View Full Version : Rider weight and hoof issues

19-12-09, 08:21 PM
** please excuse silly questions and comments this evening...I'm trying to keep myself busy...hubby is having emergency surgery tonight (Crohn's related issue, happens 4 or 5 times a year, but I still worry!)**

I know a LOT of my reluctance to ride Gypsy for longer than 20ish minutes has to do with the fact that between my saddle and myself, I'm pushing 26% of her bodyweight. I had hoped to find a "sofa with legs," but alas that was not to be. I weigh as much as a 6'2" hulking cowboy *sniffle* (I'm only 168 cm tall).

Gypsy's had a crack in her front hoof that seems to keep at the same level from the ground. She's been trimmed 4 times since I've gotten her, twice very significantly (she had a LOT of overgrowth in the beginning) and the farrier has told me it was fine for me to ride her but I wonder...

With this crack, and the expectation to carry my weight, plus the heat, and the dryness of the hot, rocky, red-clay ground: Would it be better for me to have her shod? I've never been one for shoeing, unless you're doing a lot of riding on the road, ice, or doing so much work the horse is wearing the hoof faster than it can grow (I am currently working her so very little needs to be trimmed every six weeks). With the heat, I've been wetting her hooves and using Effol to try to keep them pliable enough to cope with the necessary expansion as she walks with my lardy arse on her back.

She's never shown any sign of lameness, but does occassionally tend to "sightsee" and forgets to watch where she's going and stumbles (one cannot see in front of them with ones nose in the air!). Once she *almost* fell, definitely a "pee myself" moment. :o Her unsteadyness could very likelly be the fact she'd been paddocked 3 years, and had never been broken to saddle until recently, despite being six, so she's learning to balance herself with a rider (this is one area my instructor will be able to help when she sees us, I'm sure).

But to the question at hand...would shoeing Gypsy give her more appropriate support for the tasks she's being asked to do? I know I would feel a whole lot more confident that I could safely ride her until she wasn't fresh anymore if I wasn't afraid I was going to hurt her.

Thanks for your advice in advance guys...PLEASE PLEASE PLEEEEEEASE don't turn this into a big shoeing vs non shoeing in general thing, I know it can be a heated issue that can get out of hand, and I apologise if it does.

19-12-09, 08:28 PM
Without seeing her or you or her feet or your ground it's very hard to say.

If you trust your farrier I would ask him and see what he thinks. He's not likely to tell you to put shoes on so he gets more money in his pocket, he'll make more money in less time just trimming than shoeing!

19-12-09, 08:44 PM
Nose in the air may indicate she's hurting in the back more than the feet. Not sure how to say this, but there is a limit to how much a horse can carry comfortably.... and yes..it does show up in the feet, but not only the feet...the rest of the body suffers too.
So... not sure what the answer is...?!

19-12-09, 08:50 PM
Caille - why not ask your instructor's opinion? Hard for us to say much that's useful without a pic as a guide.

Hope all goes well with your hubby - emergencies are never nice. Best wishes. Regards

19-12-09, 08:55 PM
Well, with respect to the growth and overall quality of the hooves she doesn't need shoes?
So what I'd be doing would be
- lungeing and groundwork to improve her balance and build up muscles
- not riding her*) until the crack has grown out (due to the a bit 'unfavourable' weight ratio between you two, this will certainly be good for the hoof) - how long will this take (how long is the crack) approximately?

This would have several advantages:
the hoof will be better balanced
the horse will be able to balance itself
it reduces the risk of stumbling

But as h_p said: it's not easy to say if you haven't seen the crack (and the hoof).
My approach would take several months with the advantage that afterwards you'll have a well-balanced horse with good hooves.
Shoeing would be quicker and you could continue riding, but could not be sure whether the crack will come back if you take off the shoes (as the imbalance in the hoof has not been removed but only an 'artificial' balance has been created by shoeing).

