I love the Instagram Top Nine idea. It’s so fun to see what the top liked posts are in your feed. I don’t do a personal instagram anymore so I thought I would just go through my 2018 photos and pick my own top nine or ten or fifteen… Plus this will be a fun way to go through 2018 🙂

In 2018 Zorro got his first harness, the MaraFUN SuperFUN harness in Neon Green and Hurricane Blue!

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He is quite proprietary about this harness and knows it’s HIS. If I use it on another horse he has quite a fit. I love that he loves to come out and play!

Sky and I went on a camping/trail driving trip with the Ten Mile Drivers last spring. It was such a wonderful trip and one I would like to repeat this year with Mikey! This one deserves two photos because Sky also overcame an entire lifetime’s fear of water during this trip! She will now drink out of live streams and willingly crosses all water.

Sky started driving in an open bridle this year.

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We didn’t do it for very long because we also got a… HYPERBIKE! This is our Hyperbike Smile!!

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Mikey came to live with us. I restarted him driving and he continues to be a total rock star and a natural. He flew through the ground work and is now pulling the easy entry cart, the Hyperbike and the sled!

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I had to say goodbye to my sweet Bonnie. I have a Bonnie sized hole in my heart and miss her every single day.

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Zorro was in his first parade and totally ROCKED it! He was a unicorn and made a little girl’s day when she thought he was a ‘real’ unicorn (which of course we all know he IS!!) My BBF Teresa lead him in the parade and we went hiking with the ponies as well. They carried our water and lunches 🙂

I attended my first Combined Driving Event in Washington State with my new bosses, Maren and Janie Amdal of Chimacum Tack!! Whoot whoot! So yes I also got a new job this year. One that makes me so happy to get up every day and go to work. I can’t believe I get paid to do what I love!

For Mikey’s official 3rd drive I hauled him and Sky into town so we could drive with some friends of ours, Rachel and Sue. It was an awesome day!! Sue rode Flinn and young quarter horse gelding and all did so well. It’s such a blessing to have friends that are so fun!

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There was a Halloween drive with the Ten Mile Drivers club, lots of little drives with Mikey, plans to attend clinics at the Frasier School of Driving (which I am hoping to get to do this year!) and dressing up for Christmas. All-in-all it was a very busy 2018 and though I put all the high points here there were plenty of low points in my personal life. But with my phrase for 2019 and a positive attitude I am looking forward into this new year!

Shine Your Light into 2019!!

And thank you for all the lessons 2018…

I got my Hyperbike a few weeks ago and have been spending some time getting it perfectly balanced so both Sky and I can enjoy our drives! After a bit of juggling around with the shafts, it is now what I would deem “perfect.” I am so excited!!!

Sky is 37″ tall at the withers and after talking with Bob Graham, the designer and builder of the Hyperbike, we decided to get the B sized shafts. I ordered the pneumatic tires and then tried to wait patiently! (Actually it didn’t take very long for it to arrive… just about 6 weeks!)

Here is a little bit about the Hyperbike in case you haven’t heard of one:

Whether they be mini horses, donkeys or mini ponies, most owners would like to share with them more open trail time if the carriage was lightweight, stable and up to, not only the easy forest paths, but also the rougher cross-country terrain. This is possible with the HyperBike ; smaller, lighter and quicker than any other vehicle made for miniatures.

A couple of things set the HyperBike in its very own class. It was created and designed specifically for miniatures. In no way is it a scaled-down version of any pony or horse vehicle. It is also designed to truly understand the minis, physically and mentally.  -From the Hyperbike Website

I was babysitting when the bike arrived and my youngest son, Logan and the baby I watch helped me put it all together! The baby was so sad that it arrived “broken” but was quickly made to feel better as we snapped it all together! And I say snapped because aside from a few bolts to attach the seat, everything slides together and then is held in place by locking pins. It is absolute genius!

Once we had it all together I went in the house to grab my phone and when I came out I found the baby pulling the bike all around the front yard! That is how lightweight and perfectly balanced this cart is.

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As soon as I had time, I hitched Sky to the bike, and we had our first balancing session.

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This was our first driving session in the Hyperbike. She seemed quite happy but I couldn’t lean all the way back in the seat without the shaft ends flipping up. So I knew I had some work to do!

