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[RC] Hoof Handling at Rides - Newbie Advice - Sharon Hahn

In answer to Kelly's questions:

1. Can someone please tell me what to expect with my horse being handled by the vet, etc..  2. Will it be a requirement to pick up all four of my
horses feet if there are no signs of something wrong?

I'm sure vets in the different regions do things differently, but here in MN for COMPETITIVE (not sure this all applies to endurance) your horse will be expected to:  trot out in hand, both straight and in a circle, have its gums pressed (no biting!) and skin tent test for dehydration check, stand quietly to have its pulse and respiration taken with a stethoscope, have all four legs felt (they generally don't pick up the feet, but your horse needs to be able to tolerate the vet running his/her hands down its lower legs), have its back and shoulders palpated.  Practice at home with friends being the "vet."  If your horse wants to kick or bite the vet, don't show up until you've practiced more - we depend heavily on vets and don't want them to get hurt or not want to come back!

3. I understand the contiversey between shoes and barefoot and I do not want to get into a debate about
which is better. Can I please get some brief details about the pros and cons to shoes and barefoot.
4. With shoes, is it best to have them on all four feet or will the front two be ok?

My mare has over 1200 competitive miles, all barefoot or with Easyboots only.  I only started using the Easyboots after the 2nd season.  However, Cameo has unusually awesome feet and can tolerate this.  You obviously don't want your horse to go lame, but IF your horse usually goes barefoot and has proven she can do it on your training rides (i.e. no soreness, extreme wear or hoof cracking), I see no reason to shoe her.  Make sure you understand the type of footing you'll encounter on the ride (call the ride manager).  A grassy or sandy trail is much different from a gravel road or a mountain trail!  Of course, if your horse acts like she needs extra protection, you'll have to shoe her.  You will want a regular hoof care schedule regardless- I am religious about having the farrier out every 6 weeks for trims.  I really like the Easyboots (I train barefoot and use the boots for extra protection on the rides only), b ut if your horse doesn't like her feet handled, you probably wouldn't want to mess with putting them on and taking them off.

5. I am excited about attending my first ride and I will be volunteering this Oct 23rd at a ride. My
question is, when I feel my mare is ready, what type of ride should I go to first. A more training ride at
15 miles or a normal 25 LD?

You will learn SO much by volunteering - great idea. It should help you know if your horse is ready for the vet check, too.  I would go for the training ride as your first ride, but you could try the 25 as long as you are prepared to go slow.  It depends on how much you've trained, and also what the weather is.  I wouldn't recommend trying a 25 for your first ride in 90 degree heat or pouring rain, for example.

Have fun and good luck with your first ride!


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