Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The devil Saga wears Prada – and (almost) jousts!

Ok, just to clear up a few things: Saga is not the devil, and he’s not actually wearing Prada shoes. However, a pair of Pradas cost about the same as what I’m paying for the special vet farrier to shoe him. Of course, I’d probably buy a new pair of Ariat tall boots with that money instead of Pradas, but I digress.

Saga got front shoes put on last Thursday. Just plain, normal shoes, fronts only. His feet look pretty good, without having been rasped like crazy. And you know what? He’s 100% comfortable and happy with front shoes. He moves freely and strides out. He is comfortable in the pasture, comfortable under saddle. He’s alert and perky and interactive, instead of being sullen and in pain.

As much as I hate to say it, shoes seem to be the right thing for him. 

I’m not sure when exactly I became such a barefoot advocate, but I can’t say I’m terribly happy about him having to wear shoes. Probably it upsets me because it means there’s something I’m not doing right with his feed that is causing him to continue to have thin soles. I’m still arranging for a private nutritional consultation, but even if I get everything perfect, it will be the better part of a year before he’s got enough sole to be comfortable without shoes. At this point, I’m planning to leave the shoes on until he’s got thick enough soles to give barefoot another go. If that time is never despite everyone’s best efforts, then OK. At this point, I’m doing Saga a disservice by not having shoes on him. Such is life.

This Sunday, we took Red and Saga to a jousting practice about 1.5 hours away. It was a super windy day, with a massive storm system blowing in. As an extra bonus, there was a train track on one side of the pasture where we were riding. The train scared me more than it bothered Saga and Red, haha! Unfortunately, Saga had apparently completely forgotten all about armor, and had a couple of OMGWTF!!! moments when riders in armor went by. I rode him for about an hour with no armor, and we chased people wearing armor, watched others joust, and practiced going up and down the lane.  He gave me good, strong, balanced gaits in both directions out in the field, and did a great job standing at the entrance to the jousting lyst and stopping at the end. Unfortunately, the actual lyst was a single rope with no counter-lane, and he did a lot of crazy lateral stuff lovely half-passes going down the lane. Definitely not ideal, but he got straighter (and stopped looking at other riders in armor) as time went on. 

The hubby took Reddums and jousted on him. Reddums was, of course, the star attack jousting pony. As usual, he got antsy waiting for the run, and was a little crooked down the lane. However, we had an experienced show jouster there who suggested that the hubby push his rein forward going down the lane, and really let Red go. Red ran straight and true after that, so it was an excellent learning experience for everyone. 

The hubby also learned that he needs to work on targeting and shield presentation. His shield tends to hang a little to the side, instead of straight on, which makes him a harder target. You want to present a good, fair target to your opponent, so this is really important. We’re working on changing how his shield is strapped so he won’t have to worry about it so much, and we’ll also be doing some work on the quintain to improve his aim. He got some great tips from the show jouster, so he’ll be working on that as much as possible. After all, Lysts on the Lake is only a few weeks away!


  1. As much as I love barefoot, some horses just need shoes. It's a bummer, but if that's what it takes to keep Saga happy, then it's definitely the best way to go. :)

    Every time I watch Full Metal Jousting on TV, I think of you. LOL

    1. BTW Jen, I'm still waiting to see your post about Full Metal Jousting ;)

  2. I do find it interesting that he's better in shoes. I truly wonder why that is. Is it numbing? Is it true relief. Trust me, I'm NOT nay know I'm pro barefoot but there are days I question it as we struggle/struggle/struggle....not that I want to put shoes on, but the "WHY!!!" and if sore feet go into shoes, why is it better? Sigh-hoof nerdness. ;)

    1. KES, I wish I knew. As best as I can tell, his soles are so thin that any pressure on them causes discomfort. Boots with pads did not help him, and I think even that was too much pressure on the sole. We also tried shoes with pour-in gel pads, which made him SUPER lame - again, I think it's because it was just too much pressure on the sole. I'm guessing that the shoes are making him comfortable because they take all pressure off the sole.

      As far as I can tell, the ONLY way he will be comfortable w/out shoes is to get him to grow sole. If that doesn't happen... he's never gonna be comfy barefoot. Sigh.

  3. Ah Jen, I think you are doing the right thing. I am total barefoot convert BUT I do think there might be hell of a lot of things we are yet to know about how to keep some horses sound without shoes.
    There were about 5 months when Kingsley was so good on all surfaces that I thought even if I walked him on broken glass, lava, nails nothing would go through! And yet, he also had times when he looked uncomfortable on soft surface.
    It's such a minefield!
    Good luck to Saga :)