unfortunately, I have one of "those horses." Yep, Jetta is a walking disaster. So this morning I got a call from the Barn Owner (BO) that Jetta was laying down and getting up a lot and pawing. She had walked her around a bit but thought she was acting like she had colic. I rushed out there and found her kind of lazily pawing the floor.

I took her temperature which was a pretty normal 99.5 degrees F. Her pulse and respiration and gum color were all normal. I walked her around a bit then sat in the car with her on the end of the leadrope to eat my lunch. She seemed fine. She wasn't nipping at her belly (she did once, but it seemed more like she had a scratch to itch) and she was surveying the field and trying to eat my sandwich.

I stuck her back in her stall and watched her for another hour. All she did was nap and hoover up stray bits of hay. Hmm... She started pawing once more, but stopped and stuck her head over the door and went to sleep. I think she might have a slight tummy ache from getting wormed yesterday. I know that if a horse has a heavy worm load then they can get impaction colic from being wormed, but Jetta always gets wormed every other month. I left her there and we'll see how she does tonight.

Gosh that horse is going to give me an ulcer with her antics. The BO said she'd keep an eye on her and I think she's going to give her some hay for dinner since it got taken away this morning and Jetta is convinced that she's starving. If she's still feeling like she's got a tummy ache tomorrow I'll give the vet a call but I am hoping that this'll all blow over.

Sigh. I am feeling so stressed right now! I don't want Jetta to be in pain :( We'll just have to see how the next 24 hours goes. This is definitely not the first time that she's gotten me so worried. It seems like there's always something wrong with sweet little Jetta. I am going to bubblewrap that horse!

When I first got Jetta, she ended up getting a scratch on her cornea. Luckily it wasn't too bad, but it still required daily medicating (which was a pain in the butt) and now she always wears her flymask in the summer. I think it's something to do with her third eyelid being very large and it tends to trap things in there.

Then she got pigeon fever. We had a mini epidemic on our street two summers ago. Again we were pretty lucky that she only got a small abscess the size of a quarter on her belly. Even though it is highly contagious, none of her pasture buddies got it and with some antibiotics she got over it very quickly. The poor horse down the street had massive abscesses that required draining by the vet almost every week.

And then Jetta outdid herself. I walked to the barn to feed the horses in the morning and found Jetta still in her stall. The stalls are always open and I would just feed them in there at night and then they'd leave when they were finished. She kept nickering at me so I walked over to see what the fuss was about and her right hind foot was stuck between the stall boards of the stall. She stood there patiently while I examined the situation but I couldn't figure out how to get her out. I called my dad and he showed up with a sawsall (sp?) and he cut the board out. The foot was a little swollen, but I iced it for a bit and put some antibiotics on the small scrapes on the front and back and put her back in the pasture. I didn't think anything of it and I was gone for the weekend. All of my other horses healed just fine when they got scraped and only had some antibiotic cream put on the wound. When I got back it was a nice, pus-oozing infection. That led to daily scrubbings and medicating and spraying on an aluminum based spray that should've protected it from the environment but the scrape on the back of her pastern refused to heal and ended up developing proud flesh.

The vet came out and blocked the leg and removed the lump and Miss Jetta had to be on stall rest so it wouldn't get infected again from all of the mud in the pasture. She was stalled for a month which involved daily unwrapping, treating and rewrapping her leg as well as giving her a daily sedative shot to keep her from kicking down the stall. She was very upset that her buddies were outside and she was not.

Her leg is all healed now, though that hind leg is still a little swollen looking with a small lump on the back where the proud flesh was.

The last event wasn't very serious, but I came out to the barn and Jetta was hanging her head over the door and there was a puddle of drool on the floor. I almost thought she might be choking. She stopped though and we figured that maybe she was just a little sore from her teeth and the next week we had them floated.

