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Moonshine forged, and we had her in bell boots for a while. Eventually it stopped. It may be because we changed trimmers. I have read that you can control forging to a certain extent by changing the breakover point in the hoof, which IS possible with a barefoot horse. I don't remember which hooves it was, although I think you wanted to move the point back, to make it faster.

But I don't know if her being a gaited horse makes things different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
You left out number four: perseverance. I was so impressed when reading your journal because you never ever gave up. When one thing didn't work, you tried something else. And when that didn't work, you tried something else. Good on you!
Thank you.

I think that such perseverance is a double-edged sword, though. I think that there is a line between not giving up just because things are getting a little hard and being honest in realizing when you are over-horsed. The clarity and thickness of that line are very circumstantial.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
But I don't know if her being a gaited horse makes things different.
All horses need a well-balanced trim, but what is the ideal for one horse may not be the ideal for another. I think that because she has a naturally large overstride, there is less room for leniency in the balance of the trim, especially when concerning the breakover.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
14 January 2022

I offered her the option to wander around the dry lot while I cleaned, but she decided that she would rather stay in her stall.

It is usually cloudy here during the winter, but it was sunny while I was grooming her; she seemed to like being warmed by the sun's rays.
There is a crack on her left hind that I have spent the past nine years trying to grow out; it was one stubborn crack. I asked several farriers and veterinarians about it, and they all said that it was probably permanent due to an old coronary band injury; she sure showed them. (This picture is not at the appropriate angle for critique.)


It was warmer today than yesterday, but it was so windy that it did not feel like it.

I took her on the wooded trails. She was nervous, but she was responsive. I asked her to cross a knee-high creek; she marched through. The trail was not as muddy as I thought it would be, but it was still slippery; she slipped frequently, especially on the hills. She kept her head down most of the ride, presumably to watch her footing. Since riding a slipping horse is unpleasant, I dismounted to do some groundwork. I sent her up and down the creek's banks; she went with no hesitation. When I first started asking her to go down, she would refuse; eventually, she would jump down. Now, she just steps down. When I first started asking her to come up, she would literally jump on top of me; now, she just steps up. I have been working on backing her off short drop-offs in preparation for trailers without a ramp; she has been doing really well, although she understandably has some hesitation. I will try to use trailers with a ramp or that have the space for her to turn around, but she has that skill should she need it. I remounted and had her backtrack home. She tried to rush up the hills but would slow with a voice command.


On our way home, I let her have a quick snack with the neighbor's llama. That little thing is mean; it kept pinning its ears and trying to bite and spit at her when she said, "Hi." We also passed the neighbor's horses. When the wind gusted, the horses took off bolting and bucking, but my best girl ignored them and the wind.


Once we were back home, I did her belly lift, butt-tuck, and tail pull exercises. I rinsed off her hooves and packed them with maximum strength (forty percent zinc oxide) diaper rash cream. I washed my hands, fed her her supplements, then put her back out.
 

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Great journal! So nice you are getting into a real partnership, and your horse is young so you have many more years to develop it. I say young because I've started with horses around that age and ended up learning and growing with the horses throughout the following years.

I would suggest the breakover of the front hooves is not back far enough. If the toes are too forward, the hooves do not break over fast enough to get the front hooves out of the way.

I had a mare with scars behind her pasterns and she pulled her shoes off with the over reaching hinds. When we got her breakover back, she was able to get her fronts out of the way before the hinds clipped them. After that we had no issues, and I rode her barefoot or with boots. Horses will pull some types of boots off (she did) if that forward breakover is not corrected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
Great journal! So nice you are getting into a real partnership, and your horse is young so you have many more years to develop it. I say young because I've started with horses around that age and ended up learning and growing with the horses throughout the following years.
Thank you.

We are not the same as we were nine years ago. She has given me nine years of experience, not one year of experience done nine times. I know that I still have a lot more to learn, but I am glad that I have such a great teacher.

I would suggest the breakover of the front hooves is not back far enough. If the toes are too forward, the hooves do not break over fast enough to get the front hooves out of the way.
I think that this farrier does not fully appreciate the breakover. He said that her toes were as short as he could make them, but a horse can have the breakover at the front of its toes.

I know that a good farrier is a good farrier, but I have used some of the "greats" (in my area) of the American Farrier Association, and they were not able to keep my horse as sound. I have been looking into ones that specialize in barefoot horses; I have found some that have apprenticed under Pete Ramey and some that have ELPO certifications.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 · (Edited)
15 January 2022

I tied her using cross-ties while I groomed her. I do not normally use cross-ties, but I would like for her to have that skill should she need it. It was twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit (negative four degrees Celcius), so her grooming was brief; I mainly just fluffed up her coat.

