From Endurance to Dressage
Izzy has lost one too many shoes. We are now going barefoot. I am not an extremist either way: I like the sturdiness of shoes, but the convenience of going barefoot is hard to beat. Izzy just can't/won't keep that right front shoe in place.
I kept Speedy shod all the way around for many years. For the last couple of years though, he kept coming up lame without any apparent reason. I took him to Alamo Pintado, a premier equestrian medical center on the Central Coast where he was diagnosed with a possible suspensory ligament issue in the hoof. He had months off, and came back sound. When repeated the lameness a year or so later, my vet felt that we needed to change his shoeing. When he came up lame again, my current farrier posited that he was simply whacking himself with his own feet. He suggested we go barefoot. Speedy's been sound ever since.
While Izzy is sound, he keeps yanking that front right shoe off. He's pulled it twice now in the past week. My farrier isn't complaining about it, but I am tired of replacing chewed-up bell boots that aren't working anyway.
When I saw the shoeless foot on Saturday morning, I said screw it and saddled him up anyway. Dude was sound as a dollar. I called my farrier and asked if we could just pull the shoes and try going barefoot. Farrier said that it's a cheap and easy thing to do and certainly worth trying.
If Izzy gets sore being barefoot, we'll just stick the shoes back on. Given how sound he's been for the past few rides, I am hopeful that we can go barefoot permanently. He's already shoeless in the back and has been for more than a year, so I think this might be the cheapest fix in history!
An order from Riding Warehouse is coming my way ...
Since moving to the ranch less than a month ago, Izzy has pulled the same shoe twice. The first time, he pulled it cleanly off, and I was able to track it down easily. My farrier was in the area and was able to reset it that same day. This time, Izzy didn't pull the shoe off. Instead, he left half of it hanging on tightly.
As luck would have it, I discovered the wonky shoe while chatting with the ranch owner. As I gave it the stink eye and tapped it ineffectively with my hoof pick, she told me to hang on a second as she had a good pair of nippers that I could borrow.
The farrier always makes it look so easy. It took me a minute or ten, but I was finally able to pry the shoe off without tearing up the hoof wall. I thanked the ranch owner for the loan. I would have been out there forever with my hammer and hoof pick trying to get that thing off. She showed me where she keeps her farrier tools so that the next time I have a loose shoe, I'll know where to look.
With all of Izzy's new space, he's able to do a lot more zooming around. I am also hosing him off more frequently which has softened up his feet. Woo-hooing with soft feet is a good way to irritate your farrier. Izzy was due for shoes this week anyway, so I guess the timing was good.
When I first got Izzy, he had been living out in pasture for more than a year and a half. Actually, I think his owner might have had him on pasture for pretty much his first six years of life. While pasture is fantastic, especially for young horses like Izzy, it can be pretty tough on their feet.
Izzy had developed a crack up the front of his hoof, but I knew it would grow out with good farrier work. While Izzy was with the "leg wrecker" trainer (start here and scroll back to find the beginning), I had her farrier shoe him because he was starting to get footsore (he was barefoot). It was a fairly mediocre shoe job at best.
Within just two or three visits by the farrier, the crack disappeared, and the hoof started taking on a much more balanced shape. Farrier work is one thing I don't try to micromanage. I always have good farriers and trust them to do their work. I can recognize a really bad shoe job, and a nice shoe job will stand out just as easily. Outside of that, I leave the angles and length to them. So far, that has worked out okay.
My current farrier has been working with my horses for almost a year, and both of their hooves look really great. Speedy has been able to go barefoot, which I love (no more lost shoes), and Izzy only needs to be shod in front.
My farrier was out this week. I forgot to take pictures of Speedy's toes, but I did get some shots of Izzy's freshly shod feet. They have really changed shape over the past year and look like they are now an excellent weight bearing structure.
I follow a six week shoeing cycle, how often do your horse's feet get done?
I work really hard to avoid afternoon appointments, but lately, they've been hunting me down. I rode Izzy on Monday afternoon, but then I've meetings on Tuesday and Thursday that kept me away. The farrier was out, so I was eager to get there on Wednesday to check out how Izzy and Speedy's feet looked.
