Little things and signs of purple progress

I was only at the barn for about 90 minutes today, but a lot of little things took place then and throughout the day.

Boulder only ran from me once today in the pasture, and then allowed me to catch him without incident. And re-catch him. I think he is starting to get to the point that he is genuinely happy to see me. Hooray!

Thrush report

Purple feet galore! Gentian violet seems to be doing a bang-up job, as Boulder only had one smelly foot today. Yes, there’s still thrush in all four feet, but they all look quite a bit better. I doctored them in the pasture, and he was a perfect gentleman about it (I think he would have stood even without a halter).

Bob was Roberto today, as I medicated his feet in the pasture, too (haltered this time) while he happily grazed away. His pasture buddies, Jamocha and Beau, were nuisances at first, as they seemed to think that lucky Bob was getting treats. Bob’s feet are getting better, too, but they weren’t as badly infected to start with.

The only bad thing about gentian violet is that it stains—big time. I am getting used to having purple fingers. I just can’t see the sense in burning a pair of rubber gloves every day for a substance that is not in the least bit harmful to me (and beneficial if I happen to have any little cuts on my fingers). I just hold up my index finger and joke that I voted in the Iraqi elections….

Hoof boots

The trimmer trimmed Boulder’s feet last Saturday, and she recommends boots for him, at least on his fronts for now. I agree, as he has been very tender on hard surfaces, so I have been doing research on boots. We’ve narrowed it down to three different boots:

EasyBoot Epics

Pros: Trimmer recommends these because “they are lighter and easier to work with” than the Boas. About $90 each in a size 7. Lightweight. Proven in endurance riding. 30-day no-hassle return policy.

Cons: Require the use of a hoof pick or something similar to set the laces tight. Require the use of a screwdriver or something similar to pry the clamp loose when you want to remove them. Shape of boot doesn’t seem to match up well with tracings of Boulder’s feet. May not work well with low-heeled hooves. Boulder will barely fit in the largest size, leaving little room for error.

Boa Hoof Boots

Pros: The use of snowboard binding technology makes them very easy on and off—no tools needed. The shape of the boot is very similar to Boulder’s hoof shape. Same price each as the Epics. 30-day no-hassle return policy. Beau wears these on his fronts, so they are not an unknown quantity around the barn.

Cons: Can only be purchased in pairs. Heavier than the Epics. Rated for shorter rides of 25 miles or less. Boulder will barely fit in the largest size, leaving little room for error.


Pros: Semi-custom or custom fitted. Can be worn 24/7. Very easy on and off. Can be resoled and refurbished. Available in colors. Available with varying degrees of traction.

Cons: Double the price of Epics and Boas. May take a little longer to deliver—especially if a custom size is neede. No-return policy, except that they will resell returned boots as used and send you whatever price they fetch.

Despite the trimmer’s recommendation, I am thinking seriously about ordering the Boas. My backup plan if those don’t work out well or if it looks like it would hugely beneficial to get Boulder in boots 24/7 for a few months, would be to order Hoofwings and continue using the Boas until they arrived.

If you have experience with a draft horse and any of these boots, please leave a comment below.

Freedom Feeders

The slow-feed bags arrived today. They’re called Freedom Feeders (thanks to Jenn for the tip). These are large hay nets with a much smaller mesh than you normally see on hay nets. They are designed to hold about 35 lbs. of hay for “restricted free-choice” feeding.

The idea is that the mesh is small enough that the horse really has to work to get the hay out, but that they have (from a horse’s perspective) a seemingly endless and constant supply of hay (so long as you fill the bag every other day or so). Because they never run out of hay and because they can only get it out slowly, they have to “graze” all day on the bag. After about a month of this, the theory is that they will only eat what they need and not bolt their feed, while also staying busy all day.

This makes these ideal for the coming winter months where the number of hours per day the horses spend in stalls goes way up as the weather gets nastier. I think Boulder and Bob will make excellent guinea pigs for these things (no one else in the barn has them yet). Boulder will physically test them because he is just so darned big and has such a big mouth. Bob because he is currently food-aggressive, so it will be very interesting to see if a winter with a Freedom Feeder helps with that.  I’ll post updates.

Fly masks redux

The tack store called today and said that the fly mask I ordered came in. This will be fly mask #3. The first one was an XL “draft” size from Farnham. Too small. Then I found an XXL from Farnham. Better, but still too small. This one is an XXL from Cashel. I’ll go pick it up tomorrow. Cross your fingers….

About Mike

Michael Heggen is a horseman, maker, and thinker who lives in Salem, Oregon with his wife, Kim, and "three to eight cats". He stays quite busy riding, driving, and caring for their three horses, Boulder, Shasta, and Bob. Among other things, Mike has been a fencing coach, police chaplain, computer consultant, aspirant to the diaconate, computer salesman, box boy, carpenter, computer technician, typesetter, church youth leader, copy machine operator, and network administrator. His other interests include juggling, reading voraciously, and (pretty occasionally these days) cycling.
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2 Responses to Little things and signs of purple progress

  1. Mary says:

    Hi Mike!
    I sent you a message with a lead on boot info.
    As for the Freedom Feeder- what kind of material is the mesh? I’ve had two horses eat through the mesh on the typical hay bags (the bag we used for horse transport/Herc’s trail dinner). I’d be suspicious if the mesh material is the same type of stuff… Otherwise, its a cool idea!


  2. Mike says:

    Hi Mary,

    The mesh on the Freedom Feeder is made of some kind of sturdy braided nylon-looking material. I suspect they are made from some kind of netting that is manufactured for another purpose—perhaps hockey netting, or something like that.

    So far, so good (after two days). They are definitely working as designed. Time will tell on the durability.

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