Tag Archives: barefoot

Merry Christmas and Thank You!!

Merry Christmas!!!  We had a great afternoon yesterday; lotsa smiles, lotsa cookies and lotsa carrotts for everyone in the barn!

Thank you so much for helping us inaugurate Lance’s new Grand Prix freestyle.  He was a little surprised at times as the pirouettes and the tempi changes were all “in the wrong spots” (in his mind!!!!).  He’ll learn the pattern now and everything will make much more sense the next time he does it!!!  So thank you for all your kind words and applause…he loved it!  Thank you to Karen Robinson from Applause Dressage Freestyle Design.  She did another wonderful job.  The music and pattern are wonderful and does really suit Lance and Lindsey!

Warming up for the freestyle.

Warming up for the freestyle.

Lindsey and Lance nailing the timing for the extended trot line!!

Lindsey and Lance nailing the timing for the extended trot line!!

Lance loving the meet and greet after the freestyle.

Lance loving the meet and greet after the freestyle.

Lance loves to hang out and chat!  He probably was checking out the mugs of hot mulled wine!!

Lance loves to hang out and chat! He probably was checking out the mugs of hot mulled wine!!

Lance being Lance...

Lance being Lance…

So we’re into the final week of work here at home.  We’re all getting so excited about heading south!!  It’s getting close!!!

A wonderful day ahead…off to the barn!!






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Ok…Genesis Organic Horse Feed…love it!!!

We started the switch to non-GMO, organic horse feed about one month ago.  I’ve been transitioning to the new feed slowly.  It is quite a switch for my guys as they have been on a concentrated feed for many years.  We should be totally on Genesis by the end of the month.



They all love the feed!  Even the very pickiest eaters are digging in to their feed tubs.

The biggest change is in the overall shape of my horses.  Both Lindsey and I commented last week on how fit Lance is looking .  And then I looked at the rest of them.  They are changing shape..more muscle , more muscle definition and tighter under lines!  Even Lance is loosing his big, saggy tummy.

Now I know this is a very subjective observation but I know my guys pretty well.  Nothing much has changed in their environment to produce this change in their muscling.  If anything the June bloom of green grass around here would tend to add a layer of fat to everyone’s outline but no, we are not seeing that at all.

Their work levels each day has not changed…we are still working very hard!  But the work is now producing a more fit horse!  Are the proteins in Genesis more available to them to convert to muscle with the same work?  Is there less stomach inflammation while digesting Genesis and now their systems are getting healthier to better able to produce a better athlete?

Lance's Grand Prix test last weekend.

Lance’s Grand Prix test last weekend.



I don’t know the reason or reasons why they are looking better and working better to their potentials but I am very pleased!  Very pleased.

Off to feed breakfast…Genesis Organic Horse Feed!!!


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WEG Eh????

We’re home from the Calgary show.  It was a weekend of mega highs and mega lows.  I am very glad to be home after this one!!!!

Thank you to FEI Steward Linda Millar.  I took up a lot of her time asking question after question. She was so kind as to patiently walk me through her very thoughtful answers.  It is a great asset to our sport in Alberta to have such a knowledgable official at our shows.  Thank you Linda, you are awesome!!!

After Thursday and Friday, that because of technical difficulties, Lance was left confused and unhappy in his work.  It resulted in a disastrous first Grand Prix test on Friday.  The disaster in the test was no surprise; the problems in the warm up ring told us it was going to be a tough one.  The surprise was the mark…a 60% from Gabrial Armando, FEI 4*, ARG.  I really don’t know what he was looking at…that test was barely acceptable, barely a 50%.

The mark was so unimportant.  What was important was that we work out the equipment problems we were having and get the job done…get Lance back happy and confident and doing his job in the ring.

So with some more information from Linda Millar I made some decisions about Saturday’s ride. With this plan, we were now ready for the day.  I wasn’t convinced Lance was going to easily come back to his normal confidence so Lindsey and I discussed the ride.  We went over the approach to the half halt she would apply in the warmup ring.  If everything worked out as I hoped it would, we would have back our happy, confident Lance.  It worked and we were back at it!!!

A great Grand Prix test!!!!!!  Oh yeah…we did it Barefoot!!!

This test was a 65% from Mercedes Campdera, FEI 4*, MEX, and guess what…a 60% from Gabrial Armando, FEI 4*, ARG…I repeat my thoughts from Friday’s ride…”I really don’t know what he was looking at!!!!”.  Welcome to the subjective world of dressage… 🙂

Was it totally where we want it?…no.  Was it a great start?…hell ya!!!!

