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Hoofing it

Made it to the stables this afternoon for a conservative 1 hour session that didn't involve any heavy lifting, unless you count holding a quarter of a horse at a time. This time I left before I started to limp, but still felt I'd contributed something without wasting anyone's time, and yet learned things. Nice combo that.

zebra363 I was thinking of you today: I decreed it Hoof Day.

Normally the horses get their feet picked out at the start of the day, and only optionally after that, so it's something I've not done as an afternoon person. As a matter of fact, I've never cleaned the inside of a horse's feet, which in hindsight is a slightly disturbing omission from horse care lessons. Did the poor horses at Broadacres (etc) never get their feet checked unless they were actually lame? At riding camps we were taught the basics of how to lift feet, but not what to do with them after that. In theory (and under supervision) we were completely responsible for our horses for a week solid, but the hooves never got touched unless someone actually threw a shoe. In pony books no-one moved an inch without a hoof pick in hand, and they were forever picking out stones.

So, I had a rough idea of hoof anatomy, just enough to know that the froggy parts were sensitive and shouldn't really be attacked with a pointy metal tool. But what to do if the whole foot is packed out with mud?

Fortunately I'm comfortable with publicly announcing my ignorance and requesting education, so I (and co-incidentally the other new volunteers in the vicinity) got a quick lesson in theory and anatomy (with diagrams), a bunch of hints and tips from the experienced volunteers, and then a demo and supervised cleaning with the coach. Awesome. But I was faced again with the eternal question: how clean is clean enough? In other words, what were my exit conditions? What were the customer acceptance requirements? Am I done yet?

And it's all very well to know I need to "check the hoof" but for what, exactly? I spotted a hanging bit of tissue: was that A Bad Thing? Yes and no: it didn't need immediate attention, but would be trimmed by the farrier on his next visit. What about that missing boot? It came off yesterday but he's OK with one for now. So much to learn, but I'm up for it. I'm revelling in it. Purrrr purr purrrrr purrrr.

Unfortunately by the time I was in a position to ask about hoof conditions (upside-down supporting a hindquarter of horseflesh and getting swished in the face by a tail), the coach was taking a phone call so I was left hanging, so to speak, for a bit longer than necessary. I think I'm feeling it in my back already, but I didn't think about my posture at all at the time. More practice, more thinking.

Under observation I managed to make a hash out of putting on a bridle. My brain knows what to do but my hands have forgotten. More practice, less thinking.

I tied some effective knots, but clumsily. More practice, a lot less thinking, and maybe less looking :-)

Next week I get a lesson on leading large horses through double gates.

I got to work in some horse scalp massage which went down well. My hands know what to do. After a few minutes lucky Lockey stopped stamping, swishing and twitching away flies. Then he started to close his eyes, drop his head and finally wobble. I love it when they wobble :-)


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 24th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)
I am living vicariously through you for this.
Mar. 24th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
I live vicariously through you all the time :-)
Mar. 24th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
Well then - we have a fine symbiotic relationship happening! :) I may need to pick your organisational and educational brain re project organisation stuffs if i get one of these job contracts i'm being put forward for :)
Mar. 24th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I get to be a symbiote rather than a parasite!

You're welcome to pick my brain, but you've seen it, right? It gets messy in there.
Mar. 24th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of a symbiont better. :)

I like your messy :)

Also, i think you should see these...
Mar. 24th, 2010 11:24 am (UTC)
I am so glad that you are able to do this.
Mar. 24th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
Me too :-)
Mar. 24th, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
I love it when they wobble :-)

Mar. 24th, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
Huh, dealing with quarter horses. Oh, quarter OF horses. Right.
Mar. 24th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
They don't easily divide into thirds.
Mar. 25th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
The frog shouldn't be sensitive unless there's something wrong. You couldn't possibly do it any damage with a hoof pick unless you were extremely strong and very determined. Remember, wild horses gallop over rocks on those things!

The general standard of hoof care knowledge in the entire horse and veterinary industries is so low that it would be amazing if there was anyone there who could give you good advice on caring for hooves.
Mar. 25th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC)
Also, if the hooves are a healthy shape and trimmed correctly (again, unlikely!), they shouldn't need cleaned out very often unless the horses are standing around in muck and don't have much room to move. No one cleans wild horse feet!
Mar. 25th, 2010 04:18 am (UTC)
I think the morning clean is mostly about having regular inspections. Checking the tyres, so to speak. The point was made that cleaning was more important in muddy conditions, mainly to allow inspection. All the ground they walk on is soft (but with enough small gumnuts to provide hazards), so if their feet do get packed with muck there's not much opportunity to scrape it out naturally.

BTW they're not shod.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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Stephanie Bateman-Graham

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