Friday, December 3, 2010

Frosty Ride with Whinnies and the Farrier Visits

It was pretty cold this morning - with a slight wind the wind chill was about 10F (-12C), but bright and sunny.  After I did chores and cleaned my stalls, Pie and I went for a solo trail ride.  The temperature was rising, but the wind picked up a little, so the wind chill was still probably in the low teens.  By the end of the ride, my feet and hands were a bit cold, but the rest of me was OK.  We did two big loops away from and back to the barn, and were out for about 45 minutes.  We hadn't been on a solo ride for a while, and on the first loop Pie had to overcome the challenge of Scout calling and calling for him - Fred and Fritz were in the barn having their feet done so Scout was by himself and missing Pie.  Other than being a little bit sticky on the way out, calling a few times to Scout and wanting to speed up (but no jigging - he never jigs) on the way home (serpentines did the trick for that when asking him to slow didn't calm him down), Pie was outstanding.

Then we did a second loop away from the barn.  In an area of the trail where the grasses were very tall (10 feet or so), some animal apparently rustled in the grass next to the trail (I never heard it) and Pie did a really big spook, leaping about 10 feet sideways and around so we ended up facing the opposite direction on the far side of the trail.  I really didn't have any trouble staying on - my butt didn't even leave the saddle and I kept my hands still so the reins stayed nice and loose - which pleased me to no end - if I can ride through that I'm good to go even if he does spook.  Something that perhaps helped is that I try to keep my legs and back very relaxed when riding, so that if something like this happens I can just go with the motion.  What really impressed me was how Pie behaved afterwards.  I turned him back in the direction I wanted to go and he just walked past the spook spot and on out like nothing had happened - apparently in his case once the spook is over the spook is over and he doesn't carry tension forward from that point.  I've never had a horse like that before - my others, once they'd spooked, would have been worried and tense afterwards.  He also stayed relaxed on this loop as we headed back to the barn.  Good Pie!

Pie's also practicing untying himself.  I tie him to a post next to the barn for grooming and saddling - there's no ring, so I wrap the rope around and then over the top of the post and finish it off with the end of the rope pulled through in a quick release loop.  There's a bit of grass under the post, and Pie's figured out how to get loose to get to it.  If grabbing the end of the rope and pulling it loose doesn't work, he rubs his nose under the rope that wraps around the post and pushes it up from both sides until it comes off the top.  It's fun to watch him work things out like this - he's a smart boy - but I'll have to figure out a more secure way to tie him, although all he does when he gets free is nibble the available grass.

A bit later in the morning, while I was waiting for my farrier, I took Dawn out and we did about 15 minutes of ground driving, both up and down the trails in sight of the barn and also doing some patterns in the arena using our cones.  I left her blanket on - she gets blanketed on days like this although most of the other horses don't need to be.  She was really good and seemed to enjoy the outing.  I was planning on doing some scary object work using clicker and the Desenex spray can she's worried about, but just then the farrier arrived.  Dawn got her front snow shoes (she's barefoot behind), just in time for the snow we're supposed to be getting tonight and tomorrow.  The shoes look like this (this is one of Maisie's old ones):


These shoes have their advantages and disadvantages.  The advantages are the rough borium spots at the toe and heel that provide traction, and the rubber bulge in the middle that flexes as the horse walks, popping out the snow and preventing snow balls from forming.  The disadvantage is that the extra traction can put more stress on joints and soft tissues when a horse is playing - the horse is more likely to come to an abrupt stop or put torque stresses on legs.  In Dawn's case, the advantages on balance outweigh the disadvantages.  She is already in front shoes, and does well in them, and leaving regular shoes on over the winter is a bad idea - they slip easily and ice balls form inside the shoe.  She plays very hard, and slipping is a real risk for her, so on went the snow shoes.

Pie on the other hand is barefoot and doing very well that way - he's comfortable even over rocks and gravel although if he were going long distances on rough ground I'd be inclined to put boots on him.  Barefoot horses generally do very well on snow and slippery ground, although no horse can go across sheer ice safely and even barefoot horses will sometimes get snow balls if the snow is very wet.  Pie had his first-ever trim by a farrier this morning.  The farrier confirmed that he had great feet.  Almost nothing needed to come off the sole (his prior owner kept him in a pasture that was pretty rocky so his feet got a good bit of wear), the frogs only needed a little cleaning up and the walls needed some trimming.  And, what do you know, Pie was absolutely perfect for the farrier (although he did make the "Pie face" from time to time to let me know he was being imposed on!) - I should have known he would do just fine!  Good Pie (again)!

24 comments:

  1. Good Pie! Sounds like we both had good rides!

    I feel funny compaining about our 33 degree weather, being as yours is so much colder, but taht is cold for us! Plus when were in the low teens a few weeks ago, THAT was cold! :)

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  2. Toby and Chance tend to spook and "get over it," so I know how good that can be. Tucker holds on longer. *sigh*

    I too find sitting kind of loosely to start off with is the best way to ride a spook. If you are tense and expecting trouble, it's a lot harder to go with the sudden movement.

    Pie is going to be a bit of a challenge with his cleverness, I think. When I see a horse working like that to untie himself, I can only imagine all the other little bits of mischief he'll get into if given half a chance. But it makes the horse so much more fun!! Personality plus.

