I’m not adamantly on team shoes or team barefoot (for horses, I’m definitely team shoes for humans), but I do see the benefit in pulling a horse’s shoes off when he isn’t working hard to allow his feet to adapt to life without shoes. This can strengthen the hoof wall and some research indicates that barefoot trimming can help horses who have underrun heels (a common problem amongst off track Thoroughbreds). One research article even indicated that a shod horse going barefoot for even a few weeks led to a hoof with characteristics that are known to improve soundness
Jaguar has been without shoes since his retirement, with the only exception being when he tore his hoof from the sole up to the coronet band and required a bar shoe while it grew out. Coco cannot be without shoes because she has a slight club foot and needs to support of the shoe. Simon requires at least front shoes during hunt season for no reason other than he’s tender footed on rocks. He’s got lovely hooves, especially for an off-track Thoroughbred, but his soles have always been quite sensitive. Hunt season generally goes from November to March so he’s shod from September to April. 5 months hasn’t been long enough the past 2 summers for him to be barefoot and have his hooves actually acclimate to being barefoot.
Enter coronapocolypse. Hunt season ended prematurely (early March) and the trips I had planned to go hunting outside of Texas also were canceled. This could be the PERFECT summer for Simon’s feet to really acclimate to being barefoot! I had my farrier pull his shoes on March 21. Typical for Simon he was quite sore for a few weeks. Our property is fairly rocky and he noticeably avoided the rocky areas. I put Seashore Acres Sole Paint on his feet every evening when he came in for the night to help build toughness in his soles. By late April he was starting to seem a bit better.
A very handsome and barefoot Simon after a ride. He’s quite wild.
In May we went trail riding with friends a couple times and on one particular ride his feet took quite a beating on some very rocky ground and I felt like a big jerk! I knew I couldn’t continue to go on trail rides and not offer his feet at least some sort of protection.
Enter, hoof boots. I listen to a daily podcast called Horses in the Morning and there is a monthly episode about Endurance riding. I’ve never really wanted to try Endurance riding, but I really enjoy the episodes and one of the sponsors is Renegade Hoof Boots. I’ve heard for years how great these boots are for endurance rides and how easy they are to put on the horse, so I thought maybe this could be a solution to protecting Simon’s feet while allowing him to remain barefoot for the summer. So, I ordered a 2 boots! I measured his hooves according to the detailed description on the website and selected some black ones (I’m a hunter after all, no crazy colours for me!) in his size. They come in singles, which I could see being nice if you had a horse with different sized feet (like Coco).
Simon is quite tolerant of all the things, but I wasn’t sure how he’d react to his new hoof boots. He can be a bit klutzy so I was worried the hoof boots would make that worse which might scare him, but I was pleasantly surprised. I tried them on him and they seemed to fit great and were VERY easy to get on and adjust to his hooves. The directions were straightforward and simple. They definitely aren’t going to win him any show hunter cool kid points (and are probably dangerous for jumping), but they aren’t offensive.
Simon trying on his new kicks for the very first time.
For the first ride we just walked and trotted a tiny bit around the property. I specifically took him to a few extra rocky places so he’d know he could walk over those rocks and nary a rock would bother his tootsies (well, at least the front ones). He did great and I could tell he started to figure out that his feet were in fact protected and he got braver about walking right through rocky areas that he usually avoids. The only minor issue that he seemed to have was overreaching and clipping the boots with his hind feet. I posted in a Facebook group after that ride and got advice to go ahead and use bell boots the next time he wears them, which makes sense since he usually needs bell boots with his regular shoes.
Another photo because he’s cute and likes his picture taken.
A few days after that first ride the Renegades made their maiden voyage on a trail ride, but this time with bell boots. It had rained quite a lot the night before the trail ride so the trails were very muddy and I was a bit concerned the mud might suck the boots off his feet. The only issue he had with the boots all day was at the beginning of the ride he spooked at a fawn that jumped up and went running through the trees. He pivoted away on his front feet when he spooked which seemed to cause one of the boots to twist around his hoof. I got off, straightened the boot back, and adjusted it quite a bit tighter than it had been. And let me tell you that mounting block (or in this case tree stump) training is very important when you are out on a trail ride and have to get on a 16.2h horse with no real mounting block. We rode about 8 miles the rest of the morning and the boots were perfect! We went through lots of water and mud and grass and they stayed on perfectly. The trail was quite rocky in a few places so I was glad he had good hoof protection. We are officially now hoof boot devotees.
