The icy windchill around here has been very prohibitive to horseback riding. Usually I can handle the cold, but the wind? Yesterday Bill reported the windchill was minus 10. Today, minus 20. When the wind is howling in your ear and the big ole trees are creaking all around, and it feels like the metal roof on the barn is going to take flight, mustering up the courage to climb into a saddle is tough. And I have not been able to do it. My courage has gotten caught in a snow devil and blown away.
So Lilly has been getting some good grooming in the barn, and that is about it. I am still taking Getty out on walks however. I found her rolling and rolling in the woods in one spot, and this is what she was rolling on. Oooooh dear, poop with little tiny feet in it. Thank you, dear little rodent, for giving up your life so another creature may have food.
Today I was back at the barn, determined to ride, even though before I even left my bed I could hear the wind whipping around like a cyclone. Once at the barn, I brought Lilly up from the pasture and lost my nerve. It was not only that the wind was blowing, it was that the wind was so dastardly icy and piercing. Besides, whose to say a giant limb might not fall off an old sugar maple and knock my brumby out? Nope, best to give Lilly another day at the spa.
Bill brought me some hot tea and then decided Lilly was up for a little pedicure. Don't let the sunshine fool you. It was very cold.
Lilly's feet have been a true challenge for the last two years. She had that abscess (Jan 2011) that compromised the integrity of her hoof wall significantly. We have spent the last two years waiting for the bad spot to grow out, trying everything to keep the hoof wall strong and supported in the meantime. At the same time, we decided the best thing for Lilly's feet was to train them to be barefoot. So you see, she not only had the naughty and detrimental abscess (and all of its repercussions), she has naturally flat and ouchy feet. Bill and I believed that by putting horseshoes on her, we were only perpetuating the problem, not fixing it.
Getting Lilly's feet back to being sound and barefoot has required a huge commitment. And while I have lost faith a few times, Bill has been more stalwart. He has been diligently trimming Lilly's flares and trimming her in just the right way to make her soles calloused and her feet balanced. This is hoof care on a weekly, if not daily basis. It has been a long labor of love...and patience. When spring rolls around, we will need to keep her feet dry too, no easy feet in mud season.
The upside is that Lilly's feet, while still flat as pancakes, are looking better than they have in a long time. When Bill used this tool, she didn't flinch once. GOOD NEWS!
It has been a journey, to say the very least. And while I had the advantage of always having another horse to ride, Lilly has remained pretty much rideable through it all, thanks to the innovators at Renegade and Cavallo. Hoof boots may not be the answer to everything, but they have certainly been very helpful to Lilly and me.
We just love ya, Lilly. We'd do anything in the world for you.
Ahhh, that sun feels good.
If Bill were to ever write a book about Lilly and her feet (and he easily could), this would be the cover.
Stay warm, everyone!