Sigh. Oh, horse what am I going to do with you? Over at Tucker the Wunderkind there was a similar blog on horsey accidents. Luckily nothing with Jetta has required stitches. Yet, knock on wood.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Jetta got turned out today! It was her first time since she's got here just because we were waiting for her to settle in a bit and then rearrange the turnout schedule. Now she'll be turned out every other day for a couple hours. Anyways she was great. I didn't get any pictures unfortunately but she trotted around a bit and munched a little on the non-existant grass. She made a new buddy over the fence and hung out with him for a while. She got turned out with her bestest friend/enemy (her frenemy) Katy and luckily she was nice to her and there wasn't any kicking but I don't think Katy trusts her after what happened last time... Jetta just out of the blue decided to double barrel kick Katy while we were cooling out next to eachother. No injuries, but what a naughty pony!

I didn't ride today, I have a cold so I didn't feel like it and there were several people in the arena. I didn't really want to test out our steering abilities after a long weekend off. Jetta ended up getting her booster shots and her wormer. She was not very happy about it but she put up with it very well and got a giant apple for being such a good girl while being poked and having nasty stuff shoved into her mouth. (I found these humongous apples at the grocery store and just had to get a couple for the girls.)

I gave her a good grooming and we'll ride tomorrow. I hope to pop her over a few jumps this week and see how she does. I've been lunging her over some small jumps and she does ok about 75% of the time. We'll have to see...

I found a show that we're going to go to soon! It's January 15th and it's not only really close by, but really cheap, they've got great prizes and lots of good classes. I'm really excited. I was hoping to find a show that's soon because I really want to get Jetta out and experiencing new things and get some feedback on what we're doing right now. Anyways the first shows that I could find were in late February and I didn't want to wait that long so this'll be perfect. I can't wait! They have hunter classes from trot a pole to 1 foot to 2'9". We'll probably end up doing 2'-2'3" divisions if all goes as planned.

Winter break is going to be interesting as I'm leaving Miss Jetta at the barn here instead of taking her home to the muddy pasture with nowhere to ride. ML and I are going to trade off coming up a couple days a week and riding both of the ponies. Hopefully it'll just be a nice break for everyone all around. I'm hoping to get some new horsey stuff for Christmas that we can start using after the break ;)

And there's good news! Denali has made a miraculous recovery and escaped being put down. I hope that she stays that way! I know it would be so hard to put my own horse down, so I'm so glad that she's feeling good for the time being.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stud Chains

Many times I am surprised that there are people who don't do ground work. They complain that their horse is a jerk on the ground, but when someone suggests doing ground work, they look at them in confusion or say "Why would I do that?" There are many reasons for doing ground work, including but not limited to teaching your horse manners, freshening up your training schedule, making your horse a dream to handle on the ground, preparing for doing things under saddle, and during times when you can't ride, ground work gives you something to do.

What is ground work exactly? Well, it's teaching your horse things like how to walk an appropriate distance from you, how to stop when you stop, turn when you turn, etc. Teaching them to step over when you need them to move, handle feet, ears, etc easily, introduce new objects. It's also lunging and long lining (or ground driving), and generally teaching them things that make it easier for you to handle them on the ground.

One thing I see a lot is horses who don't know how to lead. What I mean is that they don't stop when you ask them to, drag you around when they feel like it, won't back up or move out of your way and require a lot of strength to handle in general. Most of these horses end up with a stud chain. Why? Mostly I think its because I think the horses are either afraid of the horse or they see everyone else doing and think why not?

There are several different methods for applying a stud chain and while they can be used humanely (they are always advertised as "humane") most of the time they aren't, or are being used as a substitute for proper training.
Under the chin. Common for 'correcting' the
horse, but little other value.

Over the nose. Used in unruly horses who won't
stand still, run away with the handler or rear.

A lip chain acts against the gums and has very severe action.
Tell me, does this horse look happy?

  I can understand using a stud chain if you are an experienced handler who has a horse that has a lot of explosive energy some of the time and you can't control them with proper training or you are in a new situation and you have an excitable and naughty 1200lb horse charging across the arena. They can also be used in vet procedures if your horse decides, for instance, they would not like their eye looked at, but again training is a huge factor. Stallions are the most common recipient of the stud chain, thus its name, because a lot of people are afraid of them and these horses aren't trained to behave properly regardless of their hormones.

While the stud chain can be a tool to use humanely, most the time it isn't. Most of the time I see horses being jerked around with a stud chain that gives no release, it is yanked on very hard repeatedly for no good reason, the horse is trying to trot in a showmanship class but when it doesn't go fast enough it is pulled on, making the stud chain go into effect, and it is used as a band-aid, not a cure for poor training.