 

I went to Facebook and shared the photos and a little video.

People loved it! I didn’t go over my issues very  much then because I wasn’t going to have time to mess with it. I was heading to Washington to volunteer at the EL CDE at Happs. When I got home I went right back out and played with it again!

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This picture sparked a lot of interest! People felt that Sky was too close to the front of the Hyperbike and my stirrups were too long. BUT I have a bad knee so I have to have my stirrups a bit long to accommodate that. But as for her being too close she certainly was! In this photo I had lengthened my traces and tightened the breeching which kept her forward a bit more in the shafts. But they were just not going to be long enough.

To have the bike feel balanced and so I could lean back in the seat I had to have the seat all the way forward and on the highest (which is actually the lowest hole) setting for the tires. But the ends of the shafts did still bounce in the shaft loops instead of float. In this video I go over every adjustment I made to try to get everything to balance.

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This is what Sky thought of all the adjusting and balancing!!

The consensus was that I need the longer, C shafts. So I emailed Bob and he sent them straight off to me! I got them in just a few days and we continued our adjusting…

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I love the C shafts! They are longer, wider and just plain bigger. They are actually a little bit too big for Sky, but with a bit more adjusting of the traces everything will work well. The C shafts are perfect for Zorro and Mikey so I’m thrilled that this set will fit everyone!

In the above photo I had her as far forward as I could get her, my traces don’t go any longer. I don’t like how the shaft loops pull forward. I need to have them in front of the shaft stops that are on the shaft because otherwise the curve of the shaft is up at her shoulder which is not comfortable or correct. I also had the seat all the way forward and the wheels on the highest setting.

Since this video I have lowered the seat by putting the wheels on the middle hole, the seat all the way forward and my stirrups longer again. I have let her traces down from the hold back straps of the breeching and made a set of trace carriers out of para cord for now. Janie from Chimacum Tack is sending me some trace extenders to make my traces longer and a set of trace carriers. Then we should be all set!!

Because the line of draft is a little lower than when hitched to the easy entry cart, the line of the traces drops a bit back at her hip. So the trace carriers will hold those traces up so they don’t flop around and so she can’t easily get her leg over them.

I will also add that I have ordered a pair of 6 1/2′ purple reins to use when driving the Hyperbike as well! They will be the perfect length I think!

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I don’t want to jinx myself and to be honest harnessing and hitching is an ever evolving thing, but for now I will say it… The Hyperbike is balancing perfectly for Sky and making our drives so so enjoyable. We are both so relaxed and happy now that we finally have the bike! I can’t wait to take her up in the mountains and enjoy some great drives close to home because I can now load and unload my vehicle all by myself!!

My boys and I mowed a nice big track out in one of our pastures. We also made a smaller, oval track to use as a warm up area. I wanted to mow the track because we have a lot of old irrigation ditches, gopher holes and rocks in our pastures and I want to be able to see these hiding in the tall grass. It also gave me a chance to walk it and pick the best route possible.

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Driving on the small track.

The first time I drove Sky on the small track she did very well. We went around one direction about 6 times, then I had her change direction and we went around 6 more times. It was a decent warm up, took us about 15 minutes and she was walking and trotting nicely, so we moved onto the large track. Once we got about 1/3 of the way around the big track Sky lost it big time. She was hopping forward, front feet off the ground, head held high, bouncing along. Then she could she would power ahead and just basically run away with me. Suddenly the mowed track didn’t seem important at all as I managed her emotions by having her do figure of eights and circle, circle, circle. When a driving horse loses it like this you can’t simply get off and do some ground work. It would have been very dangerous for me to try to unharness her when she was incapable of keeping her feet still or even on the ground! So I held on for dear life, nearly bouncing out of the cart a few times!! And because my footman’s loops are too far back the breeching kept loosening and then slamming tight against her butt as the cart bounced around behind her. This didn’t help her mind at all.

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Driving on the large track. She is fine with this part of the track. Where it curves out there by the fence is where she looses her s-h-i-t.