We are off and running on all the trail rides for the rest of the summer, or at least until it gets unbearably hot in Texas! I highly recommend the Renegades both for riding a barefoot horse as well as having around in case your horse pulls a shoe. These things are tough and they fit really well.
The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but there is a large beaver dam on the creek that Simon is looking at. It’s nice to see so much green grass in late June!
Hi! It’s great to “see” you again! I took a REAL long hiatus from blogging. In short, I lost my mojo. I struggle a little bit with blogging because it seems inherently selfish. WHO CARES what I do, where I go, how I ride, when I ride, where I shop, what are my opinions, etc?! However, I’m a journaler. I have kept a journal nearly as long as I could write and I find it cathartic to write things out. My journaling activity really slowed down after I got married and “real” life started. Then I started blogging in 2014 and it felt right, mostly. I look back on many posts and they seem a bit contrived and superficial. I’ve struggled my entire life caring way too much about “what other people think” and this showed up in my blog. The voice often doesn’t sound like me.
I’m restarting BSBC (this acronym is pretty funny to me because I am Human Resources Manager professionally and I administer medical insurance plans and frequently refer to BCBS which is Blue Cross Blue Shield. I’m likely the only person who thinks this is funny) not because I think anyone gives a hoot about the things listed previously, but because I’m never going to write a book and I find it fascinating to read about other people. It only seems fair to share my own story as I enjoy reading the stories of other bloggers and to scratch the itch of journaling. I’m here to document my life experience, thoughts, maybe some opinions, and whatever else for no reason other than to be able to go back and read it myself and to perhaps share something that is beneficial to someone someday.
The world is a bit upside down right now, so in many ways it seems like a horrible time to restart. I feel like I should have something profound to say or share about the Black Lives Matter movement, and I don’t. Other than that I’m aware of the privilege I have because I’m white and I’m determined to be an anti-racist and an ally. In that same vein, I haven’t (at least yet, I’m knocking on wood over here) been negatively affected by the coronapocolypse pandemic. I’m incredibly lucky to be in Texas where we had a TREMENDOUSLY strong economy going into the pandemic and so far has stayed fairly strong during the otherwise turbulent economic situation. I’m also fortunate to live on a few acres, so even when we were staying at home, we had plenty of space and things to do to never feel cabin fever. Boot City and I do our best to stay away from people and when we are in public we wear facemasks and thus far we have remained healthy.
So here is my re-start. I turned 40 the day Governor Abbott announced the Stay at Home order for Texas. I’ve been happily married for 15 years. We don’t have human offspring, by choice. I’ve had and ridden horses my entire life. I currently own 4 horses, 3 are at home and 1 is leased out to a lovely teenager. I have WAY too many dogs. WAY too many. 9 in the permanent collection and 1 foster. I also have 6 cats, 10 goats, 9 chickens, a pony and a donkey. I’m going to keep the “I” perspective, even though a lot of this is “we”, but let’s be honest. Boot City probably wouldn’t even have a fish if he had never married me. I’m going to tell my story and hope that someone else is entertained, learns something, feels camaraderie, gets a laugh, whatever it is that my sharing can bring to the world, and even better if I make a new friend. This won’t be an exclusively horse focused blog either, although that is a big part of my life. I don’t know of many other writers out there like me. Kind of middle aged (it really is so weird to write that!), married when youngish, no kids (on purpose), fulfilling (but not crazy demanding) career, and a hobby that is very resource intensive both from a financial and time commitment perspective.
I hope that as I blog more consistently I am more able to interact with readers. I’m tired of the social media interaction that feels so contrived and brief. It’s a great way to connect, but not really the best place to nurture relationships. And if you are reading this, I’d love feedback! Even if it’s just to say “hey, I read this!”
