And blowing things completely out of proportion.
Ashke's feet aren't too long, they are too short. He has worn down the toe on his right front to the point where it is tender on rocks. That combined with the moisture (seven weeks in a row we had snow on either Tues or Weds every week - some weeks we had snow on both days) have created hooves that are sensitive. Not soft though.
Michelle said he looked tender on the rocks and when she started on his front hooves she said he had worn down the part of his hoof that is between the cannon bone and the ground. She said his feet were still pretty hard and they looked good, but she recommended I get boots for riding him out on. Especially for long rides or over rocky ground.
I trotted him out for her and then worked him in a circle. He was favoring the right front just a little bit. Michelle said that foot was the shortest. If I wasn't going the barefoot route, we probably would have put shoes on him. Instead, she fitted him with boots.
There were three boots that we looked at:
The Easyboot Glove
The Easyboot Trail
and the Easyboot Backcountry.
The Backcountry is the Glove bottom, with the trail top. I like how it velcros on and completely covers the pastern. It acts as both boot and bell, which is good considering how much prickly pear we have growing low to the ground. The glove is my second favorite, but Michelle said I had to be careful not to pull the velcro straps off when I was fastening them on.
Ashke was like a cat on a hot tin roof. He had very exaggerated movement of all four feet and if he could have picked them up and shaken them like a cat does when they get their paws wet, he would have. It only took him a few minutes, however, to adjust to the feel and when I lunged him at both trot and canter, he wasn't tender at all (which just proves Michelle's assessment).
Michelle does competitive trail riding and she has a pair of gloves she's used for at least two years before the top separated from the boot. I figure if we were doing shoes it would cost me $150 every eight weeks. That's at least $450 for the summer and it's not as good for his hooves or his balance. The Backcountry cost me $300 from Valley Vet and hopefully will last for at least a couple of years. I won't use them in the arena, just out on the trail.
I know he will enjoy riding in them, because he had already figured out his feet weren't sensitive on the rocks when he had them on. He didn't protest when we switched the style of boot from one foot to the other (Michelle was checking fit) and Michelle made me take off and put on and take off all three styles. She assured me she had never had a horse have an issue with wearing boots (rubs or issues) provided the glove fit his hoof, which they did. She did say I might need to get a file and shape the outside of his front hooves as they grown out. They have a tendency to flare on the sides with a short toe. She laughingly calls them Arabian hooves, which is good, because that's what he is. When we get to the end of our trim cycle, I may need to do some shaping in order for the boots to go on.
For the record, his front are 0.5 Wide and the backs are 1.
I asked Michelle if I should not ride until I got the boots and she laughed and said he really wasn't that tender. I should avoid the Mesa until I got the boots, but other than that, I should have fun. As our weather moves toward warm and dry his feet should toughen up. She said he has a nice callous on his sole, so it shouldn't take much. We all agreed he was a bit of a princess.
I told her that he was really only tentative at the trot. She laughed and said she used to work with a trimmer who, when told that same information, replied "you should just canter then." Since Ashke would much rather canter than trot, I'm sure he would be onboard with this philosophy.
For a horse that completely wigged out when I tried to put wraps on his hind legs (and J had to be brave and unvelcro them off while I held the freaked out animal) he did really awesome with them yesterday.
I placed the order this morning. They should arrive at work on Tuesday. If so, I will boot him and ride him out Tuesday night on the edges of the Mesa to see how they work.