Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Of Hoofcare & Winter Riding

Despite my every intention to write more this month, I, uh, haven't. But I have been riding a fair bit and generally tackling all sorts of horsey to-dos. I finally feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things with the horses for the first time in awhile.


I'm keeping up with the horses' feet regularly for the first time in a Very Long Time. I am SO PLEASED with them all. Each is a work in progress, but I'm really happy with where we are at this point. Every horse is happy and free in their movement and relatively comfortable on gravel, which is always a true test of how well they're doing.

Griffin side views
Q; from this photo on, all hooves are in their representative blocks per the labeling on the sole photo of Griffin's
Stan. They're weird AF, but he is moving SO HAPPILY with them so I'm just letting it be
Stan. So much development to come for the caudal hoof on his fronts. The backs are pretty happy!

Q has always had amazing hooves. She's the one who is the most reliably comfortable on rough terrain barefoot and is generally an easy-keeper so far as her feet go. Grif falls in the middle of my three; he tends to have tougher feet than Stan, but not as bomber as Q. He's best when we ride more often and tends to be more tender if his movement is less. (Which makes complete sense.) Stan though? Stan has always been the difficult one.

Gah, he has the most narrow chest
He's also a touch pigeon toed. 

Stan lived in front shoes pretty exclusively through much of his life before me. Even with me, he's often been shod. He's just more comfortable that way. But since bringing him home, I've been more determined to get him comfortable barefoot and develop his caudal hoof. While he's still got a ways to go, he is the most comfortable that he has ever been barefoot. I'm completely amazed at how comfortable he is on gravel!

With time, his feet will continue to improve. I'm so happy to see him happy and am looking forward to working with him through this process. I cannot wait to see where his feet will be by this time next year.

Winter Riding

Aside from general horse care and barn chores, I have enjoyed several rides on each horse so far this month. Since DST hit on the 3rd, many of those rides have been in the dark. But I have fit a few in during the daylight hours, too.

Climbing up our mountain on Miss Thing
Sunset rays on Staniel
Winter woods color palette 
Uh, yeah. This was interesting. Could not see a gattdam thing. I DID use a headlamp because I wanted to have SOME semblance of where I was. Didn't help much beyond keeping me un-dizzy by helping me see Grif. The red dot is one of the dogs' LED collars. 

The arctic blast that swept across the country last week left Canaan Valley with 5" of fluffy snow and single digit temperatures. After a long, hot summer complete with a lengthy drought, I was pretty psyched about the weather. In fact, I've decided I'm jumping full-bore into winter riding this year. Finding ways to be excited about the cold makes it so much easier to deal with!

On Wednesday of last week, I rode not once, but TWICE. Both times in the dark. The first ride was a 4 AM full moon meander in the snow on Stanley before work. The second was a 6-something PM ride on Griffin, once again in the snow beneath the full moon. Both rides involved a taste of w/t/c with a short gallop near the end. Both were a total blast!

A 4am Staniel. Note the 5" of snow against the back door
What a moonlit snow ride looks like per my cell phone
Stan was so happy
The full moon as viewed from the back of a moving horse lol
The sunset that preceded my evening ride on Grif. You can see my Stan tracks from the morning just right of center.
Sweet boy post-ride.

I settle more into life with the horses at home with every passing day. It is a total and complete dream come true. I have already exceeded my annual riding mileage from 2017 and 2018 and am looking forward to finding more and more time to ride in the future.


  1. It makes such a difference to be able to just walk out your door and ride. It’s a game changer.

  2. I do wish Eeyore could go barefoot but he has crap feet. If he was a pasture puff or maybe a trail horse I’d think no about trying but no way could his hooves handle the stress of jumping without the support.

    1. It's awesome that you're doing what is best for him!

  3. YAY!!!!

    Love the pictures of their feet. I'm working on Spicy's barefootness but I'm at the 'leaving it alone' point. In the beginning it was a lot of trimming because his toes were so flared. Now it's just... grow. In the non-growing season.

    1. The timing of these things is never great. But sometimes slow progress is good!

  4. Oh man, you're far more badass than me, riding at 4am!! Although, I bet it was well worth it. Also, how amazing is it that you can do that??

    1. It is the greatest thing EVER. And I doubt 4am rides will become a trend haha. The full moon and snow made it worth it though. Not often do we have a blanket of snow and clear skies like that on a full moon!

  5. I love that you’re getting so much riding time!! Also omg Stan IS narrow chested lol