*)means: no trot, no canter, as the working load increases with speed. Slow groundwork on horseback will certainly also improve her balance.

Just my 2 cents...

edit: just came across my mind: my farrier suggests for the summer months not to water the hooves but to wrap them in clean mud. The moisture can be kept for a longer time and its not a 0 - 100 - 0 method. He says that the hoof walls are better off with a soft and slow change between dry and humid than with suddenly lots of water and a few minutes later drying out again.

Tb Lover
19-12-09, 09:24 PM
Well I agree - It is easier for the farrier to trim than shoe,

Your weight is not an issue,

Looking in the sky is well just . . . a green type of horse ( doesn't matter the age)

She/He probably hasn't got an instructor (and I don't know?) mightn't want one / need one ??? That could open up another can of worms. Maybe not into "that type of thing/riding" - This Lady/Man probably just wants to have a ride and unfortunately has a "re-curring???" vertical?? cracks in her/his horses's hoof,

Thought about a bucket of water with Condys (SP) Crytals in it .. . from old timer and "Thread Killer"

20-12-09, 12:26 AM
Sorry, cant help with your hoof questions....

Send your husband my best wishes. I also have Crohns and have had extensive surgery over the last 10 years since I was diagnosed ie ileostomy, resections ect. I hope he recovers quickly and without complication. Terrible to be in hospital at Christmas :(

20-12-09, 06:51 AM
Thank you so much guys...

Tb Lover - I'm a fat older gal getting back into horses now that my boys are old enough to fend for themselves :)

Pillegro - Thank you so much for your thoughts and sympathy..it's nice to know someone who understands what he's going through! I will send your thoughts to Mick today when I go to the hospital. If it's like the other similar surgeries he's had, he'll be feeling MUCH better after the surgery than he did before it.

Bad Bones
20-12-09, 08:10 AM
Sounds like with what you have on your plate you need to ride!

I would say shoe the affected hoof & it's pair and get on & out for a nice quiet amble. An hour or so at the walk is not going to hurt pony.

26% of horse's weight is certainly OK to go out for a long walk and probably also OK for short amounts of harder work.

Shoeing will help deal with the crack more effectively in the current dry conditions as will as reducing your feelings of 'guilt' about it. Once the crack has then grown out you can consider going back to bare foot if that is your preference.


20-12-09, 08:26 AM

There's some good advice on here and in the end it remains your decision. Good luck.

And good on you for seeing the connections -between the feet, the rider, the back, the green-ness, the heat, the dry hard ground, and even between the worry about your hubby and turning it into a worry about something totally unrelated. I soooo understand doing that, LOL.

Hope Mick is feeling much better and you get him home for xmas.

20-12-09, 11:17 AM
Thank you so much, Montego :) Your thoughts are very much appreciated!

20-12-09, 12:28 PM
Caille, a farrier once suggested we put our horses in stables with damp bedding, to help prevent excessively dried out feet, to make them easier to trim, and also help prevent cracks. This initially went against the grain with me: "Wot? Wet the sawdust? They need a dry (but not dusty) bed!" However, in our often very dry climate, I found it helped in the heat to thoroughly dampen down the sawdust in their boxes - it laid the dust, and was also a bit cooler. It didn't make their beds soggy, just a bit damp; and standing about in it all night (when they weren't lying down) certainly put some moisture back into their hooves.

You can buy "water boots" from Newmarket Saddlery in North Richmond NSW (they do heaps of mail order, and regularly advertise in Horse Deals)..... however, these are like a wrap-around bell boot, with a couple of layers of felt stuff inside, which you soak in a bucket till their soaked, then put on the horse in the stable.... and they do put a bit of moisture back into the top/wall of the foot, but most of the moisture absorption should occur through the sole, which these little guys don't address.

I've noticed that the hooves on my two stabled-every-night "children" are not as hard and dry as the two paddocked 24/7 girls. So dampening their sawdust is working. This may or may not be an option for you, but dry, hard feet are going to be more prone to cracks than more moist, supple ones. I find none of the hoof oils are as effective as ordinary sorbolene cream - the oils don't seem to penetrate as well.

