Belinda and her pasture mate, Dottie, sharing some hay.

Belinda and her pasture mate, Dottie, sharing some hay.

The last time I blogged, I had just uprooted my life and my horse as I took on a new job.

We’ve had several bumps in the road since then. It took Belinda, my Hanoverian mare, some time to settle in at a new boarding facility. The rainy season in Florida has set in, and regular afternoon thunderstorms keep me from riding as much I’d like to right now. It doesn’t matter much anyway, because the arena is underwater and the pastures are oozing with ankle-deep mud.

So it only makes sense that Belinda would finally pull a shoe.

Belinda and I are still trying to figure out where we fit in at this new barn. The other boarders are great and for the most part, all of the horses are friendly and mild-mannered. We’re in the process of syncing routine schedules for appointments. Which means it took nearly a week for the farrier to come out to replace Belinda’s shoe. (grumble.)

I went through two farriers before finding the perfect guy for Belinda at our previous barn. She’s a big mare with big feet. Shoes are a must for her, and I’ve become very particular about how I like for her to be shod. We’ve had some issues with lameness in the past.

But not wanting to look like the pain-in-the-ass boarder my first time around with a new farrier, I sat back quietly and watched him go to work on my horse. He was quick to point out all her imperfections. He criticized the work of my past farrier. He pulled a medical diagnosis out of his ass.

“Stringhalt!” he shouted, as my 17-year-old mare, who, ripe in her middle age, is a little stiff behind and swings out with her hind legs when asked to pick up her back feet. I knew little about the disorder, but listened as he rambled off the ways I needed to “fix” my horse.

Belinda in her paddock.

Belinda in her paddock.

I was skeptical. And then I did all the things you’re not supposed to do… I went down the Internet rabbit hole and read a million articles and forum posts about stringhalt, and in my delusion, believed that this crotchety old man who never met my horse before that day, was right.

I didn’t sleep that night. I obsessively texted my new trainer and barn manager. Everyone told me not to worry. Meanwhile, Belinda was still Belinda, showing no obvious signs of any muscular or nerve issues in her hind end and was happy to be out in the pasture or eating in her stall.

I was reminded by several equestrian friends (including some of my fellow HJU sisters) that I know my horse best. I know when she’s not feeling well or if something is off. It reminded me to trust my gut, and make a decision based on what I know is best for my horse.

I’ve decided to change her diet some (cut out sweet feed, limit her overall amount of sugar intake, and rely more heavily on forage,) just to see if it makes a difference. I’m pretty sure my reliable mare will continue on the way she always has. But it doesn’t hurt to be cautious, for now.

Meanwhile, I think I might find a new farrier.

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