I’ll leave with my current favourite photograph, from Caroline Vaughn. She took this at the Opening Meet for Brazos Valley Hounds last November. I’ve had a lot of wonderful horses over the years and while Simon is only 6, he’s proving to be a pretty strong contender for my “heart horse”. Until next time my friends.
It’s Friday! Yay! Hopefully at this time next week I will be watching some amazing show jumping at the World Equestrian Games. Cross your fingers and send prayers that Hurricane Florence decides to skip the Tryon area of North Carolina!
A few weeks ago I brought a friend’s OTTB to my house on his way to a couple months at finishing school. KHorse thought that Pablo was excited to meet him, but really Pablo just wanted his food.
Pablo is never not thinking about food.
Last weekend Annie got bit by a snake. Poor girl. When it first happened it really didn’t look very bad and it hardly swelled at all.
The bite is on her left paw.
I hadn’t been paying very close attention to the chickens and evidently we had a broody hen in the coop for a few weeks! We REALLY hope this is a hen! We don’t need any more roosters.
Baby chook in her cage with her heat lamp.
A few days on and Annie’s foot actually looks pretty bad. It is difficult to get her to stop licking her paw and she’s limping now. We may try to wrap it if she continues to lick and it gets worse.
Poor Annie. Her paw has some necrotic tissue, but it doesn’t help that she won’t stop licking.
Open and close gates/sidepass to and from solid objects like fences
Go in contact
Get out and about as much as possible
#1 is coming along nicely. #2 is a bit of a challenge to the right. As with many former racehorses, the left lead is easy but the right lead is SO HARD (American racetracks run in a circle that is counterclockwise so the horses turn left around the track). When we practice getting the right lead and he gets the left lead time after time, he has to keep working. As soon as he gets the right lead he gets lots and lots of pats and then gets to walk for a bit.
Last night we were working on cantering and getting leads and I got a wild hair to pop him over a couple of the crossrail jumps I have set up in my arena. When Sterling was starting out and we had trouble getting the canter, I would pop him over a small jump and land in the canter. So I wanted to try that with Simon. He felt SO good over the jumps so I begged Boot City to come take some video so I could see if he looks as cute as he feels over jumps.
(Enjoy the super cheesy music on the videos. I couldn’t help myself.)
He is SO CUTE over these teeny tiny jumps! SO. CUTE.
And every time we went over the jump to the right he landed on the right lead. I think we may be onto something here!
He’s only four years old and I promised myself that I won’t even try to get him jumping a full course until he’s five. Even after a short track career, and some known issues with one of his knees, I want him to have lots of time to grow and mature before his body gets worked very hard. Plus I really do need him as my hunt horse, so that is his first priority!
I am LOVING this horse and the fact that, as of today, he’s the youngest in my string and hands down the easiest!
I’m still riding the high of Justify’s Triple Crown win this weekend so wanted to a post about his uncle!
Photo credit to Barbara Livingston. This is by far my favorite race photo from Justify’s bid for the Triple Crown. This one is from the Preakness.
Justify is by Scat Daddy out of a mare named Stage Magic who is by Ghostzapper. As you may recall from my previous post, Simon is by Ghostzapper. Which means that Simon is Justify’s uncle! This relation has strongly contributed to my obsession with Justify. I’ve also been closely following McCraken’s racing career, but it has not proved to be quite as illustrious as Justify’s (McCraken is a son of Ghostzapper and contested the Kentucky Derby last year, coming in 8th).
I’ve owned Simon for a little over a year now. I purchased him in January of 2017 and after his vet check and communication with his last race trainer I opted to give him a very easy 12 months. His race trainer indicated he had some issues with one of his knees and he came to me with some injuries from a run-in with some mares in the pasture he had been living. I’ve had off the track Quarter Horses, but never a thoroughbred and everything I read about OTTBs (off the track thoroughbred) indicated that time off would cure most ailments horses have from their track life. Plus I had two other horses to ride and show so it worked out better for my schedule.
