Monday, January 17, 2011

an evening with many hooves

Yesterday afternoon I felt well enough to tackle the ongoing chore of hoof care for the herd here on November Hill. We've had many weeks of wet ground and almost as many weeks of sick humans, so after their trims on Friday I was determined to get back in the swing of things.

It was time for Salina's lunch so I got her tub ready first and went to let her in. She was, as usual, waiting by the gate, accompanied by Keil Bay, who is determined that at 21 years of age, he, too, should be brought in for a mid-day meal. Because he was covered in dried mud and clearly needed some attention, I let him in with Salina.

He followed me around like a big puppy, doing his best to look hungry. Salina wisely went into her stall and waited for her tub.

Can you guess how this turned out?

Keil Bay didn't actually get a full meal, but I couldn't resist a small meal of soaked timothy cubes in the barn aisle while I picked his feet. He was about as happy as he could be.

After the two seniors got their meals I realized the paddock needed mucking, so I sidetracked onto that and ended up letting everyone into the big barnyard while I worked.

By this time it was nearing sunset and I had not yet started the hoof cleaning I came out to do!

But it needed to be done, so I set up a "station" in the barn aisle with a tub of soaked timothy cubes inside the wheelbarrow, a hay net to the side of that, my cleaning materials, and brought in Cody so I could get to work.

I've done this in different places and different ways, but I really liked the way it turned out yesterday. I had a big jug of clean water, a flat pan to put the hoof in, my hoof pick, scrub brush and cleaning materials, and my little bottle of oil of oregano in my pocket. We have lots of red clay here, and without a thorough cleaning of the hooves, it's hard to see what the bottom of the hoof really looks like underneath. So I scrubbed and rinsed and treated as necessary with the oil of oregano.

One hoof at a time. Times 6 equines. Equals 24 hooves.

As I finished each horse, I put them into their clean stall with hay for their evening stall time. Fortunately my husband came out and helped - otherwise I might still be out there working!

But what I found, again, is that there is a rhythm to almost all chores, and if we take the time to set up properly, and then look for the rhythm, the chore progresses more easily and with some pleasure.

Yesterday the barn was clean and quiet and DRY, and for the most part the equines were content to have a little meal while getting their feet cleaned up.

I think I hit a little bit of a zen moment as I studied each clean hoof. They began to look like artwork - varying colors and shapes and individual characteristics. A sharp contrast to how they look day to day, the color of the earth they walk on.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I think you've established a good rhythm and organizational skills for this particular chore.Glad you got a little help or might still be there today! I'm also happy to hear you're feeling better, there's nothing worse than feeling miserable and still having to take care of everyone.

ponymaid said...

Billie, twenty four is a lot of feet. You are to be commended for keeping them all in fine form. Our feet have been frozen solid since November - I'm surprised they don't just shatter and fall off. It was -25 C here today which is just unspeakable.

Rising Rainbow said...

I'll be they all appreciated the extra attention too. It doesn't take much for a horse to feel appreciative. They are such gracious creatures.

Glad you were feeling well enough to tackle this job. 24 hooves is a lot of work, especially to the back.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Hi Billie-

If you're not to tired after tending to 24 feet, stop by my blog for an award!

billie said...

Arlene, getting better day by day. It's nothing short of amazing to me that when we get sick here, we tend to do it in "shifts" because someone HAS to be well enough to carry on at the barn.

billie said...

Sheaffer, right now I have 8 little donkey feet that are needing daily treatment - not sure why they are struggling with the thrush beasties - but the ground has been wet for nearly two months now and with us sick, daily care declined at the worst possible time.

You know those automated car washes? I have a fantasy about an automated hoof wash, where the equines line up and roll through, holding one hoof up at a time while being fed something yummy and healthy.

Only problem: I'd have to issue them each one token a day or they'd be rolling through it continuously to get the yummy part. :)

billie said...

MiKael, def. feeling better. I think my sheer willfulness is what got me (and my husband) through it. I only did one set of 4 last night, as I had Proust group, and he did all the rest by himself! A husband who will clean hooves - what a good man. :)

billie said...

C, thank you! I'm not sure I can come up with 15 blogs that I have not already received this award, but I will try to do the 7 things part later in the week.

Victoria Cummings said...

Billie - I try to do the eight hooves under my care each night while they eat dinner, so I appreciate the time you spend doing the extra four sets of feet. What does the oil of oregano do? Now that Silk and Siete have their winter shoes on their front feet, with snow pads covering the bottom of the foot, my cleaning has become much easier and faster. And with this ice and rain we're getting, I'm so glad that they have the extra protection and the cleats on their shoes. How many days until Spring???

billie said...

I mix the pure oil of oregano with plain olive oil to cut it a little - the oil of oregano is very potent and might sting if applied alone. It's an antifungal/antibacterial herb, and can help with thrush/yeast.

I hope not that many days 'til spring!

I can't complain yesterday and today and tomorrow - although we got rain Monday night, yesterday was 50 degrees and the sun even came out in the afternoon. Right now it's still slightly cloudy but we are looking at 60 for today and 52 for tomorrow. If it will just dry out now - it is still very muddy and it's the wet more than the cold that I am so tired of!