I have to be the luckiest gray horse owner alive. Not only does my nearly white horse keep himself impeccably clean, but he has the hardiest white feet I have ever seen. I couldn't even tell that they'd been trimmed. Speedy rarely has chips or flares of any kind. For this go round, I think my farrier shortened and buffed them a bit to make them look pretty, but I bet he spent all of ten minutes and not a second more. There simply wasn't much to do.
Speedy's feet are so lovely that I didn't even hesitate to take him on a hack around the neighborhood on freshly trimmed feet. He is never sore after a trim and doesn't care whether we choose the dirt shoulder or just mosey right down the middle of the road.
As I was photographing his toes, I looked up at his left eye and was shocked to see that he had clearly gotten in a brawl with someone. I hope the other guy looked worse than he does!
I usually notice stuff like this much more quickly, but when I haltered him, I was focused on his feet and didn't even look at his face. It's hard to tell in the photo, but it looks like he scraped his lower lid. It's all dried up, and it wasn't particularly sensitive to touch. It's just swollen and unsightly.
Before I saw his eye, I had planned on doing a regular schooling ride, but after I saw it, I ditched that plan. I've had some eye issues myself over the past year and know how irritating it can be to try and focus (mentally) when you can't see well. Given our limited light anyway, I was happy to just swipe a brush over his back and throw on my riding halter.
I didn't even change out of my muck boots to ride. We were both bootless as a matter of fact. And I know I've shared this a million times already, but Speedy has the world's most awesome bareback space upon which to lounge. His back is so wide and flat that even a non-rider would have trouble falling off.
We did our regular neighborhood loop which included a stop at the apple tree for a few late fall apples. If there were apple trees in a dressage court, Speedy's leg yield would earn a 10 every time. It's amazing how well he moves sideways when it comes to sidling up next to a treat!
We also passed by the Haner's farm. The turkeys were gobbling and the goats were making all kinds of noises. Speedy gave them an interested glance, but he knows his job by now and didn't do much other than flag his tail in salute and blow a bit.
We stopped for some obligatory grazing; Speedy expects it. He knows that trail rides are about relaxing and enjoying our time together. As we continued on past the corner of our property line, we spotted Izzy in Laurel's turn out. When I called to him, he trotted about three steps towards us, but then he froze. He's still too nervous to use the length of the turn out alone. We continued on while he whirled and galloped back toward the barn. Silly boy!
When we finished up, I gave Speedy's eye another check. It looked the same. I am not worried about it as it was just a slight scrape. We're going to the cabin this weekend, so I won't be able to ride until Sunday at the earliest. I am sure it will be all healed up by then. I can't speak to the other guy's condition though. Hopefully Speedy gave as good as he got.
Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday.
The farrier was out a few days ago, which is always interesting. I don't get to see my farrier very often as I am usually at work when he comes. This was the last time I'll get to see him until Christmas at the earliest.
The first thing Paul wanted to know was how Speedy was doing. Going barefoot is a new strategy for us that is turning out to be far more successful, not to mention cheaper, than we expected. We have very dry footing here that is either rock hard or sandy. We weren't sure that Speedy's hooves could hold up to those kind of abrasive conditions.
Paul was really pleased with how Speedy's feet looked. Not only was there no new bruising, but Speedy had actually managed to grow a fair amount of hoof that Paul could trim and shape. Our worry had been that he would wear off more hoof than he could grow. It seems we worried over nothing.
Paul's assistant, Walker, pulled old shoes and trimmed Izzy's feet while we were busy with Speedy. I didn't ask how his feet looked. I was more concerned with how he behaved. He wasn't naughty, but he did do some wiggling. Rather than get upset, Walker just stood at his head distracting him while Paul finished shoeing the front feet.
Paul's method is kind and gentle which the horses seem to really appreciate. Both men work quietly and confidently with the horses' happiness in mind. They realize that happy horses will ultimately make their jobs a lot easier.
Having been able to watch them work for the last three visits has left me feeling quite confident in their ability to do their jobs with my horses' best interests at heart. Next time they come, my only job will be to leave a check. How nice that a horse related expense is actually getting lower!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read