Friday, February 8, 2013

In which somebody says something nice and I think that's quite important

I'm mostly unapologetic about putting steel shoes on my horse.

Back at the trailer today after 12.5 miles in 2 hours 15 minutes
on gravel and rock-armored logging roads

After all, I've tried other options.

*  Barefoot = sore feet.  Under saddle, Fee would move out only in the arena.  On trails, no way.  Even our driveway (crushed gravel + mud) was too ouchy.  And she was obviously uncomfortable in the pasture when the ground froze solid (which it does, periodically, from November to May.)

*  Booted = cussing at boots -  Easyboots Would.Not.Stay.On.  They were properly fitted (Garrett Ford himself helped me get the right size.) But either the mare would short-stride to keep the boots on, or she would stretch out into her natural gait and the stupid boots would go zinging off into the bushes.  Argh.   Rengades stay on, but do not provide enough protection for Fee's tender soles, especially when she does her Big Thing trot.

And of course, "booted" still means "barefoot" in the pasture, which is sub-optimal.

This is a logging road that isn't currently in use, so there is a light layer
of fir needles and mud over the top of the roadbed--it's solidly accessible all year round,
and the gravel keeps mud from getting deep.  Still, it's not a forgiving surface.
Fiddle's feet are made of tough tissue -- the farrier has broken a set of nippers while trimming her! -- but her soles are tender, and our trails are often (especially in winter) made of rock and gravel, either with or without mud over the top.

We also, of course, live in a Swamp.  That means her feet are exposed to wetness pretty much all the time, except when I lock her in a stall.  You can find patches of mud on my property about 10 months out of the year.  Wetness isn't optimal for horse feet, but there aren't a lot alternatives when you live in a Swamp.

After years of experimenting, I've returned to a system that works for me and for my horse: steel shoes and plastic pads.

*  Steel shoes + plastic pads = Happy Dragon.  This combination provides the protection and comfort the Dragon requires.  With steel shoes and plastic pads, she can stretch out into her big, free-moving natural gaits no matter how rough the trail tread gets.

Fiddle and I are both happy with this arrangement, but there are still people (not my Gentle Readers, obviously) who wave their self-righteous flags at my steel-shod horse, claiming that if I were a better person I would keep my horse barefoot because it's the right thing to do, (overlooking the obvious point that causing pain to a Dragon is rarely the right thing to do).

Mostly, I grit my teeth and look away.  Mom taught me to be polite, even when other folks are rude.  And I try to always do what my mom tells me.

And then today, somebody brought a nice article to my attention.  An article written by Garrett Ford, actually.  Remember Garrett?  He's the nice guy who helped me try to fit easyboots to the Dragon.  He's also the CEO of Easycare.  He says some nice things about bare feet.  He says some nice things about boots.

And then...

...he says some nice things about steel shoes.  And people who put them on horses.  And farriers.

The link to Garrett's article is HERE.

Because, hey. Sometimes it's nice to be nice.