Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Region 4 Championships......Rhet's Big Day Part 2

After the issues with the clippers I didn't know what to expect from the Arabian colt when it came to sanding his feet. Usually the horse stood fine for the farrier to do his work.......well, except for one time when he was an absolute nut.

But sanding and trimming are definitely different things. Some horses really don't like that kind of pressure applied to their hooves. I decided given Rhet's history that hand sanding would probably be the safest approach. I can only imagine what he'd think of my noisy palm sander when he couldn't even tolerate the clipper noise. Was he going to be bothered by the process fighting each step of the way?

I'm pretty picky about the way I think hooves should be done. Particularly for halter classes, they need to look like glass. I learned many years ago the easiest way to attain that look was by using different grades of sandpaper.
Starting off with a coarse paper to get most of the ridges off has always saved me lots of time. Then changing to a medium paper to get rid of the rest of the grooves and such. Once that's done a very fine paper (for me a 400 wet/dry) smooths the whole thing out. The final phase is going over the hooves again with a fine steel wool. Once that's finished, I like to coat the hoof with a clear wax shoe polish, then buff. This helps keep the hoof clean until I'm ready to apply polish.

The scariest part of sanding hooves is having to be right there down on the ground. If a horse is not good, their dancing around can cause a groom to get hurt. Babies in particular can be fine one minute and totally freaked the next. This makes this particular job my least favorite in the grooming process. It doesn't help any that my body is old and really hates being that kind of bent......

I figured it would be best for me to be the one on the ground. I really doubted that Rhet would trust Jessica enough to do anything with his feet. Relinquishing control of what happens to their feet is really such a huge survival issue to a horse, trust, trust and more trust is what it takes to be messing with horses' feet.

So Jessica held Rhet on the road that runs right out in front of the barns. The blacktop surface made a good choice for cleaning up Rhet's hooves. The colt actually stood quietly most of the time. It was mostly when traffic of one kind or another passed that he showed any signs of discomfort. The rest of the time he more or less picked at Jessica because he was bored standing still for so long.

The colt can get a bit nippy........honestly........more than a bit. He's definitely got loose lips but it's mostly about playing. The horse thinks standing close to him for more than a second or two is an invitation to pull at clothes and sometimes even hair. Jessica exercised great restraint in not killing him before I had time to get clear. Rhet didn't get away with anything and I still managed to stay safe.

The actual process of sanding his feet went about as smoothly as it had gone with Legs. After his shenanigans getting clipped I was greatly relieved. Not that my body didn't ache crawling down amongst his legs. By the time I was finished I had a difficult time getting to my feet. Before moving onto the bath, I had to take a break and give myself time to adjust to an upright position. Getting old really sucks............

When it came to his bath, Rhet got mixed reviews. The colt was not fond of the cold water and he did a bit of dancing. I ended up holding him to keep him under control while Jessica applied the soap and water.

One thing about Rhet..........he's not stupid. It didn't take him long to figure out that the scrubbing part was pretty darn cool. The colt stretched out his neck and his lower lip began to quiver as Jessica ran the scrubby bath mitt all over his body. For that part, the cold stood as still as a statue.

However, rinsing off all those suds was another matter. The trolls jumped right up out of the puddles of suds and bit at the colt's toes. Rhet was sure he was going to die and tried to bolt. Fortunately I've experienced lots of horses with phobias over bubbles. I was ready for these antics and Rhet didn't get far. It didn't take him long to realize standing in puddles wasn't all that bad.

The really bad part was washing his face. Again, the colt wigged out just like he had in the stall. Jessica and I swapped places. She grabbed the end of his nose while I washed his face. Of course, he stretched his head as high to the sky as possible trying to escape but at least he was no longer running from side to side.

Then there's some form of Murphy's Law that dictates always getting too much soap on the face of a horse that hates being rinsed. That's certainly what happened with Rhet. Trying to rinse out all those suds seemed to take forever. At one point his poor eyes rolled back as he tried blinking out the suds. It just wasn't pretty............but we finally got it done. All we had left was drying time..................before the final grooming for the ring.

To be continued.......................

Part 3

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  1. Somewhere, back in the early show days I learned the trick about the steel's like magic, they look like they're wearing patten leather shoes. I always like learning new tricks tho...I like the idea of the shoe wax, I bet that works SLICK!!!
    I'm so glad to hear that Rhet stood still for working on his feet. That can be scary while the horse is dancing!
    Jessica sounds like a Godsend!!! Does she ever get to show! I'm sure that she has learned her skills somewhere!

  2. Rhett is being a great horse trying to adjust to our human definition of what we think they should be, not what they ARE. Horses.