I think Bad Bones made a couple of good points for you too. I prefer not to shoe - not for fanatical, new-age reasons, just because I prefer my horses to be unshod (and I ride most days of the week).... but if necessary for their well-being, I'm happy to have them shod. It's whatever is best for the individual horse at a particular time. The main thing is to try to grow out the crack, without it spreading any further - often a small narrow groove rasped across the top of it helps - then when you have good healthy feet again, you can make the next decisions - shoe or not shoe, whatever.

And as for the weight of the rider, just do your best! You admit there's a bit more of you than there should be, so start now, to do something about it. Don't put it off till after Christmas, start NOW. Don't go on a mad, restrictive diet (that's doomed to fail), just look at what you eat, and reduce: a) your portion sizes, and b) the amount of "treat" foods you eat/drink. Jut have a bit less of everything, and try to cut out anything that's seriously bad for you or weight loss. If you love chocolate, eat chocolate, but only a LITTLE BIT. Think the Weight Watchers line that Kate Moss reiterated: "Nothing tastes as good as being skinny!"
If you have horses and a husband to look after, you're getting exercise, so you may not have to increase that by very much. A good tip is to buy a cheap pedometer, clip it to your belt and make sure you do the recommended 1000 steps a day - walking, or whatever, just move!

All the very best of luck, and keep us posted on Mick and Gypsy!

20-12-09, 12:45 PM
I am going to make myself unpopular here but I would not ride a green horse if I was overweight because I have just always been taught that the lightest (good) riders were asked to sit on green horses first. BUT there are lots of other things you could do with your horse that is not riding such as groundwork and do some circus things such as train it to do Spanish walk or try lunging it with or without lead (of course not just boring circles that’s not so good for the legs anyway but straight or over cavaletti etc), going for walks with the horse (you both walk) etc. While doing that you could lose a bit of weight and then get on again. Maybe you know someone lighter than you who would sit on your horse while you lunge it and you could work on helping your horse to get the balance back like that. I just think that a green horse has enough to do finding its own balance again with a light rider and having someone on top who weighs a bit too much is just going to make it harder for him. Riding the horse in walk would be the maximum I personally would do if I was overweight and had a green horse to ride. Otherwise I’d just do other stuff until the horse is more balanced and I had lost some weight. The things that I listed are actually really a lot of fun to do :) and you will move around more than you do just by sitting on your horse and therefore lose weight and then you can get back on again doing real work with the horse :) Good luck!

20-12-09, 02:01 PM
Hi StElmos and Chipsy, not offended at all, because I know what folks think of me when they see me. When I was 53 kgs before I got sick (Prednisone is EBIL and OV DA DEBIL, BTW), I thought the same thing about people who are now my size.

After all was said and done, I was a whopping 339 lbs...whatever that is in kilos (ahh, 154.0 kg)...now I'm 243 lbs (110 kg), two years later, but am still big as a house (Size 22)!!!

On the plus side:
I can run 3 km, or walk/jog 5km. Sometimes I'll hike the trails out back (we're backed up to state land) and I'll do up to 10k (but have a break halfway through for 20 mins or so). I could probably run longer if my skin didn't hurt so bad *flop flop flop* ing as I run. I do this every evening, rain or shine, for some peace and quiet. sometimes with the dogs, sometimes without.

Three days a week I was collecting 2500+ eggs in 2.5 hours at an organic, free range chicken farm, hauling 15kg crates of eggs over rough native brushy paddocks, into the car and then from the car into the shed. I had to quit this week because I kept getting infected from the chicky poo because of the immune system suppresant I'm on.

Then I take care of all the critters, plus do all the cooking, cleaning and yard maintenance (and scooping out the paddocks for an hour twice a week).