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  3. Silly horses. Ever tried easywalker horse shoes? You can get ones with pads that pop snow out. We found the hooves were much healthier and they had plenty of traction (we drive pulling large carriages a lot) but the concussion of the hoof hitting the ground is very similar to the bare foot in tests done on them. We used to use borium spots, we found the shoes wore down slower but the horses slipped on the pavement more.

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  4. That Pie is sounding like a treasure find more and more...worth his weight in gold. :)

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  5. Good stuff. You're tougher than me - going out in 10 degree weather. I guess I'm too old or my blood's too thin.

    Dan

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  6. Sounds like your Pie is a treasure. My girl also gets over a spook right away. Love it big time. If she can't untie it, my girl figured out that if she rubs her poll just the right way, she can pop off her halter in an instant!!! Hope Pie doesn't figure that one out.

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  7. I was laughing so hard at Pie untying himself. What a smart horse!

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  8. My boy is also a "spook ... then it's over" type of guy. I have also never had a horse like this before and it is really a blessing! Sounds like Pie is a real gem. :-)

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  9. I personally don't think you could have chosen a better horse. He seems just perfect in every way! Glad he's not one to hold the spookiness, once it's done it's done. That's a pleasure.

    He's a fun smart horse, and quite a budding locksmith. We have one of those too, Blue our QH paint. He'll work on something until he gets it open. Hence, all the locks on everything around here. Enjoy your days with Pie and Dawn, hope not too much snow comes your way.

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  10. It sounds like you are enjoying getting to know Pie. Kind of like opening a really good present :)

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  11. That Pie! he is really good. It's great that he recovered so nicely after his superspook. And a smart, curious horse is not a bad partner to have at all. That makes for a real nice partnership in the ring or on the trail. I bet Pie likes being out on the trail.
    I wonder about using those snow shoes like you have pictured. Usually I put a rim pads on Lilly and they have been terrific, but I have always been curious about that option....

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  12. Kate...I think your horses love you, for all the quality attention you give them. Good Pie and Good Dawn!

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  13. That sounds like a really big spook! Yikes!

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  14. I just wanted to say that your grasses are taller than most of our trees. :(

    Pie sounds like such a sweetie! My first spooker, Silky, taught me how to have a relaxed seat and stay with her. It's so much easier if you're balanced with your legs draped around the horse.

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  15. I got a good giggle picturing Pie working at untying himself--we have a very mouthy OTTB who frequently manages to untie himself, but there's definitely no thought going on with that one!

    Your riding through the cold really encourages me to continue riding through the winter! Here in Asheville, we've just gotten to the 20s at night, days hovering in the 40s. I had my lesson this morning, though, and it was about 35 when I mounted. I have old (about 3 years) Ariat insulated boots, but I found that my feet were FROZEN after only about 15 minutes. Of what is your winter riding gear (boots, socks, tights, etc) composed?

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  16. Natasha - I'm a big believer in silk long underwear. Then I layer - I've got insulated Irideon riding tights with half chaps, and I wear a Mountain Horse coat, over a turtleneck and sometimes a fleece. I have trouble with my left ear and the left side of my face in the wind, so I usually wear an ear warmer and a balaclava under my riding helmet. My gloves are insulated Ovations (I think) - they've got good feel and are pretty warm. I was wearing my regular Ariat boots today rather than the insulated ones - they've got an ankle cuff that bothers me but I need to be using them anyway.

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  17. Pie is a great horse and I really enjoy reading about him. Also, just wanted to say that your current header picture is one of my favorites!

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  18. Wow...a 10 foot spook and 10 foot tall grass! lol! And I was grinning at what Funder said....yes, you're grass is taller than most of our trees (which are basically just over-sized juniper shrubs)

    Good for you sticking to the saddle so well. When Baby Doll did her teleportation spook, I stayed on for the first jump sideways because I was very relaxed, but when she spooked quickly again, I must have stiffened up (it's a blur now to remember) because that's when I fell off. She was full of huge moves. I was told Baby Doll ran barrels and did reining and cutting, and I'm not surprised. Her spins were intense! and her bolts.....were like a bolt of lightning...from zero to 20mph in one leap!

    I'm glad that Apache is a spook-in-place kind of horse. She would rather not waste energy on big spooks and prefers to check out whatever the spooky thing is instead.

    Stay warm and dry there. We are having unseasonal temperatures here this winter. I'm worried that we won't even have snow for Christmas this year.
    Yesterday we went hiking and it was close to 60F. Weird!

    ~Lisa

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  19. Lisa - it's often the second (or third) spook (or buck) that gets you! Pie is usually a spook-in-place stop-and-stare kind of guy, so this must have been extra scary - I expect there were mountain lions where he grew up and he may still be looking for them!

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  20. I'm a here and there reader - is Pie the one in your main photo at the top of the page? If so, it suits him. :)

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  21. hey cool blog im am so glad it is the middle of summer where i am and that it never snows or even gets below freezing

    please check my blog to you might like it

    www.wildhorseproject.blogspot.com

    my journery with my horse from the wild

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  22. EveryoneThinks - that's the Pie man himself!

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  23. Thanks for the pic of the snow shoe. I've heard about them but never actually seen one before. We didn't used to get enough snow to need such a shoe but the way things look for this year things might be different.

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