Friday, December 4, 2009

Plans and feet

Here's why I never post any bold riding plans: Plans change.

Earlier this week, ~C and I decided to ride Palomino Valley today, and S and I were going to trailer across the highway to Hungry Valley for a (slight) change of pace on Saturday. S was going to take Tempus, the gelding, because neither of us think it's a real smart move to put my hussy in a trailer with Summer. The catch with Tempus is that he has some nerve damage in his face from a long-ago pasture accident, and he can not deal with stuff touching his face - like rain or snow. When the NWS put a chance of snow in the forecast for tomorrow, that nixed our Hungry Valley ride. I was still on with ~C til her truck made some very disturbing noises this morning, and then that was off too.

I have nothing but respect for the type of people who can say "Ok, next week I need to do 30 miles in five days of riding, so it'll be 5 miles Monday, speed work Tuesday, off Wednesday..." and so on. I am not, and will never be, one of those people. I try not to plan more than two days ahead, and I don't like to box myself into a corner, where, say, if I don't ride tomorrow I won't get to ride for the next three days so I have to ride tomorrow even if it's pouring down rain. I was hoping to do a long ride today, but since it didn't happen, I'll do a long (>5 miles) ride tomorrow or Sunday.


Dixie was in raging heat, so I figured we'd do a shorter ride at a faster speed today. And the Garmin was actually charged, so I got lap times and everything!

She is, unfortunately, a lot like me. She can walk at a good clip for miles and miles, but she doesn't have the muscles or stamina to do faster work yet. I don't think I'm pushing her too hard by asking for short faster days, but feel free to let me know if you think I'm doin it wrong! Our totals were 3.87 miles in 1:14, average of 3.1 mph.

We did our usual stop-and-go warmup for 20 minutes, then we headed out down the trail at a nice fast walk. Then we were attacked! We rounded a corner and a covey of quail exploded across the trail in front of us, all flappy feathers and blood-drenched talons and weird whirring noises from their robotic innards. Dixie froze, all on her own! She jumped a bit, but she didn't try to run. It took a LONG time before she felt ok to move on, but eventually we did.

Our first speed lap was .4 miles at 5.9 mph average. She mostly racked. Then a .2 mi cooldown, then a .2 mile speed lap at 8.7 mph - rack and canter. A long half-mile cooldown to get her thinking again, with just a few strides of trot here and there, then a little more fast work. She was getting tired at this point, and I had to ask her to continue instead of asking her to slow down. .15 miles at 6.4 mph of foxtrot, baby - a gait I'm getting very fond of - then .15 miles at a fast walk, then a final .15 miles of foxtrot at 7.4 mph. Then I dismounted, took off her bridle, loosened her girth, and hand-walked her home for the last half mile. She didn't sweat too hard, and she was lightly blowing but not out of breath.


Dixie's getting trimmed early next week, and I had the time and inclination to take pictures today, so these are my December '09 "before" pictures. I saw some very interesting things, and I really welcome any comments or hypotheses about them. Here's the whole set. It contains more views than what I'm linking here, so click over if you want to take a closer look.

Front feet, side view. Right is clubby, left is long-toed. This is the posture she usually stands in, and I suspect it contributes to the growth pattern.
Closer view, side

Right front solar. Pretty balanced, clefts are a little deep because the heels are a little long. White line could be tighter in the quarters.
Right front solar

Edit: Lythia noticed I got these pictures wrong

Here's the left front solar. The Weird Thing is kind of subtle in this picture. Bars look kind of long here, but maybe that's retained sole? This is the right front again!
Left front solar

Edit: Here's the left front, with the weird wear pattern and long bars.
Left front Weird View!
Left front asymmetrical

Her toe is totally worn asymmetrically! And it's worn on the OUTSIDE, not the lateral side! Here's my guess: she paddles. But does she paddle with the left foot only? Because the right toe is worn pretty evenly. Also of note: the bars really do look long in this picture.

Here's one more picture of her left front. This is from ground level, looking toward the back - I don't have a clue what the Latin would be.
Left front

Weird stuff I see here: The whole medial wall looks weird. Something's off about the line of the wall. There's some ridges on the medial wall, but her coronet band at the medial quarter isn't "pushed up" like I'd expect to see. If you look through the hay, you can clearly see how the lateral tip of the toe is worn more than the medial tip of the toe. This is SO WEIRD to me!

