Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What to Do In the Dark

Happy Feet

I hate this time of year. As a teacher, I do get home a little earlier than than average 9-5 worker, but once December starts to loom, darkness creeps in too fast even for me.

Last night, I had just about enough time to ride Tucker before needing lights. I do have lights for my arena, though they are a bit unreliable. I made the mistake of listening to the installing electrician's advice as to what kind of lights to put up and, as usual, he was wrong. I intend to replace them someday, but for now, they'll do.

I am working on getting Tucker to balance up for second level. He can do it, but is pretty much confused since I've concentrated on a longer and lower frame for so long to encourage him to stride forward and use his back. Still, he is trying and his little tantrums when he gets frustrated are minor. I think he's finally growing up.

I put Chance on the crossties thinking I was going to either lunge or ride him for a short bit in the gathering gloom. Instead, I decided on a pick up your feet and hold them for the farrier session instead. Well, I soon discovered that a harsh word or correction is not the best way to handle this kid. He is very sensitive. I guess I have another horse who needs soothing explanation and complete patience. He sort of picks up his feet, but not as obediently and responsively as I expect from my horses. So, we worked on that a bit and I held his hoofies for a span, tapping on them with the hoofpick. I do hope to keep him barefoot for as long as possible, but my farrier does need to use tools on him and I don't want him startled by any of them.

All the horses I have had have been expected to stand well for the farrier. I do not believe the owner or anyone needs to be there to hold a horse having its feet tended. So far, aside from some of Tucker's impatience, it's been generally a non-issue. Russell, my first boy, could have been tied with sewing thread and would never have moved. PJ was the same, and my veterinarian's nickname of "The Prince" for Toby holds true whenever he's handled. Tucker is high energy and has been a little more difficult, but lately there's improvement. My shoer is a meticulous craftsman and an expert horse handler, so he's worked with Tucker too. He's not a bad horse, he's just impatient--but time and age is taking care of that. I certainly don't want Chance to misbehave. Good farriers are a treasure and we horsemen need to do everything we can to make sure each visit they make to our barns is safe and productive.

Tomorrow there's supposed to be a Nor'easter blowing through. It's Thanksgiving, so bad weather is a sad turn of events. Still being with family for the holiday can make up for even the cloudiest skies.

May you and yours share the love of the season, and don't forget to put an extra carrot or apple in your horse's feed bucket.


  1. can but sympathise re dark nights - we've been riding in the dark after work for weeks now,

    and i entirely agree about having a good farrier! mine was army trained, and now assesses other farriers, and is a good remedial farrier and so on (and quite happy to trim barefoot!)

  2. not the dark dark, we do have arena lights!!!!!! LOL

    although i have ridden without lights in a full moon, that was amazing, you could see clearly enough to jump if you wanted to