You shouldn't have to use a stud chain to control your horse. I use rope halters that give you a little more leverage than a webbed halter, but are still nice and soft with a generous release and no where near as severe as a stud chain. Horses are less likely to lean on a rope halter, but they won't be hurt by it. You can use just a tiny amount of pressure on a rope halter to communicate with your horse or a lot if they're being bad and you won't make your horse rear over backwards. When I mention maybe using a rope halter so that their horse will stop running away with them, people often won't consider it because rope halters are "hard on horses" when in reality they are WAY more humane than doing anything else. Your horse will thank you!

If my horse wants to take off, I can control them with a plain halter no stud chain needed. They know that steady pressure means to slow down or back up. I don't have to put a lot of muscle into it. If they're not paying attention to me then a sharp tug gets their attention and we're good. If you put some work into teaching your horse to lead properly then you'll get that same amount back with regards to your horse learning how to lead. With some people it just comes down to laziness. Why teach your horse to stay out of your personal space when you could be riding?

Jetta came from a farm where stud chains were used on all the horses as a matter of principle, so she came to me with no respect for my personal space and unless you used a stud chain, pressure meant nothing to her. I think it only took two or three sessions working with her until she understood how to stand still and move with me, how to stop from a trot and keep her focus on me, not the other horses gallavanting around the pasture, and that she should respond immediately to a small amount of pressure.

Overall, stud chains do have a (very, very) small limited amount of circumstances in which using them are appropriate. Otherwise though, training can result in a horse that doesn't need one despite the situation. Regardless, everyone has their different views. Here for pro stud chains are Eventing Nation (look for the Shank You Very Much article), I think she makes some very valid points and Kristine Oakhurst, who I don't agree with at all. But there you go. If you need a lot more leverage, an alternative is the Humane Stud Chain.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas

What should you get for your horsey significant other? There are a lot of things out there that you can get for horse people, where should you even start? Here are my top picks:

Cute brushes, comes in pink and blue,
complete sets or individual pieces.

Cute! I've never smelt the perfume, but it's horsey
themed so it has to be good!

A cute way to make bran mash quick and easy.
The perfect holiday treat.

LOVE these hay bags. They come in a bunch of different
prints and colors. They're useful and cute!

These magnets are very pretty and appropriately
horse-themed. They come in this pattern, as well as
hunter/jumper and dressage.

These picture frames are very elegant. You can
customize it with a name plate with the horse's and/or rider's name.
 These are just a few things that might make a good gift. Both Dover Saddlery and SmartPak have great gift ideas. Visit Behind the Bit for what not to get! This is funny :)

Word of the Day

Huggle: (hug-gul) noun. A non-horse person. Like a muggle, but horse related.

I thought this was a great word. It combines two fantastic things: horses and Harry Potter.

This word created and/or shared by Denali's mom.

P.S. If you have some time, go over to visit her site and offer condolences for this tough time she's going through. She has to put Denali down due to complications from EPM and as horse-people, we all know how hard it is to do something like that.  

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving! So much good food. Before I go into a turkey coma...

I know that today I am so thankful for my horses, my good friends and family. I'm thankful that I'm able to attend college, that my horses are all health and happy, and that I have a pretty good life.

What are you thankful for?

Don't forget to hug your horsies today!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Unfortunately Jetta won't get ridden today as I'm on my way home for Thanksgiving. I just wanted to give a brief update on her training.

This past week we've mainly been doing cavaletti and trot pole work as well as working on our trot - canter transitions. Jetta's been doing great with the trot poles, really extending her stride and lifting and rounding her back. The cavaletti aren't going as well... She doesn't get it. Right now I have them at 8" high as that's the lowest they will go without being on the ground. I started out with doing one cavaletti, then going to two and then three. One cavaletti goes ok, though sometimes she has to add an extra step and then awkwardly hop over the cavaletti, but mostly she's been doing ok. Then comes the second cavaletti. She just plows through it. Sigh. I've played around with spacing and it seems to improve when she has a really long stride, but only about half the time. Three cavalettis is just a disaster with poles flying every which way.

