Thursday, January 22, 2015

"A Few Tips To Trim Your Barefoot Horse"

Howdy Friends,

Trimming your own barefoot horse is easy to do, and I encourage folks to learn how. One key piece of advice I like to give is, keep it simple. There seems to be a lot of conversation out there making a simple thing complicated. Pete Ramey says it all, “Take care of the toes and the heels take care of themselves.”

You can see here Kessy's foot is 4 1/2 inches front to back. The apex of her beautiful frog is at 1 1/2 inches, exactly 1/3 of her hoof is forward of the apex. You can also see her lovely sole and no black lines. The sole merges with the wall.
How do we know how long the toe should be? A horse should be standing up on her foot, not angled back off it, no matter how slight. Sighting down from the hairline will point out any dish forming in the wall, no matter how slight. We want a straight line down to the bottom of the foot. And your horse will most often give you a “wear” spot on the tip of her toe, even on a 3 week schedule, which is what I recommend for a trimming schedule. No more than 1/3 of the foot should be ahead of the apex of the frog.

Rasp from the top down. Simple and easy. I never need or use a nippers. You can see here the angle I like to hold the rasp. Often you will see a flat wear place on the toe. I will begin at the heel, holding the rasp on this angle and rasp to the end of the toe flat spot . Then I'll go to the other side of the hoof, rasp from the heel to the flat spot on the toe. When all things align, I'll blend in the hoof into the perfect shape, and end with the bevel at the edge, which should be there if I've held the rasp on the proper angle. I do not believe the hoof wall from the bevel up to the hairline should ever be rasped, the blending I reference is around the hoof where the bevel is. If the horse is maintained on about a 3 week schedule there should almost never be a flare. It takes me about 2 minutes a hoof. That's it, easy simple. Now this is a maintenance trim, not corrective, that friends could be a whole other story.
Do all your work with a rasp, from the top down. Do not rasp the outer hoof more than the bottom edge you are working on for the trim and bevel, it removes live tissue on the wall needed for hoof health. Do not trim the frog or pare the sole (my gosh why do people do that?!) That also removes live tissue needed for hoof health. Simply rasp around the outer edge from the top down (the only way you can preserve the natural arch in the hoof). If done correctly you will never again see anything but a beautiful sole extending all the way to the hoof wall with no black line of separation, ever. Like Kessy’s here. If you see a black line, your toes are too long causing unhealthy flexing and stretching of the lamina.

Kessy's perfect feet
And that’s it. Simple, fun and healthy.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Horses Taught Me Emotional Writing, and Seeing"

Howdy Friends!

An editor once told me I am an emotional writer. She explained it was easy to "feel" the emotions of my characters, and indeed my story. Many of the reviews on Amazon about my novel We'll Have The Summer, have commented on being able to feel the emotions of Mary and Sam, and all the characters.
Kessy's emotions run deep.
One negative I do get is that I don't describe my characters physically often, or deeply enough. And that is true. I don't invest a lot of words on that. I don't really see my characters as what they are as much as who they are. I drop hints as I feel and see them, enough so that the reader can see and understand them, but their aura that is them is what I really see and guides me in my description.

It's the same way, and always has been, for horses with me. I never really notice conformation; I would make a lousy judge! I see them, and their aura as who they are, their emotions, attitudes and personalities. I may not even notice if they have one white sock or three, or none. Physical characteristics are so much less important to me than the spirit. And that's how I write.

Horses taught me to see their spirit and who they are, not what they are. That's how they talk to me. That's what they taught me, and that's how I write. And of course that's how I see people, too. Who they are, not what they are. I see their spirit, aura, personalities, emotions, and that's how I remember—and write.

Here is one of my all time favorite character descriptions I ever wrote for Anaba in my novel We'll Have The Summer.  "First, Sam removed Bullet’s saddle and bridle then turned him free to pick at the wiry grass. Then he simply folded his legs and squatted next to the fire, facing the old Navajo. He sucked a deep breath from the pipe handed him, held the rank smoke long enough to burn his mouth, puckered his lips, and allowed it to drift out. Sam looked across the fire at his dear friend and studied the faded shirt covering shoulders made uneven by the many years, and the deeply furrowed skin sagging around Anaba’s still keen eyes. Such a man was Anaba, that it was necessary to study his worn-out body closely to notice the wear of it. The spirit living in those rich black eyes created a cloaking aura which prevented all but the most determined examiner from seeing the toll the years had taken on the mortal Navajo. But even in the quickest glance, that vibrant spirit was abundantly obvious."

I thank my teachers, horses I've met, for showing me how to be an emotional writer.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry