“Hi Stacy. I have a question for you. I am a reasonably new horse owner and my 18 year old quarter horse has flat feet. At this point she is bare foot. We have her on a good nutrition routine and regular farrier visits. But I noticed that she avoids gravel at every chance and I took her out trail riding last week and it was a struggle to keep her on the path and off of the grassy area on the side where she was running me into the trees. Of course the suggestion is put shoes on her. But I am reading that shoes are not that great full time on a horse. So I am considering rubber boots that I would put on her when she is out in the pasture. I am interested in your opinion boots or shoes?” -Laurie A.
From your description it seems fair to say that your horse is trying to tell you that the gravel hurts. It also sounds like this was an issue for you when you were trail riding…but then you also add considering boots for her when she is in the pasture also. Is there gravel or hard ground in your pasture? Or do you have a reason to believe that she is sore in the pasture also?
I mention this because it may change some of the comments or the way that you make your decision. For example, I have owned horses that I kept barefoot. Some of them were sensitive going across gravel, but gravel wasn’t part of their normal routine so it was easy to work around it. They were fine in the pastures, arenas and dirt trails. As long as I avoided blacktop with loose gravel on top or rough gravel they were fine.
There are many options out there and many opinions of what works and what doesn’t. I think that it is wise to consider that each horse is unique as are the situations that they will be put in. Those are questions you need to answer. For example, I show in reining and to slide the horses need sliding shoes. I leave all my horses barefoot in the front as long as I can…some of my horses stay barefoot in the front year-round…others end up with front shoes on. It depends on the horse. I do pull shoes off and leave horses barefoot during any downtimes that we have, for example if we are not showing over the winter then they are often barefoot and turned out.
I know that EZ Boots for horses have come a long way over the years. I met a woman who rides competitive endurance rides wearing EZ Boots…which means that they can work well in tough conditions. She did tell me that they worked best on horses with a very ‘normal’ shaped hoof. Horses with longer, narrow shapes for example were more likely to throw the boot off (from what I was told). I haven’t heard of someone leaving these boots on in the pasture. I would be concerned with holding moisture against the hoof, plus most of mine would probably try chewing them off for fun. I am hoping that some people who use them will leave comments. If I were looking to mostly trail ride and my horse was fine barefoot in the pasture then I would probably try the EZ boots and skip shoeing.
If you wanted to try shoes you could do that also. It is completely possible to put shoes on for a few months and then change your mind. When I was a kid we kept the horses barefoot almost all the time. The exception was around August when the ground got dry and hard, we were riding a lot and the horses would get a little foot sore. We were riding the same trails we had been from April until then but they still got tender. We would put shoes on to finish the summer and fall and then when the weather got rainy, school started and we rode less…we would pull the shoes off. The two or three times we would ride a week didn’t bother them and they usually didn’t see shoes again until late the next summer.
I think this question will depend mostly on you and your horse. Is keeping her barefoot and avoiding the stones possible? If so then consider it. If she is even getting sore in the pasture then you may need to consider something else. If she is only ‘ouchy’ on gravel when you ride…consider trying the boots. Or if you have a good farrier don’t be afraid to try shoes also.
“What happened to your minis? I know you took them from Ohio to Texas,
but you haven’t mentioned them since.”-Robin B
Thanks for reminding me! I have been working on a video that tells the story of the minis…but I kept forgetting to finish it. The minis learned a lot while they were with us including how to drive single and as a team…and we loved every minute of it.
Training horses is my passion and what I love even more is finding them great homes and purpose in life and the minis found theirs.
Check out the video:
Dancing just happens to be one of those things in life that people just don’t do without joy…at least not well or for long. And dancing puts a romantic image in our mind of someone who is so lost in what they are doing that they can even dance through the storm.
But I’m not a dancer.
So I suggest replacing the word ‘dance’ with ‘ride’.
Really, this makes the whole quote just work better for me.
Yep, a new twist on an old saying.
* * *
What word would you put in there?
It is always strange to read an article that was written about me without my prior knowledge. It is another way to see how other people perceive you as well as what common desires people share.
Leslie, the writer, happens to daydream about full time living on the road with her horse. Not everyone would agree, in fact there are days that I even question it. But even if you don’t share that same dream there are still lessons that can be learned from the idea.
When I have my doubts, which I am planning on sharing more of with you in the future, I have a way that I deal with it. I ask myself a question: How hard would it be to go back? or another way to look at it would be: How hard would this be to undo?
If I decided tomorrow that I didn’t want to live full time on the road, I am confident that I could buy another house in Mount Gilead, Ohio. The transition to go back would be easier than the transition to leave…which is probably why fewer people do it.
But if you can turn it around, view it another way, it is liberating.
What dream are you not pursuing because the transition into the dream would be hard…even though the transition back would actually, now that you think about it, be easy?
Turning forty is notorious for causing folks to reflect about their lives. I suppose everyone deals with it in their own way, but I went for a trail ride. People told me Happy Birthday but the horses treated me the same as usual…so I know everything is going to be just fine.
I thought that today’s blog would simply say: I have been blessed, but as I typed the words it just didn’t seem to be enough.
I am not denying that I feel blessed, I feel it so strongly at times that my over whelming desire is to cry and point out that I am not worthy. I am especially prone to this when I hear of someone else struggling; a baby dies, someone has cancer, a car crash takes a life. It makes me weak to think about these things. But it also liberates me.
Why not live now? Why not try now? What if this is the only time I do have?
Some people may be inspired by that thought, but if viewed from another angle, I could argue that it is just a realistic statement.
I have frequently said that, when someone tells me they have been inspired by me, I consider it the highest complement they could give me…but it also humbles me. Sometimes it downright scares me. Because I am just me. And I am far from perfect. But I have been blessed.