We finally made it back to the smaller track where we went back to work circling, circling, circling. Finally she calmed down enough to walk a bit and cool off some. She was drenched in sweat and foaming a bit between her legs and under her harness. I was sweating myself! I unharnessed her, cooled her down and let her stand tied for a little while.

Onto day two! It was much the same. The warm up went very well, but once we went out onto the larger track and got about 1/3 of the way around it she lost it again. When she starts to lose it her breathing changes and she makes a roaring sound. She gets super high headed and tight across her top line and she won’t listen to the bit at all. I did several one rein stops, basically circling her until the circle got too tight and she would stop, but she was heaving and not relaxed once stopped so we would move again. When she gets right brained – reactive – like this she is not using the thinking side of her brain but just reacting. The best thing I can do to help her is allow her to move her feet, but in a way that changes the pattern. Hence the figure of eights! This causes her to change direction, change direction and change direction all while allowing her feet to move, until her brain turns back on. It took a few minutes and then she was half way listening so we turned around and headed back towards the small track. It was slow going as I had to keep circling and circling her whenever she started rushing.

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On our way back to the small track.

I found the whole thing very interesting and a little frustrating as I had hoped the track would be a relaxing way to exercise her. Not hard on her joints and close to home. It also means I don’t have to put her boots on every time I drive. But it is not the time for that!

The third day I took her back out on the road, where she was calm and connected the entire drive. No rushing, no losing her mind. She walked and trotted and cantered when I asked and was very happy to be out and about!

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Sky happy to be back on the road again!

I had to laugh as I realized that she was happy to be out because she KNOWS what is going to happen when we drive on the road. She is comfortable with road driving because that is where we have spent most of our driving hours. Even her early years of driving where done on the road. Barking dogs, cars, trucks, tractors, all these are fine because she is familiar with them. Toss in a nice quiet mowed grass track and she looses her s-h-i-t. How interesting!

I have also noticed that she likes wearing bells. She is far less reactive when she has bells on as they tend to drown out the other sounds. Sounds of hoof beats off in the distance and sounds of the grass brushing under the cart.

Some horses like to be able to see all around them when they drive. Not Sky. When I restarted her this spring I started in her a halter and she was like a bomb waiting to blow as we drove down the road. When the horses would run up to the fence she would try to bolt, when the birds flew up from the grass or out from a shed alongside the road, she would shy and spin around to run home. When the sunlight reflected off a mud puddle she would spin that travois around SO FAST that sometimes I barely knew what happened! Then I put her blinders on and everything changed. She didn’t spook at the birds every time. She quit being so reactive to the horses along side the road. She barely glanced at mud puddles. Basically, she had her work suit on and it was time to drive! That’s how it is with the bells. What she doesn’t know about won’t hurt her. She likes to live in oblivion. Some horses don’t like that at all and need to see and hear everything.

Years ago we had a Haflinger that we drove and she went best in an open bridle. If you had blinders on her everything that touched her butt was a mountain lion trying to eat her. Without the blinders anything could touch her butt (except maybe a mountain lion!) and she took it in stride.

I guess what I’m sharing tonight is take the time to learn about your horse. Be flexible. Just because you think driving or riding in a bitless bridle is the best thing for a horse they may feel differently. If your horse goes better with the blinders, then drive with the blinders. If they don’t like the blinders, then drive in an open bridle.

Understand their body language and what they are trying to say. It’s especially important with a driving horse as you can’t feel their muscles tighten or their breathing change as well since you are behind them. You may miss some of the more subtle cues they give if you aren’t aware and listening all the time.

Tonight I drove Sky out on the road again. It was raining a bit and very chilly, but she was happy as could be trotting down the road.

When we got to the two track road her head went up some. I paid attention and started talking with her a bit more using my reins. I knew there must be something down in the ravine off to our right so I began to pay more attention over there. Sure enough about 40 head of antelope started streaming up the side of the ravine and off through a fence to the south of us. Sky’s head went up even more as she heard them moving through the grass so I had her stop and watch. She was keyed up pretty good and thought about bolting once or twice but I was able to keep her there with my voice. After they finished moving off she sighed and licked and chewed then turned and walked off. Her head went up a few more times as the stragglers moved off and then a few deer came up out of the ravine as well, but she was listening to me and not thinking about running off. Then when we went back around that same lane she blew out repeatedly, letting go of more of that anxiety.