After getting a little frustrated with this, I decided to see how she'd do over a larger jump, if she would actually pick up her feet. I just set up a couple barrels with the poles and had Jetta free jump them. After some rearranging so she would actually go over the jump and not just around it she did awesome. I was expecting that the first time she jumped that she wouldn't pick up her feet enough, but she didn't even touch it. I think the jump measured about 3'6".

Overall, I was very impressed with her performance, even though I think I did more running than she did! I guess we'll just keep working with the cavalettis every so often to see if she improves.

Canter transitions are going ok. They definitely need a lot more work. Lately she's been ignoring my cue to canter a little, instead trotting really fast and then reluctantly going into the canter. So I've gotten a little more demanding that she depart as soon as I ask, but then this tends to result in a very fast canter. Its ended up turning into a lot of canter circles, but she is getting better.

ML rode her twice over the weekend when I wasn't there. She had been wanting to ride her for a while so I gave her the go-ahead. I was so nervous that Jetta would be really bad! Of course I know that ML is a fantastic rider and I would never let her on Jetta if she wasn't, but Jetta can be such a dork. She's never had anyone else ride her and I could just see her being a brat and cantering really fast then losing her balance and falling. Luckily, ML reported that she was a lot of fun to ride and she didn't pull too many naughty moves.

I switched horses with ML on Sunday and it was funny how used to riding Jetta I had gotten. Katy was super lazy and felt short strided compared to Jetta. It was interesting, but I do miss riding reliable Katy!

Here is my to-do list of things to work on: more trot poles, introduce a little jump under saddle, work on leg yeild, possibly some shoulder-ins, work on both up- and down-ward canter transitions, and go on another trail ride! (This time with a saddle though)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


It snowed!!! This just made my entire week. Big fluffy flakes were falling all last night and this morning and now there's about an inch of snow! Not that much, I know, but this is an area where it only snows roughly once a year. ML and I went out to see the ponies this morning. We were planning on doing their vacs and deworm but then decided because of the snow that we had to go on a trail ride. Of course it was Jetta's first trail ride and I decided to go bareback (not the best idea) but Jetta was a perfect angel. She loved it! Unfortunately school is not cancelled, but it's still awesome! We got some cute pictures in the snow :)

Ahhh... I love the snow :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Custom Saddle Pads

I love saddle pads. In fact, I believe you can never have too many. Why not have one for every occasion, depending on your mood and other factors? I have a hot pink all-purpose, bright blue all-purpose, white all-purpose, black all-purpose, tie-dye all-purpose, pink dressage, multiple white dressage, and an aqua dressage pad. They're relatively inexspensive and can be so much fun to outfit your horse in.

I recently ran across this thread:
She makes these custom saddle pads specific to your measurements and design with whatever fabric you want. For $35 dollars! I think that they look great and am thinking about ordering one... or two, maybe three :)

Here are some of my favorite ones that she's made:

I love the pink zebra (I think I'll get it for one of my friends) and the black and white swallowtails. These would make awesome Christmas presents. I might even get one for myself :)

I love these fabrics and I think they would make cute pads:

Here is her website for more information: http://goldenshadows.weebly.com/index.html

Seeing Spots

Someday I would love to breed Jetta. I believe that she has pretty correct conformation with no serious faults and hopefully this summer I will take her to some sport horse breed shows to show in-hand and get some feedback on her conformation. If the feedback is good, I would love to get her approved in one or more warmblood registries as a broodmare.

So, naturally, I've been looking at stallions that I would like to breed Jetta to. This probably won't be soon and might never take place but I love to look and make lists of stallions that I like and balance well with Jetta. The reasons that I want to breed Jetta is that I would love the chance to raise a baby from birth to under saddle training as well as breeding a baby would be less expensive than buying a young prospect even with all of the vet fees and the stud fee taken into account.

Since I would be breeding my own baby I would want certain traits - one of them being color. I could care less if the foal is a filly or colt. Why not have a horse that not only has talent and conformation but color too? The color breeds that I love are Appaloosas and Knabstruppers.

