The chronicles of a Friesian mare who happened upon an owner who lives outside the show ring....

Monday, August 26, 2013


I think it's safe to say that Daatje thinks she's superwoman with these shoes on all four hooves.  :)  The hunt at Rest and Be Thankful Farm last Saturday was outstanding!  I had more horse under me than ever before.  She had power like never before, traction like never before.  And best of all, the shoes stayed on tight through everything!

Saddled and ready
The hunt was just under 8  miles and covered some of the most beautiful farmland and woodlands to be found in southern Maine.
Hacking down the gravel drive
At stirrup cup
Cooling off after the hunt.
I think it's safe to form an opinion about the shoes.  They are everything I had hoped they'd be, offering the right kind of protection, simple to apply, stay put......the last judgement will come with how long they wear and the next setting will determine that.  We're on week 4.  A couple more weeks and I'll pull them to trim and reset.  I plan on taking photos of the shoes after 12 weeks side by side with a brand new set, to give an indication of how they wear over a 12 week period.

The next hunt for us is August 31st all the way up north in Tamworth, NH.  Full of scenic vistas at the foot of the White Mountains, Red Horse Hill Farm is usually well worth the trip!  Here's to more fabulous hunting weather.....

Thursday, August 22, 2013


So the other day I stopped at home depot to pick up some washers to place under the nail heads of the rear most nails on her front shoes.  If you recall, during the hunter pace on the 17th of August one of the rear nails on her left front shoe pulled through the polyurethane when it was stepped on by the hind in deep footing.

The manufacturer recommends 8mm washers bent in half like a taco, but when I got to the store and saw how big the 8mm washers really were, I couldn't imagine the nail heads not slipping through them, even if they were bent.  I opted to go for the 5mm washers and not bend them.  I'm using Delta Combo 5 City Head Slims and the 5mm washers were a perfect fit.  I had to dremmel out the nail channel in the shoes to accomodate Daatje's white line so the 5mm fit fine flat.

Pulling out the exsisting nails was not easy.  They were quite secure!  That made me feel pretty good about the shoes staying power.  If they're that hard to get off on purpose, they won't be too easy to pull off by accident.

So, I re-installed the rear nails using the same holes and set the washers under the nail heads.  The alteration looked something like this.

New rear nail with 5mm washer.  Right front.

New rear nails with washers, left front.
 She's been stomping around on this set of Ground Control Shoes for nearly 3 weeks now.  They are showing appropriate wear for being under an 1100 lb horse who's in work, I think.  Still plenty of thickness.  I plan on resetting them at 6 weeks and hope to get a full 12 weeks out of them before replacing them with a new set.

We should be well prepared for the hunt in Lyman, ME on Saturday.  The weather is supposed to be fantastic.  I'm really looking forward to it!  Will of course, be back with a hunt report/photos. :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pony Car

Up until last Saturday, my husband and I have been a 2 car household.  He works close to home, and for gas $$ sake, takes my truck to work.  I take our little 2008 Cobalt (my commute is 60 miles a day).  My truck isn't getting any younger.  It's a 2001 model Silverado with 119K miles on it.  I really want to preserve it for towing the horse trailer and de-commision it as a daily driver back and forth to work so it'll last a little longer.  (buying a new truck would be so expensive!)

So, I started searching for a third vehicle to use as a commuter car.  Last week, I found a nice used 1998 Ford Mustang GT with 90K miles on it, one owner, Texas car.  My husband doesn't really care what he drives (not into cars at all) and has zero interest in driving a standard transmission, so he's taking over the Cobalt as his commuter vehicle and I get to drive the Mustang GT!!! :D  Whoo-hoo!

Fun times, fun times.  Without further ado.......the Pony Car. :)
My "new to me" Mustang GT

Hunter Pace Weekend

Last Saturday we attended the Conservation Benefit Hunter Pace hosted by my hunt club.  Part of the proceeds are donated to a local land conservancy, which is awesome, and the rest is used to take care of our pack of hounds, which is essential! :)

Perfect weather, great turnout and a fun course through the woods and fields surrounding the Stingy River in Raymond, NH made for an incredibly awesome weekend.

At Stirrup Cup

Look at all the trailers!  We're the bright red truck in the middle of the photo.

