The problem with a lot of people is that they lack the imagination, empathy and thoughtfulness to put themselves in the position of the horse, to see what their main challenges are, what it's like from the horse's point of view. They'll be full of "shoulds" and "musts" and really have no idea, because they're not understanding the horse's side of it, they're just always wanting the horse to understand their side... sort of like the kind of spouse you're not going to have a happy marriage with, because they're thinking about themselves and what they want from you, instead of putting themselves in your shoes, and trying to understand your own lived experience as a human being, which is different from their own. You can't have partnership without empathy and understanding and fairness and really caring, not with humans and not with horses.
I can't believe how many people treat their horses like a machine, and take the horse that has had a month off any work for a hard ride. I think athletes can understand better how gradual and time consuming the process of getting and staying fit is, and think about how the horse might feel the day after a workout too.
Speaking of empathy, I've been putting Renegade boots on Hero for most workouts now and have been seeing a difference. I'll call it a learning curve with my first TB. His hooves look pretty good for a TB, he does have some concavity and the hooves are hard and fairly sturdy. But they are certainly not like my Arabs' hooves were.
I've thought that most of our rides are on grass and sand, the fields are mostly soft, etc. Why wouldn't I ride barefoot?
However, there are pitfalls with stretches of hard, knobby plant roots that hide in the grass, fifty feet of gravel road here and there. I think it's similar to when I would ride my Arabs on the logging roads. They weren't visibly ouchy going on gravel, but when I put boots on I could tell they were less reluctant to move and also more willing. So the varied terrain we've been going over is the equivalent with these hooves to going over the gravel roads with Arab hooves. Probably the rocks and things Hero would step on now and again would cause little tender spots and all those add up.
I was hesitant to put boots on since most of our rides are on the sand. But the Renegades have been functioning perfectly well in the sand, and Hero is going much better over all terrain.
I believe taking away whatever level of discomfort there was with his hooves has added to his other feelings of well being. I took him around the barrels in the outdoor arena that made him rear a while back, and he just walked around them very calmly with his head down.
Going down the beach yesterday on a 7 mile ride with Nala, he was so calm all the way down the beach I thought a beginner could have ridden him. When we turned around, he was more of an intermediate ride, but I am learning so much about helping him.
If I want him to do cantering stretches, I do them on the way out. Then he can pick them up over and over and go very balanced. On the way home, feeling more tired, he does better if I don't ask for the canter more than once or twice, and instead have him do his big power trot. This works better with his mind since he has more difficulty cantering if he gets excited. That too is getting better, but still is not 100%.
Poor Nala is getting more manageable for her rider, but does not do much speed work anymore. With Halla as a strong leader, she was confident and would gallop off, knowing Halla was coming behind and wanting to reach her. Hero does not want to go fast, and really has no drive to race at all. I did not realize his hooves were at all uncomfortable, but now with boots and his stifles feeling good, he has long periods of being very calm and slow. Yet when he goes he is smoother and more powerful.
Now Nala has to lead, and she doesn't like to. She gets more nervous in front and stares around at everything. She does not want to canter off, because Hero won't follow. So she is doing a lot of slow cantering now while Hero either canters or power trots.
Next week Nala and Nickel are moving to a new barn, which is a bit sad. Hero will be doing a lot of alone work this winter. However, I am planning to meet up for some rides too.
Yes, I am sympathetic to hard working horses though. I am training for a 6 mile run next month, and after that workout, did our 7 mile ride, and then met up with family for kayaking, which made my upper body sore too.
My dad is 84 and has always had so many hobbies. He paints, plays piano, reads, learns languages, rides his bike, has an extensive garden, goes mushroom hunting, cooks, you name it. For a few months he has been working on an old duck boat that was sitting in his basement for 35 years. My mom was worried it wouldn't float, but we put it in our truck along with our kayaks and took turns trying out the duck boat too.
Then we got him both into and out of a kayak to try, which he'd never done. My mom is less adventurous and watched from the shore. Some 5 year old kid was having a lucky fishing day and pulling up all kinds of nice bass from the lake. His mom wasn't catching anything. It was pretty fun for all of us.