Since it was so cold, I planned on taking her on a quick, bareback maintenance ride down the hill to some grassy patches so that she could graze.

I rode her through a choke-point; the choke-point is a narrow road that has a fence and bushes on the left and trailers on the right. She is often hesitant to ride through, even if I ride her through multiple times every day. She was nervous but went forward with some encouragement.

I do not like managing a lead for long periods while she grazes, so I dismounted and took off her halter. I got back on.
As we headed down the hill, the neighbor warned us that there were some kids mudding their ATVs at the bottom. I was hesitant to continue riding her, especially since I was bareback and she was headstall-less, but I thought that it would be a good training opportunity; she can never learn if she never does. It probably would have been best if she had a headstall on, though.
We were almost to the grassy patches when I noticed that some of the kids on their ATVs were about to come up the hill. I asked her to stop on the left side of the hill. As they were coming up into view, she stood facing them; she had her head high, back tense, and ears pricked. As the ATVs were passing by, she turned slightly right to continue facing them. She wanted to continue facing them as they climbed the hill, but I did not want her to turn around, so I asked her to face away and walk on; she complied.
There were some more kids mudding their ATVs at the bottom of the hill, so I took her to the right side of the hill to where the first grassy patch was. I asked her to stop and told her that it was okay to eat; she dropped her head to eat. She would raise her head when they revved the engines, but she would quickly drop her head to eat again.
When she was comfortable, I asked her to walk closer to the ATVs. I took her to left side of the hill to where the second grassy patch was. I asked her to stop and told her that it was okay to eat; she dropped her head to eat. The group of kids that had passed us on the hill came back. They were hesitant to pass her, but I waved them on. Although she did not raise her head, she slowly made a left half-turn so that the only time she could not see them was when they were directly behind her.
When she was comfortable, I asked her to walk even closer to the ATVs. We got as close as we could without interfering. I asked her to stop and told her that it was okay to eat; she dropped her head to eat. We stayed by the kids and their ATVs until they were ready to go home; she did not move or raise her head once. She was facing them.
As they were passing us, she got nervous because she was no longer facing them. She turned around and started jigging alongside them in the direction of the barn. I asked her to turn around and walk back to where she had been grazing; she complied. I had her face away from the ATVs and asked her to stop; she complied. I was going to tell her that it was okay to eat, but she asked first; I said no. Once she stopped asking and dropped her head, I told her that it was okay; she dropped her head to eat.
I asked her to turn around to face the kids on their ATVs since they were still deciding which way to go home. Again, I was going to tell her that it was okay to eat, but she asked first; I said no. Once she stopped asking and dropped her head, I told her that it was okay; she dropped her head to eat.
It was dark and late, so it was time to head home, and she knew it; I rarely ride in the dark. She was a little nervous and anticipated going home. I asked her to stop a few times on the way home, but each time required a second ask before she complied. I told her that it was okay to eat, but she walked off instead. I told her to stop, back up to where I had originally asked her to stop, and stand. She tried to eat; I told her no. She tried to walk off; I told her no. She started throwing her head and pawing a couple of times, but she stood. As soon as she stopped complaining, I told her that it was okay to walk on.
I took her to a grassy patch on the left side of the hill. I asked her to stop and told her that it was okay to eat; she walked off. I told her to stop and back up to where I had originally asked her to stop. We did that twice. On the third time, she dropped her head to eat and relaxed. I let her eat a few more mouthfuls before telling her that it was okay to walk on.
As she peaked the hill, she started getting excited. I took her to the right side of the path, asked her to stop, the told her that it was okay to eat; she looked around and considered walking off but decided to drop her head to eat and relax. I let her eat a few more mouthfuls before telling her that it was okay to walk on.



I asked her to do a circle to the left and to the right to test her attention to my leg; she complied. I dismounted and re-haltered her. I rode her through the choke-point; she trepidly walked through. I dismounted once we got to the beginning of the barn's driveway and led her the rest of the way back.

Once we were back home, I fed her her supplements then put her back out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I know that some people will say that letting her eat was "cheating" or "rewarding her for being scared".

I do not think that it was "cheating." I know that she would have tolerated the ATVs without the grass (because she did), but the grass made the situation less stressful for her. The situation was still stressful for her at first, but her stress was managed low enough to allow her the time to learn and become comfortable.
I think that a horse should get confidence from its rider, but I do not think that its rider needs to be the sole source of confidence. I do not think that it is cheating to ride with other horses to give your horse confidence the first time you ride through a specific stressful situation. Many people do this. While I do not have other horses to ride with, I do have grass; the principle is the same. I think that it becomes a problem when the horse does not get any confidence from its rider.

