How many times have we all done it?  We get rushed for time, race through our normal grooming routine, and speed tack so we can hurry up and ride.  Or we’re in a hurry to get home after a ride, and our horse takes forever to cool out, and we’re tired.  And in that great rush, we forget to pick our horse’s feet.  Or more accurately stated, we choose to let the feet slide.  “I’ll pick them later.”  “It’s just the feet.”

Well, after my adult dressage camp this week, I have a new appreciation for the need to care for feet.  The camp is for three hours in the evening, of which we ride for about 90 minutes.  Because this is dressage, there is a good bit of theory, and discussion, and debriefing.  Our ride was fine.  Uneventful.  And Charlie didn’t appear to be injured or compromised.

Until I dismounted, and we walked back to the barn.  He seemed to step a little funny.  Not a big deal, but just a little odd.  When we got back to the barn, and I parked Charlie in front of a fan to cool down, and started my usual grooming routine.  It was late because our camp had run long.  I was tired, and hot, and I wanted to go home.  And for a moment, I considered skipping Charlie’s feet.  Then I changed my mind, and boy am I glad I did!

Charlie is a Friesian cross, so he has big feet — big, heavy feet.  And my back was sore from having moved bookcases at home the weekend before.  But I thought, “No, I can’t skip the feet.”  He’s always had good, solid feet, and I want to keep them that way.  So I lifted his feet, picked them out, and brushed away all the sand I could.  First one, then another.


When I got to the left front hoof, even in the dark, I could tell something wasn’t right.  As I circled the hoof pick around the inside of the shoe it became clear.  The shoe was coming off.

I ran to get Andrea, a trusted member of our barn’s staff who was on duty that night, and asked her to help me pull the shoe.  I described what I could see, and she reassured me that it probably was no big deal, unless there were toe clips on the shoes, because if the clip had slipped under his foot, it could be poking into his foot bed.

The worst case would be for the clip to insert itself into the white line.  And Charlie’s shoes have toe clips.  When we started to take the shoe off, it was apparent that the toe clip had poked into the foot bed near the frog, but we had avoided the white line.  Whew!

We chose to play it conservatively and had the vet look at it the following day.  On her recommendation,  we are now on a schedule of soaking and wrapping his hoof for the next few days.  The vet will peek in on it in a couple of days, and the plan is to re-shoe on Monday.  Just one week from injury to being back in service.  But we avoided a major injury, and kept Charlie’s time out of commission to a minimum.

And you had better believe that I won’t even think about skipping his feet from now on…