Out for a hand walk

Hand walking the horses

You thought horses were for riding? Welcome to keeping thoroughbreds!

We have been dealing with puffed up legs here for a few weeks now. A bad trim by the spelling property’s farrier resulted in footsoreness and stone bruising when the boys came home to our unyielding gravel-and-sand paddocks. The first week, they were hobbling around like little old women. So naturally the legs puffed up, and I’ve been cold hosing and bandaging and hand walking since. There’s been a delightful assortment of other ailments – thrush, greasy heel, rain scald. Johnny also gave us the gift of a blown abscess and reopened an old scar on his fetlock. Hand walking is definitely the fun part.

head in the hay roll

He has his hay roll,
he need not move for eight hours

These soundness issues are nothing out of the ordinary for our two. Its part of the reason we’ve decided to try keeping them barefoot. When we moved here to find that beneath the weeds, our paddocks were comprised of rock, pea gravel and a little sand, and the trails worse, of course I did the sensible thing and got both horses shod on the fronts. Our boy Calais has terrible leg conformation, including a lovely club foot, and coming straight to us off the racetrack two years ago, has been shod all his life. These days he’s got hardly any hoof wall left to actually nail a shoe onto, and his heels are so underrun he’s basically standing on soft tissue. So what have we got to lose?

We had the barefoot trimmer come out last week and she was great, she spent over two hours out here, and was happy to explain everything she was doing – something I value highly in the horse world.

The boys' new hoof boots

They’re not too bad walking around barefoot in the paddock, now that their soles and frogs have toughened up a bit. Its exciting to think that Calais is feeling the ground properly for the first time since he was a two-year-old, when the shoes would have first gone on. But I don’t think there’s much chance of these TBs ever trail riding out here in the hills without some kind of hoof protection. So that explains the hoof boots. We want to give them a chance at improved circulation, healthy hoof growth and hopefully overall soundness by allowing the hooves to function naturally, but we still want to be able to ride.

I think the boys look quite sporty with their little boots on. I’ve never seen them happier to stride out on the trail, rocks and all. The hand walking helps with the puffy legs, even a ten minute walk is enough now to kick the fluid out. The real test of the boots will be once we start riding again.