Hudson’s rubber-covered hooves make the best clomp on the hard-packed surface of the road near our house. This dirt and gravel road is just a couple miles long and there are only two houses on it. One of them is my neighbor’s with the cows, and the other house sits about a third of the way up. The rest is farm fields, hay and corn, and one gas well that sits quietly in a field, pumping out natural gas while the farmer plants his corn up to the edge of the well pad.
|Huds and me after our ride. Her head doesn't fit in portraits too well!|
Hudson’s hooves were covered with Cavallo Simple boots on our ride tonight, and the clomp was muted, yet louder than when her feet are bare. She was diagnosed with soft soles last year after she came up ouchy after a hunter pace, and I bought the boots because I don’t want to put shoes on her. She wears them happily. She can go right over rocks and road gravel, even at speed (well, relatively speaking, considering she’s half draft) without a paintful step. As we go, I listen to her rubbery clomps and subconsciously note that the boots are still on. They have never fallen off, but I still listen for them.
This was the first time she wore them this year. I noticed her being a little sensitive on rocky trails and the road on previous rides and decided it was time to pull them out. After all, we had to put in a long ride on the road tonight. My Hudson is so fat that she needs regular, long walk-trot rides on the road and hills to start working that fat off.
I’m afraid I may also have to pick up a grazing muzzle for her. But as an alternative plan, I put them all out in a smaller pasture near their sacrifice area, so they can munch it down low. Then I will make that Hudson’s pasture so she doesn’t have the long, lush grass she has been enjoying the past couple of weeks that have bloated her to the proportions of the Staypuft marshmallow man.
On tonight’s ride, she walked slowly, but trotted out willingly and quickly whenever I asked. She can trot for quite a while without getting winded, which really surprises me. She is happy on these rides, alert and calm, looking around and sometimes sniffing the road as she walks, nose all the way down like a blood hound. I read somewhere that letting a horse sniff like that can help it become a good search-and-rescue mount, so I let her sniff away, just in case we become search-and-rescuers. You never know. It could happen.
On quiet, pleasant rides like this, I work on things like my seat, her straightness, my leg position, on gaining a consistent rhythm in her gaits. Or I practice feeling each of her legs moving in turn, noting which one is hitting the ground, and just enjoying the clomp, clomp, clomp of her booted hooves on the hard, dirt road.