Mindy, I liked your post on the various boots for minis. It would be great if you would write a post regarding what situations / circumstances we should consider using boots with our minis. They would help with grip on slippery surfaces, but I am unsure about driving on asphalt or gravel roads, hard packed clay surfaces and sometimes I see photos of minis with boots only on the front. Lynn~ Thank you for this question Lynn! I actually am asked this quite a bit and thought the forum was a great place to answer so others can chime in with the various reasons they like to boot their ponies. My main reason for booting my ponies is wear and tear on their hooves. We do so many miles on the gravel roads that they tend to wear their toes down to nubbins. Sky was starting to get sore when I restarted her so I pulled out the old boots. Here is a blog about that: https://www.theessentialhorse.com/post/easyboot-mini-hoof-boot (If you have read the blog about boot comparison you will know that the Easy Boots didn't work out when we started doing our longer drives and had to cross water multiple times. They would fly off as we trotted down the trail. Not helpful! LOL!) Another reason I like to boot my ponies is I am looking for some shock absorption for them. Something that provides some padding between the pony and the road. When we are driving we are usually on a road surface, unlike trail riding when you spend more time on a trail or cantering through fields. Pavement, asphalt, gravel roads, can be very hard on their joints. So the boots really help with that! And add traction, as you suggested.
I typically only boot the front feet as I have found they tend to wear their hinds a bit less. BUT if I have a pony that runs the toes off the hinds then I will boot them. Or, as with Zorro, a sore pony. Last spring Zorro had a little laminitic attack and was sore on all four feet. So I booted all four when we went on our camping, driving trip in the mountains. He drove 15 miles, 2 days in a row, booted on all four, slogging through mud that was over the top of the boots, crossing so so much water and trotting and cantering down the road. He never took a bad step and when we got back to camp his feet were clean inside the boots! AND we had all 4 boots! LOL! Funnily when we got back home he was quite clear with me that he prefers to be booted on all 4 when he pulls the bike. (He told me this by being quite reluctant to go forward when I tried to go back to just booting the fronts. As soon as I turned around and booted his hinds he trotted right down the driveway without a problem! LOL!) When I ground drive him I only boot the fronts. So, that's why I boot my ponies! Why do you boot yours? And do you boot all four or just the fronts?
If you read my blog you know that I have gone through several nutritional stages with the ponies. From balancing their hay analysis carefully to feeding as simply as possible in the last year. And I'll be honest. Sky and Zorro have never looked as good as they do now! And my feed bill is much happier with this feed plan :) Both ponies had a little scare this summer. They both had their blood tested so we could have a good solid base level and found that BOTH of them had elevated liver enzymes. I lost Bonnie to liver failure after 2 years of battling her IR, so I am especially sensitive to elevated numbers. It was decided that both ponies were too fat and this was putting stress on their livers. So they went on a very strict diet paired with a vigorous exercise program. No more than 5 pounds of hay and pellets each day per pony. They were very grumpy, hungry ponies. It's so hard to balance physical well being with mental. I couldn't possibly exercise them more than I was, driving them 5 days a week no less than 4-5 miles a drive. Taking them for walks on their days off from driving. I was getting so worn out keeping them moving! And tired of watching them be hungry. If anyone mentioned that Zorro shouldn't put any more weight on I wanted to scratch their eyes out. It was getting so so stressful. Then winter came. We were still driving but I wasn't weighing their feed any longer and they aren't getting any pellets and soybean meal during these cold months. Only hay! They don't have food 24/7, I still dole it out in hay nets, but they aren't as crabby as they were. These last 3 weeks they have both had a much needed break from driving and working. I think we all needed a break. So my feed program right now is about 10-12 pounds of hay a day, fresh warm water, and Himalayan salt. They are a bit plum and a lot sassy and seem quite happy! I plan on feeding the soybean meal when it starts to warm up and they are working on blowing their winter coat for their summer coat. But for now we will keep it simple! Here are a few before and after collages:
I think they both looked very good in September. They definitely lost quite a lot of weight and both were full of sass and energy! What do you feed your ponies or horses? Do you have your hay analyzed? Do you feel it's important to balance the vitamins and minerals? Is your area low on anything that you know of?