Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pick Those Feet


I have a confession to make. I hate to pick out my horses’ feet. It’s messy and my hands always get filthy and it’s how I threw my back out last week. So, it became a real test of self-discipline when I decided this summer that I will pick out their feet every morning and every evening. I want to do everything I can to insure that we don’t have any hoof abscesses after last summer’s drama. I’ve put shoes on their front feet now, which was a really good idea since it gives them more support. I think it takes the weight off their back feet. It also holds the muck in more than bare feet do.

To my surprise, the hoof picking has become a little spiritual practice for me and my girls. At first, Siete wasn’t thrilled about it. Some days, she tolerated it, but others, she pinned her ears - “Oh no, not again with the hoof pick!” And once, she even tried to nip my butt. I let her know right away that this is a reaction that would not be tolerated. Eventually, she started to realize that it feels better not to have all that muddy gunk stuck in her frogs. It amazes me how much gets packed in.

So, while I don’t really feel like doing it most nights, I am always glad that I did once I’ve finished. I sleep better knowing that my horses’ feet aren’t filled up with sticky, muddy goop when I close their stall doors and go to bed. There’s something honorable about sticking to the discipline and not letting it slide, even when my back was aching. Both of the girls welcome the last touch of attention that I give them each night. I find myself lingering to scratch an itchy spot or touch up the fly spray. It’s the four-legged equivalent of tucking my daughter into bed with a goodnight hug.

9 comments:

Kate said...

I'm a big believer in picking feet at least once a day - we have rocks that can get picked up, and a lot of mud. My Noble is prone to thrush and keeping his feet picked helps quite a bit. It is hard, and I've hurt my back doing it as well, so I sympathize!

deejbrown said...

It is a discipline of the body for sure, especially with a sore back. Hope you are doing okay with that!

Pony Girl said...

Good for you! I don't like it, either. In fact, over the winter, I would just pick his fronts since those are the ones with shoes, and skip the back since they were always empty. But I realized I was short changing him, even just the practice of lifting those feet for me, which he is so bad about anyway due to some arthritis in his hocks.

Anonymous said...

Is there a stretch you can do before and after that would your back a little?

John and Regina Zdravich said...

I gotta hand it to you for dedication -- twice a day!!! I wish I could say that I am as good about hoof-picking, but I am not. But I suppose once you have had the hoof abscess problem, that is a big motivator. We have sand here, and it seems that a lot of times I go to pick the hooves there is nothing in them....so I don't worry about it too much, which may not be too smart.

Anonymous said...

I must be strange but i love picking my boys feet out and making sure that they are clean before bed...i too have a sore back from time to time and he lets me pick them out whislt sat on a upturned bucket bless him your girls might take pity on you snd let you do that x x

Esther Garvi said...

Funny how we like different tasks. I actually enjoy hoof picking, but that's because our girls are so good at lifting their feet - and during dry season in Niger, there's hardly anything to pick except for a bit of dried sand and occasionally, a big seed that's makes it worth the ritual!

Horseartist said...

Since my horse has been living in a pea gravel paddock at our new barn, his feet are pristine! The only time I have anything to clean out is after trailering. I have to say that it's a real treat. I trim my own, so can relate to the back issue though...

Callie said...

I've been real regular about cleaning out feet these days myself. Kola loves it, does mind it at all, anywhere anytime, Misty on the other hand shift her weight around to make it difficult, LOL, smart arse horse.