Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If the Shoe (doesn't) Fit

A couple of months ago, I finally broke down and decided to put shoes on Doodle.
He was going well barefoot, mind you, with a little problem here and there. After a year of hemming and hawing, I thought, ok, let's give this a try.

Doodle getting one of his foot rubs in the morning

You might ask why do this if the horse is going well.
Couple of reasons. Doodle's feet are high maintenance. He bruises easily around the toes. He tends to get heel sore if he's not completely balanced, which tends to happen after a few weeks of training following his trim.

On the fateful day of shoeing, Doodle acts like an ass. Mr. Laid-back and Happy is giving us a hard time. Well, let's get this over with so we can move on and get racing. Right?


The moment the shoes are on, the horse goes DEAD LAME.

A few days later, he seems better. There might be an adjustment period.

He never comes back out of it.

Change shoes. Pads. A slight improvement.
2 weeks later, again he is DEAD LAME.

In the meantime, I've moved to the Churchill Downs Training Center (also called Spectrum or Trackside). Cindirelli has retired. Spicey has ankle issues. They're going home. Piranha, who finally had a work, comes back not so good on that bow.
I've held that boy's tendons together for going on a year. He's not going to hold up to racing.
I call his owner and tell her she needs to bring him home.

Down to 2 horses in the barn. Doodle and Loopy.

While Loopy has raced a couple of times, she's been in over her head. Every time I enter her for a race, the race doesn't go. The track calls and asks if I want to if her into a different race. The girl needs to run, so I agree.
Her last race was right up her alley. In the slop, no less, but still. She lies in contention, moving up the rail when her head bobs up and she starts backing off. Come back on strong and beats one horse fair and square with tons of fuel left to burn. A mile race would have gotten her 3rd place. The 6 1/2 furlongs got her 5th place. Cools down in 10 minutes, coughing, her face covered in mud. Her mouth is full of dirt in spite of the Figure Eight.

Second time she backed off like this. Both in muddy or sloppy conditions. Both times she comes back coughing- scope reveals a ton of dirt down her windpipe.
The girl doesn't like getting mud in the face.

Doodle in the meantime is full of energy and pissed about not training. I get a blacksmith to pull his shoes off. Send him to the track the next day. Different horse.
He's been going better and better each time I send him. In the meantime, Stephanie, my miracle hoof expert, has trimmed him back into balance. When she showed up, Doodle sighed and put his head on her chest.

We're back to barefoot with him and he feels like a million dollars.
The shoes set us back a good month or more, probably.
Prospects of making a race at Churchill with him have dwindled out completely at this point.
Ellis Park's meet is coming up but there are no races on the card for him there that I can see.
Maybe they'll write some extras.

Last year, I was pointing him to Kentucky Downs in September. It looks like that's where he's going to end up racing, after all.

There is a lesson to be learned here. One that I've learned a thousand times over from horses.
Follow your gut. Always follow your gut.

Because when you start listening to outside voices, or you think your inner voice may not be right, after all, well, that shoe might not fit.


Doodle in the cold water therapy spa enjoying his treatment


Shirley said...

I have pretty well quit riding with shoes; my stallion had a habit of catching his front shoes with his hinds when doing sliding stops, ripping them off- he's a really hard stopper, so I quit shoeing him two years ago. He does well barefoot although I do have to be careful about riding on rocky ground.

Mrs Mom said...

I hope Doodle runs (and WINS, of course, ) in Sept on my birthday ;) Kiss that big lug from me please!!