Sunday, August 8, 2010


When we last saw Our Heroine and her horse... Hahah, I can't do this. I can't write in third person. Too pretentious! Anyway, I'd ordered some bell boots because Dixie was clipping herself, I was waiting to take a lesson, and I was thinking about touching up her hooves.

I had my lesson Tuesday, and it was very helpful. To start with, M asked me to trot in a circle around her. We hurtled along and managed a couple strides of trot, a couple strides of canter, and then a very braced pace for 3/4 of a wiggly egg-shape. I pulled Dixie up and said "That is our relationship in a nutshell, and that's all of our problems." We talked for a while about what my goals are and what I'm willing to do for them. I said that I'm willing to do arena-type work a day a week, and I want to get her soft and supple on both sides and able to collect up and stretch out. I don't want to show, certainly not at dressage shows, but I'd like to work on dressagey stuff because it's good for both of us. I want to get my horse broke - or closer to broke, at any rate.

She showed me a couple of exercises to work on. It's all stuff that I've read about but never could figure out on my own. How to tell when she's crossing her rear legs when I ask for that one-rein stop. A different cue for backing up from the ground. Some stuff that I'm pretty sure is just to get me aware of my seat - get her to walk more and more slowly without touching the reins, for instance.

When I could get Dixie's attention, she was smart as a whip. The problem, as always, is getting her to focus on me and my weird demands when she wants to stare off into space and call for other horses. I stuck with it and the longer I worked her the better she got - even when all the other horses at the arena packed up and went home, she started calling for them but was still really on the aids. I told M about The House and that I'll take lessons as I can afford it, probably every two weeks, and she was fine with that.

Then we cantered wildly home, as if to underscore the importance of following through on this. :) It was a lot of fun but it was the same old fight about how fast she gets to go - she wanted to gallop, I wanted to rack or even trot, we ended up with a canter.

Friday my Pro Choice Ballistic Overreach No Turn Bell Boots came in, so I picked them up, then I stopped at the other feed store and got a really good brand new rasp. I laboriously shaved off a fraction of the flare on her back right hoof - the flared quarter is just out of ground contact now. I think I will try to keep it off the ground for a trim cycle and see how it starts to grow in. Holy crap dude, her hooves are SO FREAKIN HARD.

Then I tried on her spiffy new bell boots. I'd asked them to order M and L for me, because I wasn't sure what size she needed but I thought I'd know when I saw them. M looked too small for her dainty (snicker!) legs, so I went with L. Here's the test fit:


They seemed to fit, she didn't care that they were on, and they didn't turn. Good enough.

Then we did some ground work with the clicker. She's almost given up bullying me for treats, and now she's turning all her attention to figuring out what I want her to do. (And doing it over and over to make the Treat Dispenser hand out more mini-wheats.) I got some lovely light straight backing up and some head down, so I moved on to getting her to move her hindquarters / turn on the forehand, whatever you call it, from the ground.

I held her head still and started twirling the rope at her hindquarters, which really pissed her off. Lots of tail swishing and backing and sidepassing and then the inside leg crossed the other and by god, I clicked at that instant! I am very much a novice clicker trainer, and my timing still sucks, so that was huuuuge for both of us. Lots of praise and treats, a couple more repetitions, and then the off side was relatively easy. And bending to the right is definitely harder for her - she clearly remembered what I wanted on the near side and was trying to repeat it for more delicious treats on the off side. I love that horse so much when she tries for me :D

Yesterday a big storm front moved in about 4 and cooled things off considerably, so I took the (incredibly hyper and bored) dog with us. I put on the full kit - breastcollar, crupper, and bell boots - and we headed up in the hills for a short ride. Well, short for us, long for Cersei in the middle of summer. Guess what! Bell boots are going to be expensive disposable items for us! How exciting!

Most of our fast work was downhill, so it was mostly pace. She doesn't clip at the pace - it's physically impossible, unless your horse travels really weird in the back and somehow clips a front leg with the other side rear leg. But we did get a bit of extended trot on the last straight stretch coming home, and she did clip herself, and the boot did protect her, and it's already ripped. So much for bulletproof-vest ballistic nylon. Argh.

Does anyone make Kevlar bell boots? I'll keep using these til they quit protecting her, but they're not going to last til fall at this rate. Better yet, someone should send me free boots to review. I'll take pictures and write words and my huge audience of loyal fans will rush out and buy the ones that work the best. It'll be like a cage match, Dixie's Adamantine Hooves vs. Man's Strongest Materials.


  1. Better to have a ripped bell boot than a ripped heel bulb I always say! Well, not really, but it's true!

    Is it just the canvas on the outside of the boot that ripped, or did the boot itself rip?

    I have a pair of Ballistics too and they look like hell, but I still use them all the time. They're great.

  2. So far it's just the canvas at the bottom seam. It ripped a bit further when I rode Sunday, rrrrgh! I might write Pro Choice and complain - I don't see how they can last even 100 miles at this rate.

    Still, I am SO glad that the boots are getting ripped and her heels aren't. You're totally right about that!

  3. Hey Funder - I switched to these when it became clear that bell boots are disposable:

    They're cheap, quite durable, and when they do clip, the worst that happens is you lose a petal or two (you can buy replacement petals rather than a whole new boot). Plus, if you buy more than one color you can alternate the petals for super fancy footwear (I'm a nerd like that).

    Downsides - they do turn, and they're not as protective against bruises as the padded ProChoice boots.

    Advantages - cheap, attractive, super easy to clean, and though they turn I have never ever had them rub.

  4. Oooooh, those are totally clever! I think I'll try those after these quit working. Glad to hear I"m not the only one with a bell boot destroying horse. ;)


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