I rode Simon maybe a dozen times in all of 2017 and he was always a lazy plug. ALWAYS. I took him on a couple trail rides and you’d have never known he had been a six figure yearling race prospect and was only three years old. He crossed bridges, didn’t spook at wildlife and seemed to really not care if he was in front, in the middle or at the back of the group of horses we were with. Basically he was a dream trail horse, albeit a very tall one (most trail riding horses are closer to 15hh and he is nearly 16.2hh).
One thing you cannot deny about Simon is that he is very handsome. I love that he has the big blaze on his face, but nary a white hair on the rest of his body.
I opted to not use him for foxhunting last season (his intended job when I purchased him) to let him grow up some more plus I rode another member’s horse for the season to give that horse some much needed miles. It was a win-win for us all.
Well, now it is time for Simon to have a job. I’ve committed to getting at least 3 rides on him every week and building his skills to make him a pleasant hunt horse. He needs to stand quietly for mounting, move off leg quickly, stand still when necessary, sidepass to open and close gates and (most importantly) tolerate hounds around his legs. As I write this post he stands great for mounting and has started moving off leg nicely. He will sidepass in the open, but he thinks I’m nuts when I ask him to sidepass towards solid obstacles like trees, fences and gates. He hasn’t been around hounds yet, but he does fine with my dogs around him.
I am also trying to get him out on trail rides as much as possible. This serves many purposes. He gets practice loading and riding in the trailer, going out on uneven terrain, riding with other horses, crossing water, seeing wildlife, and afterwards he has to stand tied at the trailer while we have a snack or lunch. We have been out twice this summer and Simon has been perfect in every way. I am astonished at how well he’s taking to his life of leisure, still at only 4 years old!
Our most recent trail ride. That is the Brazos River behind us. Photo cred to Bart Robbins!
Suffice it to say that all is going very well with My Man Zapper these days. We hope to get many more trail rides and some play days on our calendar this summer. By November he should be a seasoned trail horse so all he will have to adapt to will be the hounds and riding out alone. I am so lucky to have this special horse!
Do you have an OTTB? I love to hear stories from other OTTB owners, especially those who got their horse right off the track. They are special horses and so often overlooked.
I’m back! I feel like I have my blogging ducks in a row now, but that can always change. I would love MORE feedback from my readers! If you like a post, please comment. If you want to know more about something, please tell me. If a blog is boring/offensive/fantastic, let me know. I sometimes feel like I’m writing into an abyss and getting feedback helps me stay motivated and write interesting content.
We have a somewhat unique lifestyle that people seem interested in learning about it, and that is the primary reason I started this blog. I love writing, too, so that is my selfish reason for blogging. I’m hoping to maintain more “themed” days so readers will know which days to tune in if there is content they find more interesting. I presume most non-riders get bored when I write posts about the details or riding and showing, but I enjoy reading the blogs of other riders so I like to add my 2 cents about that every now and again.
This post will be somewhat of a catch-up on goings-on at the farm as well as some just silly pics of the farm animals. Enjoy!
Chivas has been somewhat on lock-down the past 2 months because she has some serious seasonal allergies. We haven’t gotten her officially tested, but every spring she gets mad itchy and is a tiny ball of oozing, itchy sores and keeps us up at night with her scratching and chewing on herself. This year has been the best for keeping that itching at bay, but it reared it’s ugly head in mid-May so we opted to try to keep her in the house and not take her out for rides and feeding. This is how she feels about being left in the house.
Who knew a 13lb dog could TEAR UP a giant dog bed…..
I posted before my blog break that we had a surprise set of twin goats. They are adorable baby goats as all baby goats are, but they are also weirdos. This is a photo of them nursing from their aunt Punky. Punky doesn’t currently have any kids and hasn’t had any kids since last summer. Their mom, Penelope, is producing plenty of milk for them, but for some reason they have also started nursing from Punky. We have never had kids do this! Punky and Penelope were part of a set of triplets and Penelope had to be bottle-fed because the Mom only had one teat to nurse from. Since the kids are nursing from her, Punky has gotten milk in her udder. Kind of a fascinating little social/ag experiment going on here.
The twins and their aunt Punky.