I do not think that it was "rewarding her for being scared." Fear is a very unpleasant feeling for a horse, and no horse wants to feel fear. I think that horses can display the same behaviors for different emotions, but I do not think that horses can fake emotions. If a horse rears when it is scared and when it does not want to work (testing; not out of fear), that does not mean that the horse is "pretending to be scared to get out of work." When my horse gets scared, her head gets high, her back gets tense, she looks around a lot, she blows, and she gets hesitant. I do not think that any amount or form of reinforcement will reward her enough for her to reproduce those behaviors when she is not scared.
Anyone who has tried to trailer load a fearful horse with food knows that a truly fearful horse will not eat. Horses do not like to eat when they are scared for two main reasons: dropping their head to eat decreases their field of vision; chewing noises decrease their hearing ability. Horses will still look around while their heads are down, but if they want to get a better look at something, they will raise their heads. Horses will stop eating, even mid-chew, to hear better. Chewing is loud; think of eating crunchy popcorn while watching a movie; it is harder to hear. For some horses, it is also a personality trait; some horses, like people, do not like to eat when stressed. Her dropping her head to eat is her telling me that she is actually not that scared. She may be nervous but not enough to not eat; grass calms those nerves. I know when she is scared because she will not eat, even after I tell her that it is okay to eat. If letting her eat was a reward for anything, it was a reward for her complying when I asked her to stop and relaxing next to the ATVs.

Fear is an emotion that every horse has experienced. Fear is a valid emotion that has kept them alive for a millennia. However, fear is not always advantageous for the growth of a horse, especially a trail horse. How to deal with fear is very situational. I think that the goal of dealing with fear is not to tell the horse "don't be scared"; it is to tell the horse "it's okay to be scared." It sounds counter-productive, but the horse needs to experience some level of fear for it to learn that it does not have to be fearful.
That level of fear is also very situational. I think that it is important to know your horse and understand the fear threshold and fear tolerance. Fear threshold is when a horse first starts to feel fearful. Fear tolerance is when a horse becomes overwhelmed with so much fear that it cannot learn how to deal with fear. I think that to teach a horse how to deal with fear, you need to go above the fear threshold but stay under the fear tolerance. If you stay under the fear threshold, the horse will not learn to deal with fear (because the horse is not at all fearful). If you go over the fear tolerance, the horse is too fearful to learn how to deal with fear.
There are horses that have a low fear threshold but a high fear tolerance; these horses have a lot of room for a level of fear where they can still learn how to deal with fear. There are horses that have a high fear threshold but a low fear tolerance; these horses have little room for a level of fear where they can still learn how to deal with fear. There are horses that have low fear thresholds and low fear tolerances; these horses tend to feed off of the fear of their riders, so they often need confident, experienced ones. There are horses with high fear thresholds and high fear tolerances; these horses tend to give confidence to their riders, so they often do well with fearful and/or inexperienced ones.
Regardless of which category a horse is in, I think that when you expose a horse to a scary situation, you should try to keep that fear as low as possible, just outside of the fear threshold. The higher out you go towards the fear tolerance, the more fearful the horse will become, the less room for error, and the higher the chance that the horse will not learn how to deal with fear; flooding a horse, forcing a horse into the freeze response, or going past the fear tolerance will not teach a horse how to deal with fear.
 

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I don’t think letting her eat was a big deal. I will say it kind of struck me that you had her bridleless. I guess, for me personally, I think of bridleless as something I do for showing off, or on occasion to figure out if my hands are getting in the way of something I am working on. I use it as a tool for my kids to better their slide stops when I think they are getting in their horses’ way.

So, I wouldn’t ride a horse bridleless into a situation I felt was dangerous myself. Of course, to each their own, and your reasons for riding that way may be different than mine. I can ride all but one of mine bridleless, but my reasoning is one usually not commendable I guess. Usually it is just showing off.
 
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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
I don’t think letting her eat was a big deal. I will say it kind of struck me that you had her bridleless. I guess, for me personally, I think of bridleless as something I do for showing off, or on occasion to figure out if my hands are getting in the way of something I am working on. I use it as a tool for my kids to better their slide stops when I think they are getting in their horses’ way.

So, I wouldn’t ride a horse bridleless into a situation I felt was dangerous myself. Of course, to each their own, and your reasons for riding that way may be different than mine. I can ride all but one of mine bridleless, but my reasoning is one usually not commendable I guess. Usually it is just showing off.
I originally took off her halter to let her graze because sometimes she gets a leg over the lead, or I drop it. I will be honest in saying that the reason I kept her bridleless was due to laziness. When the neighbor had warned us about those kids mudding their ATVs, I had already taken off her halter and remounted, and we weren't near anything mountable for when I would have dismounted to put on her halter. I assumed that she would be okay because she has been around ATVs before (she is around them daily, actually), but I have never ridden her bridleless around them. I know that it was a stupid risk, and I know what they say happens when you assume.
 
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