We don’t have him powered up yet.  We needed to get the half halt headed in the right direction at a low power setting in the ring.  When we power him up the passage and piaffe will then get more confident and confirmed.  The pirouettes will then get tighter and faster.  To power up Lance takes a very little ask (he wants to work at full power all the time but it’s not always going in the right direction 🙂 ) but to power him up and have it going in the way we want it to go, takes skill, finesse and a lot of time to explain it to him (I love him a lot but he is really not a “fast” thinker!! 🙂 ).

On our road to WEG (World Equestrian Games in France) August 2014, this is June 2013.  We are on track and heading in the right direction.

And Shannon Peters is here in a couple of months!!!!!!  We’ll have Lance (and Fred and William) very ready for Shannon’s input and polish.

Off to turn out a very tired Grand Prix horse to his very green paddock for a very well deserved day off!!!

(I love my job….. 🙂 )


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Barefoot, heading into week 4

I wanted to snap some photos this morning but the sun just didn’t cooperate.  Everything was too dark to show you how all their feet look super great!

Dan Sullivan (our farrier) was here on Friday and he worked his magic and cleaned everyone up a bit.  It was nothing  major, just a bit on the rasp and bingo…they are all set for another couple of weeks.  We want to keep on top of any chipping of the hoof walls that will occur till the hoof grows out past the old nail holes.

The quality of the work we have been doing in the last couple of weeks has been really off the charts.  All of them are carrying more engagement while staying out and through in the top lines and quick…whew…excellent, excellent work.  Lindsey and I have been puttin’ it together in the arena and the horses are digging deep and looking awesome!!

How much of the improvement has to do with barefoot?  Well, I’m not quite sure but my gut tells me…not much.  The improvement in the work is primarily the improvement in the rider (yeah Linds!!! 🙂 🙂 ).  But, in my position as chief analyzer (horse and rider), I do notice a freedom and lightness of the limbs that has shown up in the last couple of weeks.  I’ll definitely attribute that to the barefoot change.  It’s very significant in Lance (Grand Prix level); the piaffe and passage is really getting some awesome air time (he’s such an amazing horse!!).  The other horses are moving with the same lighter, freer change in their movement but as the work is not so collected I think the change is not so obvious.

I am very pleased.  Thank you again Shannon Peters for letting me know that our goal of competitive international level dressage is attainable with no shoes.  The knowledge  that we are not taking a step backwards as we push towards our goals to compete in the international rings of dressage by going barefoot was really only “knowable” because of Shannon’s example.  To read about it or to see it occasionally in the competition ring wouldn’t have convinced me to make such a drastic change.  But to watch the management of barefoot horses in one of the top dressage barns…???  Well…’cause barefoot makes sense on so many levels and Dan’s on board, let’s take the leap and go for it!

Barefoot and happy…so happy…


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A very lovely weekend…I love my job…

Lindsey’s horses had the weekend off…they needed it!  We had a most successful week of work last week and they were all were very tired.  48 hours of rest and down time was the only thing on their schedules all weekend.

Lance and William took full advantage of their days off and after coming in from their hour of turnout they slept the morning away, oblivious to all the activity in the barn aisle…

William having a good snooze...

William having a good snooze…

And the same in Lance's stall...

And the same in Lance’s stall…

Fred got to stay out in her paddock for the morning as she is not the pudgy part of the FCS team and was enjoying some extra grazing time in the sunshine.

All the horses out in their paddocks got some extra stimulation Saturday as the MS bike ride went by the farm all morning.  Zorro was the cutest…he stood there watching bike after bike, amazed by each one.  There were a lot of bikers that stopped and took photos…I’m guessing a lot of them don’t get out of the city often to get up close and personal with farm life.  It was a wonderful morning for everyone, equine and biker.

MS Ride

The boys in my family (Ivars and Greg) spent the weekend on Cold Lake fishing lake trout.  The 5th wheel (or fish-wheel, as Mack has re-named it) worked well, as well as the operation of having to tow the boat behind the rig.  We set up a baby monitor in the back window of the fish-wheel so the guys could watch the boat from the truck as they headed down the road.  It worked like a charm and they picked up a loose tie down on the boat and solved the problem before it became serious…that alone paid for the baby monitor in spades!!!

