The season might be over (well, for the most part, more on that in a second) but for the ponies the past week has been like going back to school again: new shoes, new jackets (well, old jackets pulled out for the first time this season), new haircuts, and plenty of homework to start chipping away on.
Because I'm flat broke, I decided to pull Kiki's shoes for the winter to save on farrier bills ($65 verse $225? Yes please). Kiki has always had good feet and was barefoot until she was 6+, and my farrier was totally on board, so I felt pretty good about the decision. So far, almost a week later, she's been FABULOUS. No foot soreness at all (though I have been careful to avoid crunchy rocks while she's adjusting) and her first ride barefoot felt MARKEDLY better than previous days. Normally she finds her balance pretty difficult and I have to constantly try to keep her from falling into her forehand and racing wildly, and while it wasn't a 100% turn around I was surprised at how much more balanced she felt shoe-free. I don't want to jinx myself early, but the shoes might not be coming back any time soon...
(Kiki looking pumped for the farrier)
Ringo's shoes looked pretty weird when I first looked at them, but I think I've come out feeling happy about them. We will see. Ringo's shoeing is always tough, and the amount of heartache I've put into his feet (versus the absolute non-event that is Kiki's shoeing) has impressed on me how important good feet will be for the next horse I end up with. I never want to deal with this again!!
They are also both getting clipped tomorrow, which will be good though I'm dreading the process. There was a time when I was a moderately proficient clipper, but I have never liked the process, never been that good at it, and have not done it myself now for almost three years. Watch out, ponies: you might be looking like chewed up carpet samples before long.
I'm getting excited because, after a few weeks of just riding on my own, it looks like I'm going to be getting some lessons again in the very near future. I've been rebrushing up on all the homework I was left with in my last lessons on Ringo and Kiki, respectively, and can't wait to get a progress report and new instructions as we head into the winter.
But wait, did I say that my season might not be over just yet? It's true! On a whim I decided to enter one day of a show down in Watsonville this coming weekend. I'll just being one test, one day, and am hoping to use it as a low-pressure way of taking a first attempt at Third Level before the year ends. Hopefully we'll get a good sense of what we're doing okay on and what needs work before next spring!