Here is what I have learned about Appaloosa coloring so far. There are two genes that control markings: the Lp/lp gene and the PATN-1 and -2 gene. If a horse is LpLp then they are homozygous for passing on color markings to all of their offspring. This gene manifests itself in either a fewspot (also known as white born) pattern or a snowcap pattern. The PATN gene affects the distribution of spots, whether it's isolated to one area (like a blanket) or it's spread all over the body (like a leopard). This means that I need to find a fewspot or snowcap stallion with traits that I like.

A few of the traits I am looking for in a stallion that has good jumping and/or dressage abilities that has a strong back and loin, a large, balanced hip, good strong feet, small chiseled head, good performance record and, of course, color!

These are some of the stallions that I came up with and I liked the best:

Nobody's Harlequin

Hussar of Independence


Butterwap Confetti
The first three stallions are Knabstruppers. I like Nobody's Harlequin because he looks as if he has fantastic bone and very correct conformation (though in this picture he appears back at the knee), but I would like a prettier, more refined head. Hussar I also love because he's got all of the conformation traits that I am looking for, but he is located in Germany, I think, so I'm not sure how the whole shipping semen deal would work out. Ravaldi is a little lacking in the conformation department for what I'm looking for, but man can he jump! I also like Butterwap Confetti who combines the two sporthorse Appaloosa lines of Wap Spotted and Choklate Confetti, but as of yet I have not heard of any competition records...

I also ran across Spotted Holsteiners. I am not really sure about how it works, but it seems to me that these stallions can pass on the color gene (to solid mares?) with only about 4% of Appaloosa blood. I would be interested to find out more about Spotted Holsteiners but so far my internet searches were inconclusive.

Just to show you what my dream foal would look like out of one of these stallions, here is Cita Norfolk by Ravaldi. She is just stunning! I love her color and her conformation and her movement. If I could afford her, I would buy her in a second! Presuming she was for sale of course.

Here are some links about coloring and the above horses:
Ravaldi and his offspring
Hussar of Independence
Nobody's Harlequin
Butterwap Confetti
Spotted Holsteiners
Equine Color Genetics
The Appaloosa Project

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pony Power!

I seem to be going through a pony phase right now. I've always wanted a pony. My first horse was Grady, a 15.3hh Quarter Horse so I never even got to take lessons on a pony. While I'm glad I started out on a big horse, not only because I'm a tall person, but because I looove tall horses, I feel I missed out on pony ownership :)

So I was perusing the internet and found this ADORABLE show. It seems that in the UK, little kids start riding young, and they all have shetland ponies. How cute is this? I want to do this too! There are all sorts of videos out there of little kids on adorable ponies, but my favorite by far are those of Shetland shows! A show filled with JUST cute, fluffy little ponies with their cute little riders. Sigh... My kids are going to end up so spoiled. Someday...

I haven't yet figured out how to correctly embed a video so I'll work on that unless anyone has some pointers.

I was also recently on craigslist and I saw this cute pony that I want! I could give lessons on it and I just know that my friends horse would love to have a pet pony :) And I could drive it. I wish I could have it! But I am sure that my parent's would kill me and I don't think I can afford another horse's board and upkeep. Oh well...


And again more pony fun. This has to be the best craigslist ad ever. I was laughing so hard!