It has gotten hot in Texas so Murtagh has more or less moved in the tack room with AC 24/7. He also has mites in his ears that we are treating so I like that he’s happy staying close to home. He is just the sweetest kitty in the whole world!
In early May the horses came running to the barn from turnout to be put up for the night. Coco and Simon walked into the barn aisle where Boot City was opening stall doors to their various stalls. Coco turned and pinned her ears at Simon and he in turn tried to turn away from her a little too quickly on the concrete floor and fell down. It was one of those stomach-in-your-throat moments as he lay there and waited to get up. When he got up he was CLEARLY lame on his left hind. We got the other horses put away and fed them their dinner and I went to taking pics and video to send to my vet. Within an hour Simon could hardly walk.
We approached the injury fairly conservatively (my vet didn’t seem at all worried that he had broken anything) with stall rest, cold hosing, bute and poultice. Thankfully it only took a couple weeks for him to be almost 90% sound. I erred on the side of caution and kept him on stall and then paddock rest for a full 3 weeks before he was clearly stir crazy, not hurting and about to do something stupid when his friends got turned out and he had to stay in the barn. While he was sore he was a perfect gentleman on stall rest and even behaved for Boot City when he had to do the cold hosing and poulticing while I was away at a horse show with Sterling. Simon is a very wise and calm horse for only being 4 years old.
Poultice and stall rest o-rama
It took a good few months for her to settle in, but Ouiser finally seems to be happy and content in our house. She didn’t leave “her” room for about 2 months and now she more or less has the run of the house. She loves to sun bath in window sills and she is very chatty with Boot City and me.
Ouiser getting out and about in her house
Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is our dear Pablo. Pablo appears to have foundered or something similar and he WILL NOT let us catch him to try to see what is up. He lies down a lot. Stands on soft ground as much as possible. Appears sore when he moves out. We fear that his refusal to let us treat him will result in an earlier than necessary demise and believe me when I say we have tried working with him. Donkeys are “stubborn”. Everyone knows this, but you don’t really understand it until you have had a donkey. They don’t forget anything and they are not at all trustful.
Someone has mistreated Pablo and he refuses to get over that. We have, in the past, forced him to let us vet his legs/feet, give him meds, etc, but it just isn’t worth it. He will occasionally go into an enclosure where he knows we can catch him and let us groom him or trim his feet or whatever, but he seems to be doing that less lately. We don’t really know how old he is, but we have had him for 11 years. All 11 of those years we have given him treats, groomed him and basically let him do what he wants, but he still is terrified of the halter and being caught. His feet don’t look bad and he’s eating just fine (as you can see by his belly!), so he’s not suffering. We got 10 semi-loads of sand in April and he’s been loving rolling in it, sleeping in it and standing on the piles.
If you are an actual donkey-whisperer, I’d be happy to hear your advice for dear Pablo.
Pablo on his empire of sand
Please comment if there is anything I don’t write about enough or that you are just interested to know more about. Thank you for being here and reading about our little corner of Texas and the interwebs! Happy weekend and I hope it is cooler where you are than it is here.
FINALLY a week without any vet visits (at least so far)! I’ve ridden Sterling twice this week and he even tried to buck once! Clearly he is feeling better. Still trying to figure out what is causing Coco’s woes, but her rides have been better this week also. There are only two more fox hunts left this season and I haven’t been out in a few weeks so I’m excited to be back out again tomorrow.
Dickens surveying his domain while I tack up a horse for a ride. He’s so stinking cute when he isn’t going off property.
My birthday cupcake in Houston last weekend. Of COURSE it has a horse on it! I have no idea why I’m posing so awkwardly. Haha!
Coco and Simon in a rare moment of sharing instead of teeth baring and kicking each other.
I love my vet, but man am I tired of seeing and talking to him! Sterling is MUCH improved and I should be able to start riding him again early next week. THANK GOODNESS! Next up is to “fix” Coco. I think she is having mare issues, but vet wanted to rule out lameness so we finish that experiment this weekend and I feel pretty strongly will address hormones next. Good times. Thank you Simon and Jaguar for being “normal” as of late. Keep up the good work!
