Saturday, May 16, 2009

Extraordinary Hunter Pace

Today was perfection. The weather was great, sunny with a cool breeze. The countryside was the deepest shade of emerald, my eyes couldn't drink it fast enough. Dogwoods were in full bloom, scenting the air as we rode by. And of course, the hunter pace was the most fun I've had in months.

Brego was beyond good. He actually enjoyed the ride, getting out and stretching his muscles. We rode the 12 mile course in 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 38 seconds. Optimum time was 1 hour, 40 minutes even, so we placed first out of seven teams.

The footing was at times wet and slick and then dry and rocky. We rode the course mostly at a trot, but had long stretches of gallop. Brego jumped every fence I pointed him at, including some three foot coops, with ease, out of stride. He did not chip, hesitate, tap, or look. He was absolutely foot perfect. At one point, I was riding second on the team and the lead horse stayed on the trail and gapped a coop set just off the trail to the left. I asked Brego to leave the trail, line up, and clear a 3' coop and return to the team all in the space of four strides. He responded without hesitation, leaving the leader and never questioning the fence. Such maturity for a green horse!

We also managed to master forward. And when I say that we have mastered forward, I mean that at mile 10, I asked for a canter and he leapt forward with so much enthusiasm, I had to bridge my reins to bring him back to me and we had to complete the ride at the trot. He was just too fast at the canter.

It was a perfect ride, on a horse loving his job and finally shaking off the boredom of winter. This will be a very fun summer indeed.

As for his feet, I can say that the Super Fast "shoes" were great. They held up reasonably well, with one chip coming out of the front. That was most likely an application error where his foot was not dry enough before applying the adhesive. He felt comfortable in them, obviously unencumbered, and his stride felt normal. I am very impressed with the technology and I will certainly use them again. He did have one or two ouchy steps over very large rocks, but considering how much galloping on gravel and stones we did today, including the usual wear and tear of a fast 12 miles, I could not ask for more. They protected his feet but didn't get in the way. The mud was so deep in spots that boots would have never made it through, they would have been sucked off.

I am just very happy to have options where I can offer him relief when his feet are not up to the challenge, but allow his feet to improve when they are. It really is the best of both worlds.

As for the rest of the season, Brego is showing me that he loves to run and jump, so we're going to try to squeeze in the Groton House schooling three phase in June. Still no recognized events for me this year, but I will take him out on course every chance I get. He's coming back faster, stronger, and jumping better than we finished last year, and I consider that somewhat miraculous.



Anonymous said...

What a wonderful day - I wish I had been there (riding Brego, of course!) - it sounds like enormous fun. Glad the "shoes" held up - they seem like an interesting technology.

manymisadventures said...

Could you do another post on that foot stuff, sometime? I think it's a very interesting concept.

And congrats on a fantastic ride :) I'm so glad to hear that the two of you enjoyed yourselves.

jacksonsgrrl said...

Yay! A first place, CONGRATS, that is so wonderful!!! My AngloArab is a greenie too with a ton of get up and go...I must admit that he is just a very FAST horse. Any advice for slowing at the canter? I know the pinching of the thighs and sitting back...but any advice would be appreciated as I admit I have NEVER trained a horse. I was not told (how convenient) when I bought him that he didn't know how to canter!! So after a month of having him I was cantering with a friend on a trail and when I asked him to stop he did a swerve and we parted directions. Majorly. Broken shoulder parted.

Andrea said...

WOO HOO!! If I'm not mistaken that makes you unbeaten so far this year! Send a little of that mojo my way please?

I have to know more about these funky not-shoes! Are they flexible or stiff? How long do they stay on? How compatible are they with hoof mechanism? The website didn't answer my burning questions ;)

Daun said...

Jacksonsgrrl, A horse that goes too fast at the canter is scary! I bridge my reins, sometimes even a double bridge, and firmly plant my knuckles into the base of the neck in front of the withers. Then Brego is pulling against himself and I don't have to be as strong. I can use my lower back and my thighs to hold me back, but with the bridge, Brego is not pulling my arms out of the socket. It's a skill you MUST SCHOOL before going out, because some horses object strongly to the bridged reins and you want to be prepared. So in a safe arena setting, at a slow canter or fast trot, simulate how you would stop a fast canter and school the horse to respond. Good luck!!

Andrea and Manymisadventures, I intend to continue my adhesive experiment. I am very impressed with the stuff. I pulled off the chip form the front of his foot and it was flexible. I could bend it with my hands, not bent in two, but I could deform it. So I believe that it is flexible to his hoof movement on impacts.

The stuff is also crazy hard. You can nail into it. I am trying to think of a way to tap it for studs, because when Brego's feet are hard and dry, then I only have to worry about traction. As they are, I can rasp serrations in them to add traction, but I haven't tried it. T

They stay on by bonding to the foot, plus the cuff around the outside. You can see the cuff chipped off but the shoe on the bottom did not weaken at all. When you apply the adhesive, you dig out to clean white line and the adhesive holds in that grove.

I think they are perfect because they do not change the balance and function of the hoof in regards to hoof mechanism. It's like have an extra thick/hard sole when you need it, even in wet conditions.

I am not sure how long they will stay on. There is obvious wear from the ride, but they are not peeling off. I think they are supposed to wear down, just like hoof wall. They are not as durable as shoes, so no set for six weeks and forget it, but then six weeks in the same shoe constricts hoof growth. When rasping the finish on them, they were harder than a hoof wall, or at least Brego's wet, soft hoof wall. Amazing stuff.

And Andrea, I thought I was borrowing some of your undefeated at recognized events MOJO!!!

*Sharon* said...

Add me to the list of interested ones. How do you think a hardened layer helped your grip? Or is it more about protecting the hoof?
Tell us more.
I am also very jealous of your Hunter Pace. I was just saying yesterday that I would love to just do cross country without the rest of the eventing thing. We don't have anything like that here. : (

Daun said...

I don't think the "shoes" helped with grip at all. Brego was slipping in the mud. I wouldn't say it was worse than normal, seemed like the normal amount when he's not paying attention. I certainly did not think, wow those shoes are making him stick.

It was about protecting his white line, which is how conventional shoes work. The white line is the softest part of the hoof and when the feet are wet, it gets worn down quite a bit. Then you get separation of the hoof wall, which you can see in the before pictures and then the wall acts like a lever and exacerbates the problem. This adhesive will protect the white line while his hoof wall grows down and hopefully tightens up the line.

dp said...

Those feet are huge. And congrats to all three of you on a great day!

Jana said...

Congrats! I haven't yet commented on your blog, but I've been reading for a while... guess that makes me a lurker of sorts. :)

Anyway, out of lurkerville, I come to let you know that I am continuously inspired by you and by Brego, who is absolutely gorgeous! I'm wondering if you've heard of Hoof Armor? I ran across it while doing research on how to keep my TB gelding barefoot. It seems like a similar product to the one you're using, but maybe with some slight differences. I'd love your thoughts on it (

Best of luck to you both in future competitions! Even though you clearly don't need luck. :)


Chris said...

Does indeed sound like perfection! Tell you what, blue rather suits your boy :D