On the trail by the river.
So this was another real test of the Ground Control Shoes, on all four hooves this time.  Putting them on her hinds was a smart move.  The difference in her pushing power (most notibly at the canter) is outta control.  Definitely makes her job easier and therefore more enjoyable for both of us. 

The footing in the fields was boggy.  I was concerned about the rear most nails on the front shoes.  If she stepped on the front shoe with her hind foot, it was likely the nail(s) could pull through the polyurethane shoe.  (the manufacturer recommends using 8mm washers, bent like a taco, on the rear most nails on the front shoes to prevent this from happening)

Sure enough, upon inspection when we returned, the rear most nail on the outside of the left front shoe had been pulled through the shoe.  The nail was still neatly in her hoof.  I brought my shoeing kit and was easily able to remove the offending nail and replace it with another for the time being.  I did not have any 8mm washers, but before the foxhunt on this Saturday, 8/24, I will be sure to pull out the rear most nails in the fronts and replace them with ones set through the washers.

Aside from that little hiccup, (which would have been a non-issue if I had used washers as recommended) the shoes, the protection they offer her, and how she moves in them, are stellar.  We are starting our 3rd week on the fronts and I still have nothing but good things to say. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Like a different horse

I liked the way Daatje responded to the Ground Control shoes up front, so I ordered some for her hinds to see if that would help her out even more.  (That last 12 mile ride at Bradley Palmer really beat the crap out of her hinds, while her fronts stayed in perfect form protected by the shoes.)

So, last night she got the hinds put on.  There was not time to repair the quarter chips with Adhere, but I do plan on filling them in for appearance sake, if nothing else.  (although it would help prevent the exposed edge of the shoe from getting caught on a rock or root)

I have to work late today, so I rode her this morning to see how she felt.  "Like a different horse" would be a good way to put it!  Let's go back a little to the reason why I wanted to try these shoes on her in the first place.  The past month of riding has been a struggle.  Daatje was reluctant to move out and wanted to quit at every step.  I was attributing it to her being out of shape from the heat-induced hiatus we took from training, or perhaps low "E" as I had stopped supplementing for vitamin E over a year ago.....but then, on one of our rides in late July I started to feel a head bob pointing to the right front.

Uh-oh.  I lunged her so I could see it.  Sure enough, definite head bob (right front) and tightness in the shoulder and neck muscles.  I booted her up with her Epics and pads and brought her back out on the lunge again.  Head bob gone and muscle tension reduced.  Hmm.  For a multitude of possible reasons, she was not comfortable working barefoot (she hunted last season barefoot and totally comfortable).  Not the best place to be just a few weeks before the hunt season starts!

I looked into a bunch of different plastic horseshoes on the market and selected the Ground Control Shoes for their traction, ease of application and price point (and the fact that they were one of the two that are manufactured in her size!) 

Now that she has them all the way around, the difference in her willingess to move and relaxation through her body have improved dramatically.  This morning she was loose, relaxed, stretching.  Her lateral work was fluid and smooth.  I could almost feel her say "ahhhhhh".

I'm truly impressed and so happy that my horse is comfortable.  She's ready to roll for the hunter pace on the 17th and our first hunt of the season on the 24th!  Nice. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Bradley Palmer

My friend just posted some photos she took of us on our ride at Bradley Palmer yesterday, so I wanted to add them here, seeing as we hardly ever get photos taken of us! :) 

Coming down off the big hill, pasture on my right, corn field on my left.

Hello there spotted horse.

Last leg of the 12 mile ride.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bradley Palmer - 12 miles, 2 1/2 hours, and the shoes......

........were amazing! 

I hauled Daatje an hour down to Topsfield, MA to meet one of my friends from the hunt.  My friend has Morgans, so I knew we were in for a nice fast ride!  Bradley is such a beautiful place to ride and on such a beautiful day as this, there were loads of people there, biking, walking, dogs, fellow horseback riders...

We covered 12 miles (most of it at a trot and canter) in 2 hours a 30 minutes.  The Ground Control shoes were fabulous.  Traction on *all* surfaces was killer.  Mud, wet grass, rocky slides, no slipping at all on any of it.  We even jumped a bunch of the fences and they stayed put, clinches tight.  Horse felt simply amazing.  Lofty, free, no tension in her shoulder muscles.  Foot perfect.