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Left: Sky relaxed and connected. Right: Her head is up and she is getting worried about something.

When we circled back to the road she was relaxed and trotted happily down the road and then walked home.

These last few days just really got me thinking about how each horse is an individual and if you understand your horse, see things from their point-of-view, it can really help you, to help them, become more calm and connected.

Whoot whoot! My new saddle and bridle and a bigger girth (for my very ‘mature’ mare Sky) came in the mail today! I was so excited. I spent quite a bit of time just sitting and looking them over. I brought in my old harness parts and pieced the harness together, put the bit and the reins on the new bridle and just admired it all. Then I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to go out and try everything on Sky!

Our harness is now 90% Comfy Fit Harness! I bought all my pieces from Chimacum Tack. We have:

All we need is the Comfy Fit Breeching, turn back strap, hold back straps and the crupper and our entire harness will be the Comfy Fit harness. I’ve spend the last year and a half saving up money and buying it one piece at a time!

The first thing I bought was the Deluxe Breast Collar because I knew Sky would be so much more comfortable pulling the cart over our rough terrain with that piece of equipment. That was the #1 piece for us!

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Comfy Fit Deluxe Collar

I noticed that she has had some shoulder and wither discomfort lately and I think that’s due to the treeless saddle that was also a bit too short for her. Since she has gotten so much ‘bigger’ much of her old harness just doesn’t fit her very well anymore. I’m not sure it will fit any of my ponies as they are all bigger than Sky! (I like my minis BIG. An oxymoron, I know.) The short, treeless saddle just creates pressure behind her withers and shoulders and doesn’t help disperse the roughness of our terrain. (Though I am addressing this with the independent suspension kit I have on order from Patty’s Pony Place!! Whoot whoot! It’s all coming together!)

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As you can see the old saddle is way too short. I bought the long pad to go under it trying to help her out some and I think it did help! But I love the new long, wrap around style of the Comfy Fit Saddle. It’s also padded all the way down the sides as well!

I love the look of the Comfy Fit Bridle and knew I had to have one for her as well. And of course after I tried everything on her and took her for a short spin around the yard… I put the flowers on the brow band! The blinders are bigger and round. I love how they are cupped so they won’t rub on her eyelashes. The cheek pieces are sleek and lay flat against her face. The nose band is lined and so soft. The back of the nose band is also padded along her jaw line. The poll strap is contoured to fit behind the ears better and it’s also padded and so soft! It’s just a very pretty headstall and fits the miniature horse head wonderfully!

Old bridle on the left and new Comfy Fit Bridle on the right!

I am so so excited about my harness. It looks so beautiful on Sky and will look just as good on Zorro and Essie as well! I am very happy with my choice to have it lined with brown leather. That look is very striking.

Here is a short video of us playing in the front yard! It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to drive Sky so she was full of it!

She is so cute!

 

Next up on the list of harness parts is the breast collar. There are a few types of breast collars and I happen to have 3 of them! So I’ll go through each and talk about pros and cons.

First up is the regular ‘straight’ breast collar. This one actually has a little bit of a shape to it, it’s not totally straight, it’s narrow and doesn’t have the buckle in traces, but has the sewn in traces. If you have this type and drive over rough ground it’s a good idea to have a breast collar pad. They are just too narrow for my comfort.

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In this photo you can see there is a relative straight line from the breast collar to the breeching. This breast collar was adjusted as big as I could make it. I do feel this harness is a bit too small for Sky since she is such a ‘mature’ mare now 😉 So ideally I would want to drop that breast collar just one more hole. I don’t because I need it to reach back to the saddle and hook on the water hook (or bearing rein hook) as I explain below.

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The photo collage below shows the breast collar properly adjusted, then adjusted too low and then too high!

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Left: Proper adjustment.  Middle: Adjusted too low.  Right: Adjusted too high.

