Monday, January 31, 2011
Horses, especially those wearing shoes, tend to get snow packed up into their hooves in the winter. These ice balls can be uncomfortable and dangerous--it's kind of like the horse is walking on hard, lumpy baseballs--so you have to stop frequently and chip them out.
The first time I took old Midnight out in the snow and he got ice balls on his feet, it took me quite a while to figure out what was wrong--why was he fighting me and stumbling on flat ground? I hopped off and saw that three of his four hooves were off the ground by a couple of inches. The packed ice was so hard that a stick wouldn't budge it. Instead, I had to search for a pointed rock and bash the ice out. You can imagine how much Midnight enjoyed that!
The tool of choice is a hoof pick, and most of us (including me, now) carry them in our pockets when we're on the trails. Saturday I thought about taking one, but decided there wasn't enough snow left to be a problem.
All was fine until we turned off the main trail and onto one that leads through a flat, open stretch between patches of trees. The sun doesn't reach that part of the path, and yes, it was still snow-covered and perfect for forming ice balls under a horse's hooves.
I started cussing myself out for not bringing the proper tool, and began to look for a suitable rock. But wait--what's that? Oh my goodness: a blue hoof pick, right there next to the trail, within easy reach.
I just stood there with my mouth open for a bit, thanked the Guides, or Providence, or Whoever placed it there for me, then picked it up and chipped the ice out of Midnight's hooves.
Yup. Life's a funny place.
[Cross-posted on The Alchemical Horse.]