Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shoeing for the Ground We Run On - A Lesson Learned

Looking at upcoming barrel races on, I stumbled across an event I know all-too-well: The All-American Youth Barrel Race in Jackson, Miss.

After a great year on my horse in 2001, my parents agreed to drive me to Mississippi for this event. If I remember, some 800 other kids ran there that year, and Talmadge and Mike Green raised $25,000 in added money, with saddles given in every go in every division.

I was so excited - other than the Congress, this was the only "big" show I had ever run. It was the first time I had ever traveled further south than West Virginia for a barrel race, and unfortunately, the first time my horse had ever run in deep sand.

In the northern parts of the country, we find ourselves running in harder-packed dirt and clay mixes, sometimes with a bit of sand added. My horse had just slight rimmed shoes on, perfect for running in our northern dirt. BIG mistake.

In the first go, we wrapped one and two, but when we came around three, my horse's back end slipped right out from underneath her. She caught herself, jerked her joints up off the ground and ran home. We ended up in the 4D after all of that, and I qualified for the finals.

In the second go, Onyx couldn't turn at all. She wouldn't even get close to a barrel - completely unlike her. We just couldn't figure it out; I schooled all night in the practice pen but could not get a decent turn. The same thing happened in the finals the next day. At 14, I was devastated. I cried the whole 20-hour drive home.

When we got her home, she was nailing barrels where ever I took her. She won youth classes the whole month of July and never looked back.

Until August, when I noticed something just wasn't right with her back end. I took her to the vet, and low and behold, she had fractured her hip during that run in Mississippi and had been running on it ever since. Luckily, our vets at Fox Run Equine Center got us into a study for shock wave therapy , which healed her in about six months. She is still running today, with much thanks to Fox Run.

Moral of this story - BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU TRAVEL. I try to switch shoes depending on the ground at a particular time of year (much to the dismay of my shoer who thinks I'm a pain). When I'm heading down south like last weekend, I have pegs in my sidewinder shoes. In the good indoor arenas, I have a lot less grab with just a rim shoe.
At right, the sidewinder.

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