I spend about 1 1/2 hours 3-4 days a week doing groundwork, lunging, or hand leading Gypsy through the pasture (do a terrain view in google maps at -34.409034,150.258282, I usually walk the fenceline of the east pasture). Most days will follow that with 20 minutes of ridden walking.

Oh yah...and then there's work...I'm a full time pet sitter/ dog walker.

So I think I'm pretty fit for an old, sick, fat chick.

Bad Points:

I'm always tired, stressed, overwhelmed and want to cry (propbably from eating poorly). What do you eat in a day, if you don't mind my asking StElmo?

I eat from stress, and there's been a fair bit of that lately. Need to learn how to say NO (I don't say no to people, get stressed out/overwhelmed and eat) and learn how to confront things I don't like in a constructive manner instead of just going away with hurt feelings to some cake. I suppose learning to deal with that properly would be the biggest help.

I'm still losing slowly, but would pick it up if I'd eat well. (I can eat up to 5,000 calories a day and still lose 1/2 lb a week during a busy week). I've been thinking of just going in for a lap band and getting it over with. Or maybe my jaws wired shut. :o If I did, in six months I could be a far more tolerable weight for Gypsy. It's taking soooooo loooooong to get normal again! :(

1st foal
20-12-09, 02:16 PM
Oh Caille, you have my deepest sympathies. My ex-husband was on high doses of prednisolone (including 3 days in hospital gettig it via IV) and he had severe side effects (psychotic episodes, weight gain, sudden rage etc). I think it was a major contributor to him falling off the wagon after 7 years sober, it totally altered his brain.

After the 1st pschotic episode (he punched holes in the walls to get to the "people" in there who were talking about him!!!!) we went straight to the doc and they started to wean him off the pred. Because he was on such a high dosage, this took almost 6 months!!! Apparently, that was the safest way to withdraw from it, otherwise it could kill him.

But the damage was done. 6'2" and 120kgs of angry, drunk and psychotic man.... It is a horrible drug. 2 female relatives of mine have also had to take it (much smaller dosages, just for a few weeks). Both of them said they suffered irrational mood swings, my Mum even hallucinated emails which she actually replied to!!! A lot of confused friends:) so I totally agree with you. It is a horrible drug and I feel for you more, because you must have some condition which is even more horrible for you to have to take it!

Anyway, good on you for considering your horse's welfare. There have been some good hoof tips here, and with regard to weight, as long as you are a balanced rider with a good position you shouldn't be too hard for your horse to carry. At least you are aware of it and not blaming the horse.

Keep up the good work fitness wise, and as for diet - maybe start with one thing a week (ie, this week I will replace soft drink/juice with water at least 50% of the time; or this week I will eat wholegrain toast + poached egg +tomato and spinach for at least 3 breakfasts (my favourite and good for weight loss); or this week I will drink a glass of water every time I feel hungry, then eat (should reduce portion size). Just a suggestion (saw it on Dr Phil :D) and seems to be easier to just modify one thing than suddenly switch to grapefruit! Good luck.

20-12-09, 03:00 PM
Hi again, Caille....
First up, I'm not a nutritionist, so don't take this as "Personal professional advice", but just what works for me.
You asked what I ate.... well, for breakfast, I like Vogel's Ultra Bran - maybe about a cup - and on top of that, I put natural almonds (which I roast myself by the bagful, for 25 min. in a moderate oven), cut up dried Turkish apricots and prunes, sultanas and sometimes some craisins as well, or half a banana. Top it with low fat milk or soy milk. Then a cup of Twinings Russian Caravan tea, black, no sugar. Then I go and do all the outside jobs.

On my running mornings, I run before breakfast, because I can't run on a full tummy. Or what seems like a full tummy. I run a minimum of 10km, non-stop, every second day.

When I come back in after doing the horses, the barn, riding Elmo, naturally I'm hungry! So it's morning tea, or breakfast # 2. That might be a roll, with Dairy Soft and something nice inside, like tomato, or peanut butter or left-over something from last night's dinner. Then a piece of fruit and another cup of tea.