Also pay attention to the neck strap. That is the piece that goes over the neck and holds the breast collar up. This piece tends to carry some weight if there is ANY balance issue with your cart – and even if your cart is well balanced but you drive over rough ground or hit a bump. If you have a breast collar like this the neck strap tends to be narrow and can put a lot of pressure on a skinny spot across the neck causing discomfort. You can actually see this happening. If you aren’t sure, have someone take a few photos or make a video of you driving so you can clearly see that strap. The best thing to do to help your horse is to hook that neck strap back to the water hook on the saddle. You can buy a little leather piece as shown here or simply use a piece of twine! For years I drove my horses with twine tying that piece back. I actually did that because I got so uncomfortable seeing that strap ‘cut’ into my horses neck. Turns out that was exactly the right thing to do! The saddle will help the horse manage the weight that tends to ride on that strap.

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Next up is my favorite breast collar for most every day driving with the proper line of draft –  the Deep V breast collar! This one is from Chimacum Tack and is called the Comfy Fit Breast Collar Deluxe black with the russet leather lining.

In the photo below you can see the relative straight line from the breast collar to the breeching. I love the fact that this collar has the buckle in traces. Once you have buckle in traces you never want to go back!! They are much more adjustable as far as getting them positioned in the shafts just right. This makes them more user friendly.

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The photo collage below shows the breast collar properly adjusted, then adjusted too low and then too high.

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You need to be sure the breast collar clears the point of shoulder but doesn’t cut into the wind pipe. This can take some adjusting to get it just right.

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I love the fact that it has the double strap neck strap. Again the neck strap has a buckle that goes back to that water hook. This keeps in place. The width of the neck strap helps if any extra weight happens to land there. I do all I can with the balance of my cart to assure there isn’t much weight there. Using the correct collar with the correct line of draft is extremely important for the comfort of your horse, as you’ll see soon!

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And from the front. I love the V as it helps the collar sit at the right spot without interfering with the windpipe.

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Okay now we are going to get into the interesting stuff!!! Breast collars were designed with a certain line of draft in mind. When using your typical breast collar, as shown above, you need to have a line of draft that goes from the breast collar relatively straight back to the front of the cart – with the single tree in line behind the horses rear end.

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If you are using a cart that has a low line of draft, with the single tree below the horse’s rear end then you need to use a different collar, the collar and hames. There is a reason they use these collars for hard working horses that are dragging logs, farm machinery, harrows, and/or fore carts. The collar and hames helps the horse manage the lower line of draft by allowing the horse to pull from the chest and shoulders and NOT the neck strap. When you use a regular collar for a low line of draft most of the weight from behind (the weight of you and your vehicle) ends up on that neck strap. Just flip through some photos online and you’ll see the pressure that ends up on that neck strap!

We set up a little experiment here today and harnessed Sky to my sled and put 3 tires in the sled for weight. I didn’t want her to work too hard as we have so much smoke from the fires all over our state, but I did want to show this! It’s absolutely astounding how much weight ends up in that neck strap when driving with the low line of draft.

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My son took the photo on the right right after we stopped moving and you can see how upset Sky is about this set up. She is not shy about telling me when she isn’t happy or is uncomfortable… plus she is in heat right now so she is even more sensitive! I hope you can see the pressure that is pushing down on her neck strap. Watching her try to pull this wasn’t fun. You’ll see in the video below!

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I talked about this issue with several people over the last year. Trying to understand why this happens and what to do about it. When I showed some photos I found to my Handsome Hubby (who went to college for engineering) he knew what the problem was immediately. He explained to me that the weight from the load behind is traveling up the traces and then hits the Y where the breast collar goes around the chest and over the neck. So the weight tries to disperse across BOTH places. It does not just disperse across the chest. My youngest son, who is my photographer and videographer, doesn’t know anything about horses or harnesses or carts (I know. It’s so sad and breaks my heart a tiny bit.) BUT he could see how hard it was for Sky to pull this load. He said her legs were buckling more with the deep V collar than when we switched to the proper collar and hames. It was so noticeable.

Now we’ll see the proper collar for this low line of draft, the collar and hames! My son took this photo immediately after we stopped and she looks relaxed and happy. The draft collar allows the horse to pull the vehicle weight with the front of their shoulders and their chest. When she was pulling this set up she could lean into the collar. When she was pulling with the deep V collar she didn’t feel able to lean in because of the pinching across her neck.

