Christina here with a Project Floki update! After my last post I went on vacation for 2 weeks then promptly got sick. This means that Floki had a good 3+ weeks off! Again, this post is purely my experience and not sponsored by any companies or products.
Floki’s hooves changed A LOT in the weeks following her shoe removal in early September. They quickly widened and started changing shape. Unfortunately, Scoot Boots are a very precise fit. Within a week of buying them, they no longer fit. I did some research and found that Cavallo boots were a little more forgiving. She was due for a trim in mid October so I gave her a few more days off until her trim. It’s important to get your boots sized soon after a fresh trim.
I went to the local tack shop when I got back and got a few different sizes to try. They come with a super handy measuring tape that makes finding the right size simple.
Floki looked so comfortable in the Cavallo boots! She looked nice and sound, with heel-first landings. It’s important to break them in slowly to prevent rubs so we kept rides short and slowly built them up over time.
Floki’s weight has been a rollercoaster! She was moderately thin when she arrived but had some muscling from being in work. Moving to Maryland and all the changes that came with it was a big change for her. The stress caused her to lose weight rather quickly. Cindy (the barn owner) helped me manage her weight and over the summer we were able to get her to start putting on some pounds.
I wasn’t able to ride a whole lot over the summer because she was lame from pulling shoes. When I started the barefoot transition in September, she was nowhere near sound for riding. She had trouble just walking around the field!
The horses are turned out 24/7 in the fall when the weather is nice which was really good for her hooves. Movement is key. At this point, Floki was eating a good amount of grain, turned out with unlimited access to hay, and was getting no exercise. She packed on the weight fast and developed a big hay belly! Her grain was cut back to help manage her weight in mid-October.
Back to Work
Floki was sound with her Cavallo boots but incredibly out of shape. I had the saddle fitter back out to help make sure she was comfortable for work. I have a half pad with shims that the fitter was able to alter to help my saddle fit.
Then, slowly and carefully, I brought Floki back into work. We were both out of shape and basically starting over in her training again. I did a variety of groundwork, hand walking around the farm, riding, and fun days to keep things interesting. I started taking lessons again as well. I slowly increased her work level and intensity over the next 6-8 weeks.
Where We’re At Today
Things are going well and we’re getting into a rhythm. Floki gets 2 to 3 days off in a row each week, three to four rides, and a mixture of liberty, positive reinforcement training, and groundwork to keep it fun. We’ve also started hacking around the farm with the other boarders.
She’s playing in the field with her friends again and seems much more comfortable barefoot. I put her hoof boots on each time I ride or work with her in the arena. She’s barefoot besides that.
The increased exercise is really starting to help her overall condition. Her hay belly is slowly shrinking and her fat deposits are turning into muscle.
We’re working on the dressage training scale – focusing first on relaxation. We’ve started to dabble into suppleness and contact at this point. I’ve also started trying different bits now that she has a softer mouth.
Grateful that we were able to get back to riding so quickly. Floki is such a rockstar, she’s incredibly laid back but has her own motor which makes her a dream to ride. She’s used to professionals riding her so she really challenges me. I’m also making progress closing the gaps in her training.
I’m trying to keep realistic expectations for the upcoming months. Winter is here and soon the ground will be too frozen to ride. I’m taking advantage of as much good riding weather as I can to continue training for now! I’m also gathering ideas of things to work on when we’re no longer able to ride in the depths of winter. I’m sure she’ll end up getting some extended time off but I know we’ll be back at it come spring!