I drink water all the time, and cart a bottle outside with me, so I can make an effort not to get dehydrated, which is a bit of a habit of mine, and not good.

I sometimes have something "bad" for a snack, like a croissant, or a piece of slice or cake - always home-made, to minimise additives, and because I like cooking. But I also get through an extraordinary amount of nuts and dried fruit. They're good for you, and the fruit will give you plenty of fibre for the plumbing system, and also something sweet, if you're hankering after that taste.

Sometimes the "second breakfast" snack is too close to lunch time, so I let it be an early lunch, and then have another snack later on. Drinking regular sips or small glasses of water is very good for you - it stops you getting dehydrated, and also helps you to feel more full, like 1st Foal mentioned.

I like fresh fruit and salads, so am always keen to eat those.
For dinner at night, I tend to buy skinless chicken breasts, premium beef mince, diced beef and fish/seafood. But we might have a couple of days a week with no meat at all. I might do a slow-cooked combo of vegies, moistened enough to be like a chunky sauce, to have on pasta or rice. My OH likes my poached chicken breasts, which I pull apart into smallish pieces and have with vegies or salad - sometimes with a dressing, mustard or a relish. I buy low-fat mayo, and often make it more runny by adding a little verjuice, white wine, white vinegar, or even water. Some dishes are better with a more runny dressing.

I like casseroles - not much fat in those, and a long slow cook means you get it started early, and it looks after itself while you're doing the jobs. I make little meatballs by adding some fresh breadcrumbs and an egg, and thoroughly mushing that through the mince, with seasoning etc, then I put portions into greased muffin trays and bake them - no oil required except for greasing, and the sides keep the little guys moist.

We love jacket potatoes, and you don't have to swamp them in butter to make them taste good.

The fish, I dip lightly in flour and shallow fry, then make sure I drain it well on paper towels before plating up. People can be paranoid about fried food - a little oil is good for you.

I steam a lot of our vegies, or part-cook them, then spray with a little olive oil and bake them in the oven.

Desserts. I love rich desserts! But I only have a small portion! We eat a lot of fresh fruit - bananas, mangoes (drool!), strawberries, or the good old apples - baked, stuffed with more dried fruit and a blob of honey. A little bit of ice cream - doesn't do to deprive yourself - but only a little bit. I adore Portuguese custard tarts, but only make them for a treat, because slimming, they ain't!

Every time I'm hungry, I drink water - a big jug full of iced water with lemon juice and lemon slices in it will keep all day in the fridge - or tackle more dried or fresh fruit.

I guess I'm lucky in that I don't need food as a comfort thing when I get stressed. I have remarkably low blood pressure, and the Blood Bank ladies tell me I'm "remarkably unstressed"! If I need "comfort" I make a cup of tea, and have lots of nuts!

I probably have a few more things during the day, but if you don't buy "bad" foods, they aren't there to tempt you. I never drink fizzy drinks, and rarely even mineral water. I usually have ONE glass of white wine with dinner at night - never more. I rather like soy milk, so often have a shake with that.

You're getting a fantastic amount of exercise, and I can tell that your unwanted weight is mainly due to medical/health issues. I'm no professional trainer, but I'd stay right away from gastric banding surgery. I've read of lots of problems resulting from it. I guess I'm very fortunate, in that I have no health issues, am a regular blood donor, 177cm tall, weigh 55kg, and have a BMI of 17. So I probably look a bit like a greyhound!

Re your walking/jogging, I understand the part about your skin getting stressed.... a good support bra system is essential. A gym instructor who was very well endowed told me she used to wear a good encapsulating underwired support bra, then a crop top compression type bra over the top, and that helped a lot. People say good sports bra items are expensive, but I think they'd be a good investment for health and comfort. You sound really determined to get on top of everything, so all the very best of luck. Having Gypsy is something to aspire to as well... to be able to ride like the rest of us, not just walking quietly about.
Big hugs!