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I see people driving their beautiful marathon vehicles (or two wheeled vehicles) that have this low line of draft and using a regular style breast collar all the time. I am constantly cruising the internet studying driving photos and videos as I feel I have so much to learn. But when I see these set ups it breaks my heart a tiny bit for the horses. When you can visibly see the weight pressing down on the horse’s neck in photos it just starts to seem so obvious! I hope that this post helps you understand why it’s so important to use the correct breast collar or collar and hames based on your vehicle and it’s line of draft.

Here is a few videos to leave you with. Hopefully it will give you something to think about 🙂

 

 

 

Finally! The post about the Sure Foot® pads. I know, I’ve kept you all waiting on pins and needles! I wanted to have some time to use them… to see if there would be any changes worth blogging about and may I say WOW! Definitely changes worth blogging about!

Here is a little blurb about the Sure Foot® pads from their website:

A unique, innovative way for the horse to be his own teacher. Developed by Wendy Murdoch, this revolutionary way of improving your horse’s balance, confidence, movement and performance shows that the horse is always present and ready to learn if we can only find ways to access his intelligence. This approach allows the horse to experience his own habitual patterns of movement and provides the horse with an opportunity to explore and learn new ways of standing on his feet and utilizing the ground for greater ease, comfort and confidence.  -Sure Foot® | The Murdoch Method

I wanted to try these first because of Bonnie’s laminitis and second because Sky has been ouchie on the road even with boots on. Sky has been acting off for about 2 months and I couldn’t pin point any reason for her to be! I’ve been keeping all the horses off the grass — except for the night of the 4th of July. Sky got spooked by the fireworks and busted through the electric fence, breaking several insulators, putting Sky, Captain and Zorro in the middle of track where all the grass is, all. night. long. Sigh. Sometimes I feel like they are trying to kill themselves. Anyway, I ruled out laminitis because she is eating low sugar/low starch hay and is not on grass. I figured the Sure Foot® pads wouldn’t hurt and maybe they would help! (I decided on the Soft pads after Wendy suggested them because of Bonnie’s laminitis. Both girls have been wearing boots with pads in them so the idea of a springy surface didn’t bother them at all…)

One of the things that intrigued me about them was the idea that the pads help horses have a new connection with the earth. They can find a new way to stand and move.

With SURE FOOT®, using a variety of stability and balance pads, horses discover how they are habitually standing. The pad gives under the horses’s weight bringing his attention to where he is placing his feet and providing new information to the balancing part of his nervous system. With this awareness the horse explores, shifts and alters his habitual patterns of standing and moving by himself, ultimately choosing a more secure and effective way to stand and move. The horse retrains himself to stand better without human interference.  -Sure Foot® – The Murdoch Method

I figured this would help Bonnie as well. While I know her soles are very thin and her coffin bone is rotated, I have been working diligently on the angles of her heel and toe to help alleviate pressure. However she was not changing how she moved very much. I wanted to try this thinking she may be conditioned to walk very carefully and be extremely lame. Whether that is true or not, since I started using the pads, Bonnie will now gallop around the track, bucking and rearing and racing. She is walking out completely normally when booted and has even started going without boots for several hours a day. She walks carefully when ‘barefoot’ but is not getting sore footed at all!

Bonnie falling asleep with both feet on one pad.

Another thing is Sky has been very spooky, barn sour and buddy sour and kind of a stinker when driving. This last month has been absolutely crazy for me and I haven’t been able to get her out much, except to brush her, file her feet a bit and put her on the Sure Foot® pads. She is a bit funny about her feet so she wouldn’t stand on the pads for more than a few seconds at first. And I quickly found that she only liked to stand on one pad at a time. (Bonnie will put both her front feet on one pad!)

Sky standing on one pad. This is how she liked it at first.

It took a lot of putting her foot on the pad, having her step off, me taking her for a walk about, then putting her other foot on the pad, having her step off, me taking her for a walk about, then putting her other foot on the pad, having her step off, me taking her for a walk about… Sigh. Finally on the second or third day of the pads, I put her foot on the pad and she sighed, dropped her head, licked and chewed and set to swaying. She spent quite a few minutes on the pad before stepping off and when she stepped off she gave a big sigh and YAWNED. Beautiful!