So, one full week has gone by in these shoes and I've put a couple of good hard rides on them on mixed terrain and they are really holding up to their reputation.  I'm still extremely pleased and have ordered a second pair to see if Daatje likes them on her hinds as well.

My friend and her spicy Morgan mare
Taking a rest between directions, cantering around Moon Hill
This is Myopia Hunt territory.
Cornfields beside us
Horses in the pasture next to us cantered over to say "hello"

She worked really hard today, so I'm going to give her tomorrow off, and we'll go for a nice quiet hack on Tuesday, with a dressage school on Thursday and then it will be the Hunter Pace in Raymond, NH on Saturday!  So happy to finally be out and about with fun things to do! :D

Friday, August 9, 2013

Holy mutha f'in deerflies!

Since foxhunting starts for us in a few weeks, I figured it'd be best to test out the new polyurethane shoes on my trails before we found ourselves in the middle of a foxhunt with a shoe failure.  So Wednesday after work, I ran home, quickly tacked up the mare and embarked on the 1/2 mile hack down the street to the trail head.  It had been cool, so I was hopeful the bugs would be tolerable and heck, if not we could always just trot on, right?

OMG, we made it to the trail just fine, but no more than 30 feet into the woods we were swarmed by deer flies.  Awful, horrible, hateful, nasty things.  Daatje was ok with them as long as I kept swatting them away with my dingbat whacker so we continued on for 3.7 miles.  (most at a strong trot)

The whole ride was a blur of branches, rocks, hills, and the whacker popping my horse on the head, ears and neck to keep the blood sucking horrors away.  I was keeping an ear out for a shoe problem, and a feel for her gaits to detect any abnormalities, but none popped up.  She actually felt fantastic.

Traction was equal to bare, even over rocks, roots and mud, which was encouraging.  The brook we had to cross has a rocky bottom that she doesn't like the feel of.  In the Ground Control shoes, she waded in and stopped, noticing the difference; seemingly pleased with it.

We got back just before the sun set and I inspected the shoes.  Clinches were tight, shoes didn't budge and no stones or debris was caught underneath.

A very positive test result!  This Sunday, we're trailering down to Bradley Palmer in Ipswich, MA to go for a nice long ride so that will be the next opportunity to test the shoes.  Perhaps over some natural jumps........

Monday, August 5, 2013

Daatje's new kicks

I've always been a believer that horses should be barefoot as long as they are able to comfortably meet the demands that life (and their people) put on them.  Daatje has been barefoot most of her life as I've only had her shod when I felt she needed to be.  She wore steel shoes in front from the spring of 2007 to the fall of 2007 and then again for the 2009 and 2010 foxhunting seasons (very wet years).  The drier 2011 and 2012 seasons were hunted barefoot, but this year, things are yet again very wet.  Combined with a change in diet (she's at my house now, out on grass, as opposed to the dirt lot at my parent's house) her hooves don't have the integrity that they've had in the past.

Just from the low level of activity during turnout, her fronts have been chipping out the quarters faster than they can grow in.  (I haven't been riding much for the past two months, due to the insane heat and humidity we've dealt with) If the hooves can't hold up to farting around in her paddock, certainly they won't be comfortable once we start hunting over the rocky New England trails! 

I wanted to try an alternative shoe (to steel or aluminum) as we do hack alot on pavement and I liked the idea of having full frog support, especially on a horse with a basically good foot that is used to going barefoot.

After reviewing the top three plastic shoes on the market, (Easywalkers didn't come large enough, Eponas had mixed reviews on the durability and traction and were more expensive) I decided to go with the Ground Control shoes in clear.

After having the shoes applied over a pack of Magic Cushion and the missing chunks of hoof filled in with Vettec Adhere, Daatje was immediately more comfortable.

Solar view of the Ground Control Shoes
Heel view
New kicks......
That evening I tacked her up and went for a 2.5 mile hack walk/trot/canter and she was floating on air.  Big trot, powerful canter with traction that was equal to bare hooves on pavement, gravel and turf.   

So far, I am very please with the Ground Control urethane horseshoes!  Hunt season starts August 14th (for us the following Saturday because I work M-F) and we have a hunter pace on August 17th, so hopefully she'll continue to move well in them and they'll provide her the protection she needs for the work I'm asking her to do. :)