I taught a clinic on Thursday, and Friday was just too much of a weather shock to ride. If it had been a winter day, it would have been fine, but it was just so much colder than it had been that I decided to make it an office day, for the most part, while the wind howled and the horses munched extra hay. The wind died down nicely overnight, and after a cool morning, today was a great day to ride.
I started out with Nellie, who was happy to be caught as usual. He really is a sweet horse and I think he has the cutest foxy ears I have ever seen. He was admiring them in the arena mirrors too.
In the cross ties, he is fidgeting around a great deal and I am spending a good amount of time discussing that with him. When the other horses leave the run in, he is very concerned. He very much relies on other horses for his confidence. When I was riding in the arena with him today, though, he whinnied to the other horses only once. The first times I rode him, there was a lot of whinnying and silliness. I am pleased with the improvement.
He is getting better at coming over his back into contact and we had a good physical workout today as well. In canter, we worked on getting him to stretch over his back, which he started to get the hang of and seemed to enjoy. We also did more lateral work. It is much easier for him to move to the right. Left is coming along.
Then it was on to a solo hack with JJ. He was a little hesitant to leave the others, but didn’t whinny and did go where directed and settled in with a little praise. He was slightly lame on his left front when we trotted on the gravel shoulder, which was still relatively soft from the recent rain. A shod horse wouldn’t usually be expected to be lame on those conditions. So we went back down to walk until we got to the fields. His trot was sound on the soft ground.
I got to thinking about why he was lame on the gravel in spite of the fact that he had shoes on. When I got home I examined his feet more carefully, and it became clear that his left frog is non-existent. This didn’t really alarm me because sometimes a frog will slough off a bit, but then when I really examined his right as well, it became clear that they were both gone. This is not good, because the frog is a major component of the hoof that is required for cushioning, and also as it touches the ground with each step, it actually helps circulate blood in the horse’s legs. It does more than that, but those are the biggies.
So, here is how JJ’s left front hoof looks. The area between the ends of the shoe is where his frog should be:
For comparison, this is Elliot’s left front hoof. Notice the healthy frog in the center of the ends of the shoe:It is possible that JJ simply has a very bad case of thrush, an infection of the frog. If that is the case, It can be treated with Today, that can be bought at any good farm store. It needs to be put on at least daily for a week and results will take several weeks to show up, as the frog begins to grow back. I can start that tomorrow or Monday. We had thrush in a few of our horses about a year ago. It happens. But gotta get after it.
Then we went on a hack with Megan riding Dallas, and Jay on Elliot and me on Luke. Dallas didn’t want to let Megan catch him, so I went out and helped and it took us all of 20 seconds. We tacked up and had a great 3 mile hack of walk, trot and canter. He had a good time and was very well-behaved.