She has been using the Sure Foot® pads for about 2 weeks 3-4 times a week and when I was able to start driving her again on Friday, last week, she was a different horse mentally! I am totally amazed at how much calmer she is. She is more forward when driving. She offers the canter and can hold her beautiful extended trot for longer and longer periods. She is also starting to fall into her extended trot more readily.

In addition to reprogramming the balancing portion of the brain there is obviously an affect on the instinctive part of the brain. While it cannot be fully explained there is a calming effect, shifting the horse from the fight & flight reaction or sympathetic autonomic nervous system (ANS) response to the grazing or parasympathetic (ANS) response. Some horses experience an even deeper level of relaxation believed to be caused by a release of endorphins somehow triggered by standing on the pads.  –Sure Foot® – The Murdoch Method

I was intrigued by the above statement and wondered if the pads would help Sky let go of some of her anxiety. I would say they have!! We are able to go miles away from our house now. I’m driving her places I’ve only dreamed about because I couldn’t get her more than a mile away from home without her having a minor melt down. I didn’t want to push her too much and cause a problem when I didn’t really have one so I went slow and easy. Now I don’t have to do any online warm up. I harness her and hitch her right to the cart! We trot around the side yard once and she powers down the driveway in her extended trot, ears hard forward looking at where we are going instead of worrying about what the horses at home are doing! It’s amazing! She is pulling me up some pretty steep hills and just won’t stop. She puts her head down and leans into her breast collar. I have to jump out as she is going when the going gets too steep because she won’t stop. I am so impressed!! She is going to have muscles in places she’s never had muscles!

Sky's pretty face. - www.theessentialhorse.com

I love looking at the pads when I they are done. The hoof impressions are pretty cool!

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This is Sky’s hoof impression.
Bonnie’s hoof impressions.

Here is a video of the girls standing on the pads the first day. To get this video I had to kind of hold Sky on the pads. When I untied her and let her decide she started the one foot on, step off, walk, another foot on, step off, walk….

And this video is from yesterday! They both have it figured out. Now Sky will sometimes step off and then put her feet back on all by herself. And she will stand on both pads at the same time now!

Please let me know if you have any questions about the pads! I’ll do my best to answer them. I know when I was trying to decide, to buy or not to buy, I couldn’t find enough information! So I’ll do my best to help you make a decision.

 

 

Today. Was. AWESOME!!! I had a busy day, running to town, then walking the dogs (we walked 4 miles!) then working on Bonnie, oiling and massaging her, trying to help her manage the pain, then harnessing Sky and driving down the road!!! She was so ready for this. She has been wanting to just put her head down and trot from some time now. Both of us were so happy!

SO happy!!

I didn’t want to ask her to do something that was unfair at this early stage, so I didn’t drive her for very long and we stayed on the flat part of the road, driving back and forth in front of my house, past our driveway. She would trot very fast whenever we were turned towards our driveway so we have some barn sour stuff to work through. But I was thinking about it and I don’t think my mom ever drove her alone! I think we always drove together. So Sky is a bit unconfident when it’s just her out there. She definitely likes it more when Bonnie is with us. Hopefully Bonnie will heal up soon so she can join us!

We are going to work up to driving down to my neighbors house this week and next week. We will have to drive past some horses that Sky has only seen once and then down their driveway with 4 big dogs, 3 miniature horses and about 30 chickens, ducks, and geese! So I want her a bit more confident before we tackle THAT!!

My set up! Those tires are wonderful. We have some rough country with sage bushes and big rocks so I’m thrilled with the spokes and the big, wide tires. Big tires make the cart easier to pull! I am really looking forward to getting the sliding back band with a tree from Comfy fit harness as well.

I love love my curved shafts! I love how they help balance the cart. I love that they make the shaft loops sit at a certain spot making it so they don’t slide forward and back and the best part is when Sky turns her head to visit with me her rein doesn’t get hung up on the end of the shaft!! Also when turning the shaft ends do not interfere with her shoulder at all. When we are a bit smoother I will video that for you! I have a few adjustments to make with the shaft loops but everything seemed to work together very well today.

Sky is such a pretty, smart girl. We were both pretty proud of ourselves today!