Sunday, March 16, 2014

Draft Horse Heresy

Our first "real" trail ride yesterday (as in, actually on a trail and not just around the farm) was frankly...disappointing. But the good news is that I was able to figure Polly out a little more which made our second trail ride today AWESOME.

Yesterday I went out with Polly's owner and another boarder, both also on draft crosses (much smaller than Polly though!). We walked, trotted, cantered, jumped--but Polly was stronger than I expected, and was ignoring my half-halts and attempts to create some space in between her and the horse in front of her. Steering? Not so much.

Polly's owner told me to just get after her when she wasn't listening--stronger half halts, booting her to move off my leg, etc.--and for last quarter or so of the ride I had a lot more control, which was good.

So for today's ride, rather than meandering around for the walk warmup, I insisted that Polly stay straight and march on. We also did a few 20m circles in the arena before we went out, and I think that helped to set the level of responsiveness for the whole ride. And it also helped that I had some idea where we were going since we went on the same trails. Mostly trot today, but we did have a little bit of canter after we hopped over some logs! Tearing around the woods is my new favorite thing! I'm hoping I might be able to borrow a GoPro camera from my dad or Byron's dad to record our adventures.

She roots at the bit a fair amount, which is annoying but I just bridged my reins and let her do whatever she was going to do with her head. My upper back is going to be REALLY strong from riding her!

Yesterday was also a spa day for Polly. Like many drafts, she has issues with scratches on her white feet, and the feathers do not help with keeping her skin free of mud and moisture. So I bought myself some Andis 2-speed clippers as a belated birthday present to myself, and committed draft horse heresy. The feathers are no more.



It took me a while to figure out how to make it look neat, but she was an angel for clipping and practically fell asleep. Aesthetically I think she looks much better with feathers, but it's impossible to find where the scratches are with all that hair. With spring rain and mud ahead, I'd rather get a jump on it before it gets too bad.

Poor girl. I don't think anyone was really managing her skin so her pasterns are like...lumpy. It's really weird. But I'm cleaning with Betadine, drying, then rubbing on Desitin to keep the moisture out of her lumps and bumps.

In other news, it is currently snowing in MD and it's the middle of March. WHY?


  1. AAHH! I hope you asked the owner. :-) In all seriousness, I know scratches is a big deal with feathered breeds and thankfully (miraculously?) I have not yet had to deal with it. I think Connor's breeder might kill me. My trainer recently took the feathers off her Perch/TB when she body-clipped him, and I honestly like it - he looks really sporty now. I think Polly will end up looking the same, and of course be much happier with healthy pasterns!

  2. Ha, yes, it was all cleared by the owner. Hoping by fall foxhunting her legs will be clean and healthy.

  3. So I was looking for an email for you and probably gave up too soon, but felt the need to address your comment. I feel like you are sensationalizing what I wrote and did. I could delete your comment but I will leave it up. Any cut in the mouth tends to bleed rather quickly, whether it is a small bite or a significant gash (or say if he lost half his tongue). This is due to a lot of blood vessels being near the surface in the mouth (animal or human). He wasn't gushing blood, but there was evidence that he had recently bled (while I was lunging him) I noticed it when I reeled him in and promptly brought him in the barn to assess. There wasn't a lot of foam nor was it bright red. It was pinkish at the corner of his mouth and on his lip where normal saliva collection happens. I do feed carrots as a part of stretching before riding so that could have added to the discoloration. After taking some time to palpitate his mouth and let him chew on a sponge and cleaning down his lips I checked for more obvious signs of a wound, I found nothing of significance. Within 10 minutes a small cut in the mouth can coagulate, so I got on and continued to assess him as we walked around the arena, working on bending and not taking up contact with his face for the first 15-20mins. As my ride progressed I made sure to keep my contact light and to check in with him frequently.The point of the ride was to keep him relaxed and forward, something he was not when I was lunging him. Afterwards I evaluated again and he was fine. I doubt you will come back and read my reply but here it stands. I don't think my actions were insane, I felt I did my due diligence to make sure he had a positive experience yesterday even though he started off extremely agitated. But, you are entitled to your opinion and you are more then welcome to unsubscribe.