Are we on month 3 or 300 of covid life? It’s hard for me to keep track.
My life is divided into segments now. Corporate job, Plaid Horse job, the never-ending task of feeding myself (so. much. cooking.), social distancing friendship and of course—the barn. And the barn looks a lot different now.
I was put on part-time hours for my corporate job about three weeks ago now, which means that all of Poet’s training rides and lessons stopped. Ordinarily I’d probably pout a lot about this, because I love lessons and Poet was going really well before all of this started, but the part-furlough happened a few weeks after he tore his feet up to hell. And y’all, his feet have been a journey lately.
In March? (time is such a blur this year), when the pandemic first started I accidentally let the farrier go a week or two too long and Poet pulled 3 out of 4 shoes. In the process, he ripped up his “shit for feet” and was sore for about a week after he got shoes back on.
Things were fine for maybe a week, but then it rained again and he ran two more off. This time, the feet were a total mess and he was so sore it looked like he had an abscess on two different feet. He didn’t, but was just that footsore. So we put boots on the two naked shoes, kept him in the stall for several days and later in the roundpen until he grew enough front hoof to put a shoe on.
At that point, I had a discussion with my farrier because I was pretty frustrated. We’d put a shoe on, it would ran, and he’d throw it… tearing his hoof up even more in the process. We decided the best thing moving forward was to try and transition him to barefoot in the hind. So that’s what I’ve been doing that for over 30 days now.
Things have been touch and go. Sometimes the footing is soft, and we can have a good walk, trot, canter ride. Sometimes he’s stepped on a sharp rock recently, and is so sore walking around isn’t comfortable. It depends on so many factors, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating.
Still, I think this is the right path for his longterm health so I’m trying my best to be patient and stay the course. To try and help things along, he’s getting a double loading dose of Farrier’s Formula, so much Keratex, Magic Cushion, essential oils to encourage hoof growth, and even a resin barrier called Hoof Armor that coats the soles of his bare hind feet.
Farrier checked him last week and said he has grown a good bit of hoof in. If he’s still sore as we move further into June, I may break down and put shoes back on. We’ll see.
The bright side of this forced time of stillness is that I’ve had to step up and really bond with my horse. I go to the barn 4-6 times a week now, and can no longer hand him over to the trainer when he’s being difficult. At first it felt a little precarious, but I’ve grown in confidence over time. Last week when he was feeling sound, I took him out to the giant field and trotted around by ourselves. That’s something I wouldn’t have dared do three months ago.
When I think about the big showing goals I had this year, it’s hard not to feel frustrated. But the entire world is on pause somewhat right now, so I’m trying to look on the brightside of this downtime. I don’t know exactly how yet, but it’ll serve its purpose in the end.