Did you ever notice how movies never show horses pooping? In fact the movies do not do a good job at all of depicting actual horse ownership. Most TV shows and movies make it seem like all you do is saddle up and go. Honestly, this is all fine and dandy if you are never going to be around horses, but does become a problem if you start spending time around horses.
I had a boyfriend in my early twenties that grew up watching a lot of Bonanza. He was pretty much a city kid, but became enamored with the Ranch. In fact, after he spent some time on the Ranch he asked us to start calling him Rowdy. Since “Rowdy” was spending so much time on the Ranch, my Parents had a belt made for him, with R-o-w-d-y stamped on the back. Rowdy found one of my Dad’s old belt buckles and an old pair of cowboy boots, and that was it, Rowdy was a cowboy, in his mind at least.
Now Rowdy figured he looked like a cowboy, but he still didn’t have or know how to ride a horse. I started giving him lessons and we would go for little walking pleasure rides around the Ranch. Finally Rowdy felt like he was ready to “check cows” by himself. Since we had been riding almost every day for a couple of months, in pretty much the same place, I felt like Rowdy could probably handle a short walking ride by himself.
I helped Rowdy saddle up my horse, Joe. Joe is the type of horse little girls dream about – he’s a golden palomino with a paint’s face. The type of horse that makes you feel like a cowboy. Rowdy and Joe walked off into the sunset and I went back to my chores. The Ranch is set up in such a way that you can see a good portion of it from the house. And unless you got in trouble a lot as a little girl for racing your horses, you would not realize this. As I spied on Rowdy and Joe on the mountain, I got scared.
Rowdy caught ‘city boy cowboy fever’ and had removed his shirt and was running Joe as fast as he could go, up and down the mountain (think The Man From Snowy River). Despite what you see on TV, cattlepeople rarely run our horses down mountains, we rarely full out run our horses, unless we are chasing cattle. It can be very hard on your horse to run down mountains, it’s a good way to hurt yourself and your horse.
I had to run to the barn, jump on an 4 wheeler and track down Joe and Rowdy to keep Rowdy from killing my horse. Needless to say Rowdy lost his horse privileges after that. Rowdy’s only explanation was, despite months of lessons, that is how the cowboy’s on TV do it. Sigh.
This story brings up two very good points. One, I’m not allowed to give horseback lessons to my boyfriends. Two, often people think what they see on TV is true.
Therefore I wanted to talk about something today that you never see on TV. Cleaning a horse’s hoof. This is a basic requirement of horse care. I was taught to clean out my horses hooves before and after every ride. If you don’t do this your horse can become lame. Rocks, mud and even nails can become stuck under their hooves, leading to infection and lameness.
Our horses are retired now. They go “barefoot” (that means we don’t have a farrier come out and put metal shoes on them), but they still get their hooves trimmed (it’s the same as trimming your nails) a couple times of year. I try and clean out their hooves as often as I can to keep them happy and healthy.
This is a bare horse hoof (it needs a trim).
This is a hoof-pick. I use this tool to clean out the horses hooves.
A dirty hoof! Compacted with mud, rocks, and organic material.
Cleaning all the nasty out of his hoof. This will smell if you don’t do it often. It’s very important that your horse has healthy feet and legs!
That has to feel good! A cleaned out hoof! He’s having his “nails did” this week, so his hooves will look a lot better soon.