These boots are made for walkin’….

Today was an Experiment Day with Boulder. I wanted to see what effect his boots had on his pasture behavior, but I only got to the barn about 20 minutes before the herd was brought in for the day, so I didn’t really get a good test.

I was able to test out putting boots on Boulder out on the pasture (after I caught him—three short runs today) by tying him to a post. It went well, although the I couldn’t quite get the front right on straight for some reason. Every day the boots are a little easier to put on. It also helped that Boulder was better with his feet today. Imagine that: his feet hurt less and he is more willing to give them to me.

I let Frankie (the barn manager) herd/call everyone in and watched Boulder move. He was somewhat friskier with his boots on, even doing a bit of boxing with Joey (the new guy in the herd). He made a bit of nuisance of himself at the barn gate, as he get poking his head in and getting in the way of the staff trying to get the other horses in. This is not typical behavior for Boulder.

I took Boulder on over to his stall and let him eat for awhile while I doctored Bob’s feet with gentian violet—continued progress there. Bob, for all of his other quirks, is a dream with his feet. I think he actually likes having his feet worked on!

That task finished, I went back over to the other barn and doctored Boulder’s hind feet. After that, I spent some time just watching Boulder in his stall (still with his boots on). It seemed like he was moving his front feet around more while he was eating, with movements similar to what he would use if he were grazing in the pasture. So, I took his boots off and observed that.

He was a very different horse with his boots off. The animation was gone, and he simply stood as still as he could and didn’t move his front feet at all, although he did move his hinds a little bit. Clearly, the boots make him more comfortable even in the stall

I talked with Frankie a bit about this, so we’re going to do some experimenting in the next couple of weeks. Frankie is going to add a lot of extra shavings to see if that makes him more comfortable. And tomorrow I am going to get out there before the herd is turned out and put his boots on—and leave them on for the rest of the day until after he comes back in. I expect to see a fairly different horse in the pasture tomorrow. The Boa boots are not designed to be left on 24/7, unfortunately, or I would just do that. I think we can figure out something that makes him more comfortable and doesn’t overly burden the barn staff.

In related news, I heard from the trimmer about the photos of Boulder’s feet that I posted yesterday. She says to keep on doing exactly what I have been doing: treat the thrush and keep the rocks out of those toe cavities—and be patient. So, that’s what I’ll do.

I also discovered that a great way to treat that touchy right front foot is to have the Blue-Kote at hand when I take the boot off. He will willingly pick up that foot if he doesn’t think it’s going to hurt. I pick his feet before I put the boots on, so they are ready to medicate when I take the boots off. It worked great!

Finally, I ordered a HoofJack today. Bob did fine with Jenn’s today while I was picking his feet, so I think it will make Kim’s life easier when she is working on his feet—she’s just not quite strong enough to hold his feet up while picking the. I also ordered three pairs of Comfort Pads that go with the Boa boots—12 mm thick in three different densities.

And I went out on a limb a bit and ordered a Cashel Soft Saddle, which is basically a glorified bareback bad with stirrups, but it has more shape than a bareback pad. I think it will make a good fill-in saddle until my Specialized Saddle gets here in late November. It should be good for my balance and comfortable for Boulder—and it will reduce the wear and tear on Mary’s Circle Y show saddle.

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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