Wednesday 20 July 2011

Celery and surfaces

As some of you know, I've been doing less and less in terms of actual trimming over the last year or so, partly because I have found the horses are doing more themselves and partly because they tend to do it better than a human given half the chance. 
Of course, not everyone has the sort of environment where horses can self-trim, not least because not everyone can give their horses enough mileage on tough surfaces.  
A close-up of the part of the track in the top photo
There is a huge difference in my own horses feet during the times of the year when they are working hard (August till April).  For these months, several are completely self-trimming and the others only need the most minor of tidy-ups but during the summer months  some do grow more hoof than can be worn with the more limited mileage they do on the tracks and hacking out. 
Pocholo and Jack  playing their fave game - more pics another day(!)
By contrast the rehab horses are normally self-trimming while they are here even though they don't do such high mileage.  Why? Because most are in shoes and/or in only very light work or kept on soft surfaces when they arrive here, so the change to the tracks and a more regular work schedule, when combined with a slower hoof growth rate is perfect for self-trimming.
Mixed shingle and rock on a sloping part of the track
Many will need light or occasional trims when they are back home and have grown in a new hoof capsule because by that stage their hoof growth rates have increased but for others their work load and growth rate may match and they may become self-trimming and need no human intervention with a rasp.
Of the surfaces we have on our tracks, this is probably the most useful one for rehab horses.  Its 5-10mm shingle which doesn't pack down and its is of varying depths - 2-6 inches generally.   We have a yard and a long section of track which are covered with this and generally even rehabs with dire feet find this comfortable.
Because it doesn't pack down it can get moved either by horses mooching around or by heavy rainfall and is best laid in fairly flat areas otherwise you get left with rock or whatever is underneath it - as in the photo below. 
Generally, our track has rock or shillet (below) as the bottom layer which drains well and is great for horses once they have the beginnings of good hooves.  
Its a much tougher surface and rehab horses don't normally choose to walk on this initially.  Its important that they don't have to, either, and next to these areas are softer tracks which they can use if they prefer.  We have a yard of this which is being pea-gravelled next month, which I think will improve it for the rehabs.
There is an area of conifers in the middle of the track which can get very wet, but again there is a well-drained track through the middle and round the bottom of it, onto another pea gravel track, so horses don't need to go through wet areas if they don't choose to. This is probably the least useful area in terms of hoof wear, because its generally softer, but it does provide protection from flies in hot weather and gales in the winter! 


Val said...

In addition to pea gravel, do you have any recommendations for added materials to a paddock that will aid self-trimming, like the packed shillet/rock?

jenj said...

Thanks for the great post, Nic! Someday, sooner or later, I plan to get some pea gravel for my track. Unfortunately there are sooo many other projects that need my attention just now.

Have you ever used wood chips, and if so, would you recommend that? I have access to quite a lot, but I do worry about them getting tucked up into the horse's feet.

Nic Barker said...

Val, the biggest expense is usually delivery so I try to use whatever is nearest. Shillet is good value for me because it comes out of the ground but for you, contact a local quarry or stone merchant and see what is most cost-effective.

Jen, one of my yards had woodchip on it - we've just scraped off the last of it and are going to lay more gravel but the woodchip was OK. It lasted about 2 years and eventually rotted down but in a drier place like Texas it would last longer. Might blow away though. It seemed fine for feet, but I wasn't happy about using more of it - I need something more impervious to rain!

smazourek said...

Thank you :)

Seeing the surfaces was great and I think the land we're considering buying will be pretty amenable to this kind of track setup. I'm very excited about the possibilities.