Used purple pony halter - $600 (Belleville)
I have a used bright purple pony halter for sale. Adjustable and in fairly good condition.
A pony will be included with the halter. I currently call this pony "Juicy," although he goes by many other names as well, depending on my mood and his behavior.
This pony is just waiting to become someone's little dream pony.
This 12.2 hand, 7 yr old pony is fantastic, if you are into the type of equine that is is constantly invading your space/vehicle, etc.
He believes he needs to be everywhere you need to be, especially when food is present.
He is in great shape, if you consider round a shape.
He never met a horse trailer he didn't like and climbs in them every chance he gets, whereupon he immediately puts his feet up on the manger so he can look out the window. He made it halfway in the back of my car the other day before I noticed and sped off.
He LOVES little kids, especially little kids with treats. He will eat them (the kids, not the treats). Just kidding.
This pony has been worked over 2'6" jumps and lunged over 3'3" jumps. However, he likes jumping my 4 ft. pasture gates the best.
He could absolutely be someone (else's) dream pony.
He's very affectionate, both with people (especially women) and horses (especially mares). This little guy is the neighborhood gigolo. By affectionate, I mean he will have no issue invading your personal space/private parts, if you know what I mean. He sticks his nose wherever he wants. With mares, he is lucky he is quick because he will mount mares, even the ones who have "a headache." He is not at all discriminating, although I've noticed he likes the fuller figured gals. His absolute favorite is mounting a mare while a woman is on the mare. Ask my friend Lisa, I'm sure she considered that a good time.
And when rejected? You can see that he is clearly thinking that the female is merely playing hard to get. This just makes him more determined.
This porky little guy very much thinks that he's got what the ladies want, even if they don't know it yet. He reminds me of the little guy at the bar who hits on everybody, whom you practically have to blow an air horn in his face to get rid of.
This pony has been on television, which probably adds to his ego trip.
He could be the perfect little dream pony (for someone else).
He walks/trots/canters/jumps, takes trips to the mailbox and to check the waters, goes trail riding, swims, poses on stripper poles (ask me), tests your trailer floor weight limits, tests your trailer emergency walk through doors, taste tests anything and everything, steals food from blind horses, tried to mount my dog(it is a big dog), stands tied patiently to the swing set while my son swings, loves to roll in the sand box, allows little kids to mount him from lawn chairs, buckets, swingsets, clubhouses, ladders, gates, side of the trailer and anywhere else, pulls little kids on sleds in the snow, tries to decapitate adults by running them under arena railings, and so much more.
Did I mention that he could be the perfect little dream pony(for someone else)?
"Juicy" is also a fantastic workout companion. I think I've lost at least 15 lbs since I've had him. I've never run so much in my life, either after him or from him. Though his little flabby butt cheeks closely resemble two pigs fighting under a blanket, he got me in wonderful shape.
I firmly believe he's a dream pony (someone's else's dream, that is).
Call me if you want a used purple halter and are a glutton for punishment.

And if you would like to laugh even more, read this story.

And that concludes todays session of Pony Power. I'm sure that there'll be more, but this should keep you occupied at least for a little while.

Barefoot Trimming

I am going to attempt to write at least one blog a day, but these first few days there's so much that I want to write about! I'll probably end up doing two or three posts a day until I run out of new and exciting things to talk about and start sticking with the once a day format. Also would just like to warn you that my blog format will probably undergo a lot of changes while I figure out what I like best :) So, without further ado, here's my first real post! Enjoy!

There always seems to be a lot of debate around the barefoot vs shod horse debate. I'm no different, I love to talk about it. So far none of my horses have ever had shoes. There just hasn't been a need for it. I tend to keep my horses pastured so in the wintertime shoeing isn't practical because of the mud. While I do ride often, I don't do it so much or on such hard footing that my horses' feet end up crumbling under the stress. Maybe it's because I've been lucky enough to have horses with healthy feet? I don't know, but I've never really gotten the "horse's HAVE to be shod" argument.

Until I got Jetta, I'd never considered shoeing my horses. Jazz had fantastic hard feet that never cracked or split and she wasn't tender on gravel at all. Grady was a little tender on large gravel pieces, but he was just a trail and pasture horse that didn't need shoes for his riding load and his feet were tough enough that they didn't get bruised or tender on the average rocks we encountered. With Jetta though things were a little different. When I bought her it seemed as if she had been left out in the pasture and forgotten about. Only when the barn got a new manager did she start receiving some basic education in leading and lunging, but at this point she was a 16.2hh baby that didn't want her feet touched so the manager opted out of handling her feet. Once I find it, I'll post a picture of her "before and after" feet.

I've always used a barefoot trimmer. They're somewhat of a rare breed and I started out with one fantastic trimmer who then hurt her back and had to stop trimming. From there I think I went through I think 5 other trimmers trying to find one who 1) actually showed up when they said they would, 2) didn't make my horses lame and 3) didn't beat my horses. I now have an awesome trimmer who does barefoot trimming. For all purposes on here, I'll call her AC.