I feel like every Farm Friday will feature a photo of Patches sitting on one of our other dogs until she gets adopted. If you like chihuahuas you should totally adopt her. She is the sweetest, funniest little dog EVER!
Dear Murtagh, Don’t sunbath in the stall with the horse most likely to try to kill you. Love, Your family
Simon is getting lots of rides right now since he is pretty much the only horse I can ride. He is still cool as a cucumber 95% of the time. LOVE this OTTB!
Bunny participated in our pursuit to give the vets as much of our money as possible this month. We thought she had a rotten tooth, but turns out it was just a random abscess. She did get her teeth cleaned and a few removed, but the abscess was likely from a spider bite or something like that. It popped on the outside and is oozy now. Super gross.
I’m excited for a fun weekend with my girlfriends. I hope your weekend is wonderful and if you are in the great white north that your snow starts melting! Spring starts next week!
First off, I took zero pictures. I had no idea what to expect from a 3yo OTTB on hundreds of open acres for the first time and carrying my phone seemed like a recipe for disaster. I also didn’t have a safe way to tote it around since it is giant and I only had breeches pockets.
Some of Boot City’s family recently bought some property outside of Waco so horsey bestie and I headed down with our OTTB’s and her adorbs Welsh Cob mare to hit the trails with the fam and a neighbor. I was a bit apprehensive how he would behave as Simon had “come to life” on our last ride at home and went so far is to attempt to buck a couple times. Simon has a very level topline so it doesn’t take much for him to put his head down and let ‘er buck. Thankfully he’s quite lazy and very gangly so his attempts so far have just been entertaining. We also cantered for the first time since January on that ride. It is amazing how a horse that is SO awkward at the walk and trot can have such a lovely and balanced canter. Nevermind that you must ride EVERY stride or he will just stop. #lazyOTTB
Suffice it to say that he was a rock star on his first trail ride. It was the perfect environment for him and we couldn’t have dreamed up a better first experience. The company was calm and quiet, which was important to me for his first few outings. I want him to be comfortable with his pals on the trail and not be worried about any of them running away from the group or running up on the group. Once he is comfortable just ambling along a few times we will move up to trying some speed and taking forays away from the other horses.
On this ride he crossed a concrete creek bridge. Saw a few deer. Heard gunshots (it is dove hunting season in Texas) in near range for about 20 or 30 minutes. Rode through a group of cattle with calves. A couple birds flew out of cover when we rode by, but not big noisy birds. The property is lovely and has some nice roads throughout so we stuck to the paths. He never wanted to go faster other than speeding up his walk, but he wasn’t his completely slow ambling lazy self. He also stood tied to the trailer like a gentleman with his two girlfriends while we had lunch.
The laziest and sweetest OTTB!
We will be back down for another ride in the next few weeks, that is for sure! I might even get brave and take Sterling sometime to see if perhaps he does better on trail rides if he’s in a small group or even alone since he’s a hot mess in big groups. Many thanks to horsey bestie for coming along and bringing an extra horse and to Boot City’s family for hosting us and providing a yummy lunch!
Boot City and I both took some time off work this week to get some stuff done around the farm. Usually when we do this we get distracted and hardly accomplish anything on our to do list, but we did really well this time! Lots of gates built, arena sand delivered and some purging of Boot City’s metal collection.
Little Mickey is quite the snuggler. He has no idea that he only weighs about 5lb. He acts like he is a 70lb pack leader! So funny!
Casey is spoiled and gets 24/7 turnout, mostly because he is so well behaved and not a fat kid. He often has chicken buddies while he grazes during the day and the other horses are in their stalls.
Simon. Just because he is a lovebug and so cute.
It has become somewhat of a tradition for one of my hunt friends to host a gymkhana the weekend before the 4th of July. We were blessed with moderately cooler temps this year and had much fun!
I got a truck load of sand for my “arena” and the dogs and horses took full advantage of the sand pile. There was much dog wrastling and horses rolling!
It is never easy to see them go, but its time for these boys to move on. Boot City took them to the goat sale this morning. I always tell myself that they end up in a home similar to ours and get good lives.