So here we go again. I had forgotten just how anxiety-making this process is. It does not help that I am only getting to know Cloud.
I had hoped that the pony we found would be unshod – common enough for ponies here. But Cloud was shod on his two front feet. His hooves were far too long and the riding school owner offered to have him shod again before we collected him. Coincidentally her farrier was the farrier we are now using – he is from Belgium and understands barefoot trims which is a huge relief. It is great to have a reliable professional eye cast on how the hooves are balanced. So I asked that he take off Cloud’s shoes and give his feet a barefoot trim. We were on holidays when he came so I could not talk to him about how he found Cloud’s hooves.
Cloud is tender in both front feet, more so on his left. He is sound on smooth ground but not on gravel and he really does not like his hooves picked out. This has resulted in him planting his hoof, and if it is lifted, starting a pawing motion. This is where I do not know how much of this he would be doing anyway. We were told – and saw – that he has a habit of striking out with his front legs ‘like a stallion’ and were advised that he should be tied up when being groomed. He does respond to a firm ‘no’ and I would suspect that, as a riding school pony, boundaries were inconsistent.
But I need to pick up his hoof and he has not wanted to. So I resorted to introducing clicker. I started with targeting over the stable door. He became very excited with the treats and my whole hand practically disappeared into his mouth. So for the next session I put Cloud in the stable and did clicker with Ben in the yard. I had the treats in a bucket behind the fence. I did targeting with Ben and then clicked for lifting up his hoof. Cloud did not take his eyes off us. When Cloud came out he had got the concept. Over another couple of sessions he learned manners around treats – very quickly – and I could start to click for lifting his hoof. I rewarded him for relaxing his hoof in my hand, not tensing it to strike – quite the opposite of Ben who loves to lean his entire weight into my hand so I am always looking for him to hold his hoof up.
So it has made the task easier, but poor Cloud still does not like his hoof being picked out. I am sure there is bad thrush there. I have ordered some Field Paste from Red Horse Supplies and in the meantime I pick it out (snatch), scrub it with milton (snatch) and then put anti-thrush ointment in (no snatch) and pack the grooves and central sulcus with sudocreme and cotton wool.
And I watch his steps anxiously and I really understand how people give up on transitioning, and I tell my daughter that we have to focus on Cloud transitioning well rather than getting him fit right now.