Well AC has been working on Jetta's feet for two years now and they have almost become a complete new hoof. They started out jagged with severe quarter cracks and major flares. Unfortunately Jetta has the typical TB hoof that is very flat, almost convex in appearance meaning that rocks hurt! AC told me that I might have to shoe Jetta but we'll have to see. I would like to wait it out until her feet are completely reshaped to their correct anatomical form and see if she will develop tougher feet. I may have to use hoof boots, but I'm definitely not against them.

Here's how I see the argument for and against shoes:

  • Allow for the horse to work on hard surfaces with no wear
  • Can be used to fix or help with hoof or conformational problems
  • Studs can be added to give super traction
  • Many traditional trimmers force the hoof to conform to their idea of what it should look like
  • High heels and long toes are the norm which create undue stress on the horse
  • Most metal shoes provide no shock absorption, but instead the opposite and place stress on the joints.
  • Horse's can walk more comfortably on gravel
  • A misplaced nail or pulled shoe can cause serious problems
  • Shoes can often increase performance (such as in reining or eventing)
  • Expensive!
  • Hoof is trimmed differently for each horse allowing the horse to be more comfortable
  • Natural trims allow the hoof to wear naturally requiring trimmings to be less frequent
  • The frog and sole are not trimmed allowing it to be as nature intended with the sole being tough enough to withstand rocks and the frog functioning as a pump to push blood back up the leg
  • Correctly trimmed barefoot hooves can be just as tough as shod hooves
  • The bare hoof has natural traction in most situations and can expand and contract without shoes
  • Need to find a good trimmer who knows what they're doing
  • Usually less expensive than shoes
  • Short heels and toes make the horse have a more natural stride and it decreases stress on the hood and body
  • Performance horses can go barefoot
  • Hoof boots might be necessary but over a horse's lifetime are much cheaper than shoes
  • Many people have jumped on the band wagon for the natural hoof care "fad" without considering their horse's well-being or bothering to find a good trimmer and transition correctly to barefoot
Here are some pictures of correctly trimmed barefoot feet. You can see the slope of the pastern is the same as the slope of the hoof wall as well as the sole and frog are not carved away. You can see the difference between the shod and barefoort hooves as well, though the picture of the shod hoof in profile looks like a good job, just slightly different from barefoot.

So that's what I think about the shod vs barefoot horse debate. I love barefoot but I am not anti-shoes. I don't think that all farriers are "bad" or that all barefoot trimmers are fantastic miracle workers but there are obvious benefits and drawbacks to each side. Overall the most important thing is that the horse is comfortable, sound and the hoof is overall well balanced whether it's trimmed or shod.

Here's an interesting article that I think makes some great points on going barefoot:

New Blog!

Hello! I recently decided to make a blog about everything horses including my training of my TB Jetta. I do keep a training journal but I thought this would be a better way to keep track of our progress and I can of course include videos, pictures, links, etc. Also, I was hoping it would encourage me to keep better track of what we are working on. I love to read other blogs such as Behind the Bit, Eventing-a-Gogo and Tucker the Wunderkind, so I am going to follow in their footsteps and create my own blog. While I would love to meet people who share my own interests I am not obsessed about gaining followers (though if you're reading this, follow me!). I hope this blog will be a place where I can write about my training, things that interest me and other horsey-related items both for myself and for others' viewing pleasure. I of course would love any advice or constructive critisism (please be nice!) on my riding and on my horse, though I will moderate comments. Most people, including myself, don't enjoy nasty comments or comments that are completely derogatory, so please keep in mind that if I feel offended by your posts it probably won't get published.

With that out of the way, meet Jetta:

I am hoping that she will mature into a lovely eventer, but depending on her talents we may choose to stick with dressage or the hunter ring. We'll just have to see! I bought Jetta two years ago as a two-year-old. I planned on reselling her, but my main mare has gotten a little older and is as far in her training as she can go and I am hoping Jetta can go above and beyond where I have already been. Mainly she's done a lot of ground work. She had to be taught to let her feet be handled as they had never gotten trimmed nor picked. That was fun. I started her under saddle at the beginning of this past summer with a natural horsemanship and classical dressage foundation and now here were are! I am still exploring classical dressage training and Jetta is learning what is expected of her but already I can't wait to see how she'll turn out!