Barefoot Bella

So I genuinely try not to go barefoot with Bella but from time to time we have to take her shoes off and just give her a break. North Carolina (and maybe everywhere, idk) has been like super wet this year. At least it seems like it’s been more wet than usual. It’s entirely possible that it’s the pasture she’s been in most of 2017 that’s causing some of the issues rather than actually having more rain, but I like where she is.

Her old pasture was a lot smaller, she had a step-up run-in area so she could get really out of anything damp at all for large amounts of time. It was a good pasture for her overall, my issue with that pasture was that she was by herself. She could see other horses, they shared one fence line, but the other mares could go up front out of sight and then she really was all alone. Bella is definitely a herd animal. When I began going to school more and had to cut down on my riding time I asked that she be moved into a pasture with other horses. Now she lives in one of the back pastures with some of the geldings, this is where she met Skipper, and things are mostly great.

The back has a few downsides but overall it’s been awesome. She has like four times the space back there, tons of grass, a large run-in, and most importantly she has friends. There are three pastures in the back, two with ponds, and she spent this spring in one of the ones with a pond. This is where the issues began. With all the rain the water level rose and her feet were staying pretty wet all the time. We finally faced the facts that it wasn’t going to get better anytime soon so we moved her. Bella went up front on her own where it was drier and she was able to sit out being in heat for a few weeks (the boys were going a little crazy).

When we moved her back she went into the pasture on the higher ground and without a pond. So far she’s been doing well out there, the biggest complaint I have is that the grass keeps getting dew or sap or whatever it is all over her legs and face and I keep having to wash her (you try washing that punks face and tell me it’s not the most annoying chore ever). Hopefully this pasture will allow her to be barefoot (thanks grass) and grow her feet back out because for the past year or so she’s been throwing shoes one to two weeks before she’s actually due. With bell boots (mare has thumbs, it’s the only explanation) and her feet look like shit. My farrier has been a damn saint (shout out to Mike) and kept her shod and done everything he can think of to keep her shoes on, but at this point they’re just so soft from all of the water that I’ve made the decision to let her be barefoot.

No more jumping for a few months (thinking probably 12 to 16 weeks with her being barefoot, close to 2 rotations), very selective conditioning rides (can’t take her over gravel like this), and probably nothing but Dressage work (which will still be a chore). I am about to have the most cranky Paint ever. Bella is about to be regulated to the trot and canter and I’m going to be trying to get pretty hardcore about asking her to focus on certain aspects to build up her muscles. Hoping to at least bring the poles to the back (so she doesn’t have to go over gravel) for a couple of days to do a few exercises with those but I’m not sure if the farm owner is going to be overjoyed about that request (he’s so cool I can’t really imagine where he’ll tell me no as long as I move them back when I’m done with them).

Going barefoot isn’t fun with any horse but I’m lucky that we primarily ride on grass to begin with. Not much has changed, although I’m not likely to take her up front to our usual riding field very often. If I can remember, I’ll definitely take pictures of her feet on Monday to compare to when she gets shod again in a couple of months.

As soon as I get paid I’m looking into a biotin supplement for her. I don’t like feed through supplements, but I’m definitely willing to try anything at this point. Our winters are usually fairly wet and I’m just ready to stop worrying about if I’ll have a horse to ride or if she’ll be missing a shoe every time I go out.

26 year old equestrian keeping busy and moving forwards.

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