Sunday, September 15, 2013

She's Baaack

Jetta is back in action! I've lunged her a few times in side reins then finally got on and rode Wednesday. She was pretty good. Nothing that I didn't expect. Lost most of what we'd achieved last month but she wasn't completely awful. Nice to be back on her though.

Then the next day, Thursday, we went for our first endurance ride back. Only 8 miles this time around and we were slow pokes about it because we played in the river! Jetta started off her normal spooky self - leaping at leaves, sticks and stumps. At one point I thought she was going to buck me off when she humped her back at a blackberry vine, but luckily no theatrics. But the amazing part... the walked through ALL THE MUD AND ALL THE PUDDLES. This is a horse that will do everything, including walking straight through a blackberry bush, to avoid puddles.

But with just a short look at the first puddle she went through everything I asked her. Not so when we first caught sight of the river... Then she refused to move forward and I had to ponyclub kick our way down to the river. Such a pill.

But when we got to the area that gently slopes down into the water I decided to ask her to go in the water. I've been jealous of friends and bloggers going pony swimming! So I decided to see what she'd do.

Checking out the water plants

Chillin. The water was up to her belly here.

And she went for it!

We even went deep enough that she had to paddle a bit, but I didn't really want to get my tack wet so we didn't go any deeper. Maybe next time I'll ditch the tack and we'll go for a real swim. But it was so much fun!

8 miles in an hour and forty minutes. Usually we do 10 in that time.
We ended up doing two loops of the trails. Usually I do three, but since this was her first endurance type ride back we kept it a little bit shorter. She was good for the most part but started out really heavy and too fast at the trot for the first half of the trail. Once she had a good gallop she was much better.

Our route

Then on Friday we went on another trail ride with my friend ML. We used to board together and were roommates but now I don't get to see her that much and this was our first ride together again in a loooong time. It was awesome to ride with a great friend! Also, she goes our pace on her horse so I didn't have to worry about that. We rode for a good two hours, probably around 8 miles and did lots of galloping. Our horses were AMPED. I thought after the previous day's ride Jetta would be a little more laid back. Ha. Even after we galloped flat out all the way up the hill she was raring to go after a short walk break.

The bestest part of the trail ride (besides our great conversations, lol) was that Jetta's renegades stayed on! She wore them on her fronts and only the right one twisted a tiny bit. I was so glad because we were doing some serious moving with them. All the trails that we went on are graveled so she definitely needed them on her fronts. Her hinds did fine, though they'll need a bit of a rasp to smooth things out.

Saturday I was supposed to go on ANOTHER trail ride, but I um, may have flaked on that one. Oops. I was really wanting to do it but I just didn't feel up to riding. I feel super bad though because I'm the sort of person who says they're going to do something then does it - I show up prepared and on time and ready to go! But hopefully AR will accept my rain check and we'll go another time.


  1. Dang trail rides all around!! Glad they went well :)

  2. Glad you had a good time! :)

    TBA, if you don't mind I'd like to ask you a question about horses. I'm going to buy a Thoroughbred, and have evaluating the costs of owning a horse. I realized that you have your horses going barefoot, and was wondering what the pros and cons are and what you think about me doing the same.

    1. That's quite the question! You'll find a ton of answers all over the web and every horse owner has their own (often quite strong) opinion, so here's my personal, nonprofessional opinion. This is a very, very long answer so it's going to take several comments, lol.

      Pros - Don't have to worry about not being able to ride when your horse throws a shoe or gets a hot nail. Don't have to worry about horse ripping chunks out of their hoof wall when they throw a shoe or twisting their shoe and getting a nail puncture in their sole. I personally believe that it's healthier long term for horses to go barefoot. They have better grip barefoot than with plain shoes (not talking about studs here). I've never had a problem with slipperyness without shoes, though if it's super muddy it's going to be slick regardless of footwear. Less expensive than shoeing even if you end up using boots. Boots are great in helping transition horses to barefoot or if they're still ouchy on more abrasive footing.

    2. Cons - You really have to pay attention to nutrition. Nutrition is important in how well hooves do barefoot (high sugars usually not good, some horses are more sensitive than others, I feed a low NSC feed because of that). Thrush is also a major issue. Shoes are able to hide lot of these things, but barefoot makes every little thing matter. I treat weekly for thrush to prevent it and oftentimes in the winter will do a White Lightening soak to get rid of any nastiness due to the mud. Hooves have to be conditioned just like any other body part, gradually building up to more abrasive footing takes time. You can't immediately go ride on the road for several hours every day and not expect the hooves to wear fast. It takes time for the body to respond to the need for more hoof to be produced. If you ride on soft dirt and your horse is stalled all of the time then you can't expect to go riding on gravel and have your horse be sound. Wet weather often means soft hooves which can mean sensitive hooves. I've used Keratex to combat that, plus I don't ride outside on the trails much in the winter anyways. Transitioning from shod to barefoot can take a while depending on how long the horse has been in shoes and how bad it's feet are - again, nutrition and treating thrush are really important here. A lot of Thoroughbreds have flat feet (Jetta included) which can make it harder to go barefoot, but they just need to build up both wall and sole thickness, which again takes time. I got Jetta as a two year old so she had a year and a half to do nothing but let her feet get better before I started her in work (they were atrocious when I got her). Trim is also important. You don't necessarily have to have a "barefoot trimmer" but some traditional farriers will take off too much sole and frog that should stay there. Sometimes you'll not be able to ride certain trails because of footing, unless you boot. You learn really fast to listen to your horse's comfort on different types of footing. Sometimes they'll take missteps simply because of proprioception (they're just feeling where they're walking and walking on large rocks is kind of difficult though not necessarily painful) and sometimes because it hurts. While most people tend to shoe on a 6 to 8 week schedule, with barefoot you might have to have trims much more often, especially if the hooves are particularly bad. Some people might have trims done as often as 3 to 4 weeks, especially in the beginning so that the trimmer can make only minor adjustments to the hoof to prevent soreness.

      Overall, I think it's work. Sometimes it's just a matter of what's "easier" for the owner. Nutrition, footing, conditioning, thrush, etc are all things you have to pay close attention to and you have to educate yourself on what's best for your horse. I think most horses should go barefoot, but not all horses can. I've been very lucky that all of my horses have been able to do barefoot successfully, but often it takes time and patience. Jetta has come a long way and currently has great hooves despite her "pancake feet". She's comfortable on all sorts of terrain except for large rocks when she's been in consistent work. She does have issues with thrush. She does tend to chip if she gets any extra length at all so I've become comfortable with smoothing out the edges with a rasp between trims. She's on a 5 week trim schedule and I have a great trimmer.

      Also, I will try and find a few good resources on barefoot for you so you have more information.

  3. Glad pretty miss Jetta is back in action!