I'll point this all out to the trimmer next week, but I'd love to hear yall's thoughts on it. How do you think this should be addressed? What's going on here?


  1. If she's comfortable, that may just be her normal foot. My mare paddles a bit with both fronts, but it's improved by fitness. As long as she's happy, I wouldn't go changing a lot about the foot or its angle - that's just my opinion but then I'm not a trimmer either so take it for what it's worth!

  2. wow, trippy. i just got done trimming and photographing baasha's feet. just now. and i get to see yours! dry-climate feet look so different to me!

    baasha also has a right front club foot and stands like that most of the time.

    thanks for sharing. she really is a pretty girl.


  3. wait a minute, where is the left front solar view? it looks like you have two shots of the right front. am i wrong?

    so, about the little white line openings at the quarters, why does this happen? i have the same issue sometimes, and it drives me crazy that little rocks get stuck in there. that can't feel good. but i see it on so many horses.

    my hoof trimmer said it was no big deal, but...i'm still curious.


  4. My mare paddles on her RF, moves the other feet "normally", and her RF looks different from the other three. The foot looks different because she uses it differently. It is also the foot she has forward 90% of the time when she grazes.

    We trim her to minimize the paddling (her foot grows high outside on the funky foot) but since it's the way she is *made* as much as the way it *grows*, I don't intend to fix the foot, but rather work on building her strength and flexibility so that her whole body can support the single wonky wheel over time and distance.

    So far, so good.

    I'll be watching your blog with interest to see your progress!

  5. I'm so glad to see someone else with a similar conditioning strategy to mine. ;)

    I had all sorts of plans that then my back went out. Now my plans are December pretty much off for my two horses. Then ramping it back up in January with some paid arena time.

    Dixie's feet look good. I can see the issues that you are seeing, but also agree that if she's happy and traveling well, that's a good thing! My mare also gets the slight open white line at the quarters. I do my own trimming and scoop the quarter area. Otherwise, I don't worry too much about it.

    Part of the rings and wall angles may well adjust themselves, as she adjusts to being with you. I am sure that there were changes in diet and activity. What about climate? Did she come from somewhere else? That would effect her feet too.

    And I would LOVE to have a GPS for knowing what I was doing in our training sessions. I have to trust trail markers and what I can glean from the road riding we do and yahoo or bing maps distances. It's hardly exact. I also want a heart rate monitor. Which to get first is the question?

  6. Whew. I got some reassuring emails, and yall's reassuring comments, and I'm not so upset today. Last night I had worked myself into a tizzy about that foot.

    Lythia, you're totally right - I put up two RF solar views and mislabled one of them. The third solar picture is definitely the weird LF, though. I edited the post to fix the labels!

    I have no idea about the white line separation. It's never been really bad, and I wouldn't call it WLD. It's gradually improving over time - her toes are tight now, and I hope one day her quarters will be too!

    AareneX - Yeah, I'm really wary of trimming the hoof to be "perfect" and ignoring that it's a product of its environment. Champ had very high inside rear heels, and he was really cowhocked. I never attacked the rear hooves really aggressively, because I figured the hooves were supporting the bones and vice versa. I don't want to impair Dixie's ligaments just to make her feet pretty!

    I think I'll try to get video of Dixie trotting out. (Or whatever gait she wants to give.) I could get a friend to video us and trot her toward the camera - maybe we'll learn something.

  7. Oh hi, Horseartist! Thanks for stopping by, and may you learn from my mistakes. ;)

    We just moved from Ohio (with limited turnout and daily grain) to Nevada (24/7 turnout on hilly rocky sand, no grain). She's been here about 2.5 months, so her hooves haven't finished growing completely out. The rings might be something left over from her Ohio environment - good call.

    I found Google Earth to be a pretty good substitute for a GPS. If you're doing just loops, and you can remember to time it, you can get your distance from Google Earth and then calculate your mph. I got my Garmin at an REI garage sale - it cost about $50 total. I definitely want a HRM next! I think they start around $125. If I actually planned it out (instead of wandering into REI and seeing a GPS on sale super cheap), I'd probably get a HRM first and just guess my distances.


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