The "Fish-wheel"...hitching the boat behind...next job...

The “Fish-wheel”…hitching the boat behind…next job…

Today starts another busy week and week 3 barefoot!!!  Dan Sullivan (our farrier extraordinaire!!!) is here on Thursdays so I’ll ask him to have a peek at the state of their feet…they all look good and are moving super!

Off to a rainy, windy day but first this morning, Pilates with Lindsey!!!  Yeah!!!





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Barefoot, Week 2


So no dramatic changes…yeah!!!!  Are they moving well, yes!  Are they comfortable, yes!  Are their feet holding up, yes!  Fred and Lance have had a bit of chipping and that will continue till the foot grows out past the nail holes.  The bit of trimming and rasping needed is easy to do and is now on the daily hoof care list at tack up time.  I am very happy with the whole process.

There has been no transition from shod to barefoot for any of them.  It’s because of the great shape their feet were in before pulling their shoes.  As Dan (Dan Sullivan, my farrier extraordinaire) has alway told me “It’s all about the trim.  A good trim makes and keeps a good foot”.  Thank you Dan, thank you!!!

The weekend was very busy.  Summer chores and mowing, mowing, mowing.  Finding a sweet spot in the week where the rain has stopped and the puddles are not so deep that we can get out on the mower is a challenge.  So Saturday was the mowing window and I took advantage of it.  Finished my book!!! 🙂  I love Audible and mowing!!  “Cooked” by by Micheal Pollan, a wonderful read about the science and history of cooking with fire, water, earth and air.  So much information and very thoughtful.  I’ll read this one again.

Fridays are Amma Days…

Mack, checking out the bird feeder.

Mack, checking out the bird feeder.

"Shhhh, birds are coming for a treat"  (Mack loves his Angry Bird shirt!!)

“Shhhh, birds are coming for a treat” (Mack loves his Angry Bird shirt!!)

"Papa's home!!!!"  "Ok...let's trim this tree?"

“Papa’s home!!!!” “Ok…let’s trim this tree?”

Today is Pilates at Refresh this morning and then a full day in the arena :).  I love my job!!


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Tired, tired horses

Today’s post will be a quick entry as the sun is up and everyone is anxious to be fed.  🙂  (I love early mornings!!!)

Yesterday was day 2 barefoot.  They are all moving beautifully and working very hard but tired…oh my goodness they are tired!!  I think the change of balance in their feet has made them increase their concentration levels each stride and they are now very, very tired!  Their bodies in each movement look great but their energy levels are quite low.  Poor babies…you’ll feel better as you adapt to the change!!

Changing the balance in an FEI horse, no matter how small, requires an adaptation period and pulling their shoes is a very big change.  They have to balance differently in their paddocks, in their stalls and in the work.  Not that easy for such creatures of habit and routine.

Lande, Fred and William...shoes, shoes, shoes

A lot of weight off the bottom of each foot.

Bottom line, they are moving super and happy in work, and in the long run I belive that there will be no detriment to our journey in producing high performance dressage horses.  In fact, no detriment, we are closer to our goals going barefoot.

I think today will be a stretchy walk day.

Off to turn my tired horses out to their paddocks….



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Barefoot. Barefoot? Barefoot!!!!

I have been thinking about this for a long while.  Grand Prix dressage barefoot?  Maybe…

Thank you Shannon Peters for showing us barefoot at Grand Prix is possible.  By Shannon’s example, we were assured we wouldn’t be held back in our quest for excellence at Grand Prix by pulling off their shoes.


A lot of things need to be considered before committing to working a high performance barefoot dressage horse.

So I did a lot of considering…

The biggest factor to think about for us to go barefoot is our farrier.  Dan Sullivan has taken care of my horses feet for as long as I have been riding.  I consider him the best in the business.  Period.  He knows his stuff.  (and if he doesn’t, he researches!!!) 

Friday morning I ask,  “So Dan, talk to me about  barefoot” and Dan replies “Your horses have good feet and have always been trimmed well.  Why not go barefoot?  It’s better for the horse”

So Friday we went barefoot.

Lande, Fred and William...shoes, shoes, shoes

Lance, Fred and William…shoes, shoes, shoes

Yesterday’sbarefoot rides were amazing!  Lance and Fred love the new feel in their feet, William was a little apprehensive (he very sensitive!!).  He’ll be better today, I’m sure!

Thank you Shannon, thank you Dan…



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