20-12-09, 03:43 PM
wow, I'm feeling like a slug! I don't do a quarter of the exercise you guys do....I think I'm fortunate to have good, weight losing, genes. I've not really altered in weight since I was a teenager.... always around the 50 - 54 kilo mark and I'm around 5ft 5in.... I do keep busy with horse chores and walk a bit, but nothing like the kind of exercise you two are doing.... makes me feel very lazy indeed.
I think being a vegitarian helps me keep my weight level, but I do pig out on chocolate and cake at times...
Feeling inspired by your posts though., so will make a concerted effort to do more walking.
I really feel for those with medication related weight issues...just so unfair...and Caillie, you sound very caring and not self obsessed by your own problems which would be totally understandable given the circumstances, but no, you are worried about your husband and your horse...I aplaud you and really wish you well.

20-12-09, 04:15 PM
Excellent post StEF. A couple of really key things in there - don't buy the bad stuff and then you're less tempted, drinking lots of water and having fruit/nut snacks all the time.

Good Luck Caille, I'm impressed how much excercise you already do!!

20-12-09, 06:04 PM
I'm always tired, stressed, overwhelmed and want to cry (propbably from eating poorly).

This is key. If you are tired, stressed and feeling down the weight is not going to come off. You need sleep, good proper healthy restful sleep. Your body repairs itself while you are sleeping and if you aren't sleeping right you aren't giving yourself the chance to mend. Go with a girlfriend for a spa day and forget about the rest of the world, or get a good book and drive to the beach, or take a day and go shopping or sight seeing or whatever you want to do. That day is for you and you alone. Being stressed and tired is not going to help you shift the pounds.

I really can't talk about being overweight given that my normal weight range is probably on the dangerously unhealthy underweight side of things. When I am working and riding 6-10 horses a day I am normally around the 45kg mark and I'm 5'6. However I did put on weight in my first three months in Portugal (bread, jam, cheese and rice was the main component of my diet) and I felt heavy even though I was still only 60kg. It made me want to eat more and it made me feel even more depressed so I can understand where you are coming from to a certain extent.

Keep going with the exercise, heck you do a lot more than I do at the moment! If you do get a pedometer you will be majorly surprised at how much you are actually walking. When I was teaching in a riding school I was walking up to 20km a day just doing laps around the arena chasing lazy school ponies. Walking and looking after animals, I bet you are getting a lot of exercise from that.

The food is the hardest part, as mentioned before, don't buy the crappy fatty foods to begin with, don't go shopping when you are hungry.

If you are hungry, have a drink instead.
If you are still hungry, eat a piece of fruit or some other healthy sort of snack.
You WILL get sugar/fat withdrawals.
You WILL be moody and grumpy and desperate to eat something bad for about a week.
But once your body realises it doesn't need those foods you will feel a lot better.

Only weigh yourself once a week at the most.

Eating small meals regularly will boost your metabolism, and don't eat for at least two hours before you go to bed.

Surgery should be an absolute last resort!

20-12-09, 06:30 PM
I rode a horse, well pony, all last week at camp who is known to be a little hard to control so if there isn't a good enough rider on camp, the supervisors get to ride her. She is about 19 now, fast as a bullet, excellent sporting horse, and fat as a house. Was going down a hill, my feet were about 10cm off the ground when I took my feet out of my stirrups.
She had no problem carrying me at all. I am 62kgs and 160cm tall.
It really depends on the horse. I would not get on a fine built pony, but a heavier built pony, no worries mate.....
I occassionally get on the shetland for a laugh. She is more than happy to canter around or over small jump carrying me.
Its not always the rider, its the horse as well. A larger person (such as myself) would not get on a fancy little show pony with a finely built body and jump a 2 foot course....

I don't think it would be related re. Rider weight and hoof issues. I would have thought it would have been more leg/knee issues.
As the others have said, trust your farrier and your instructor. :)

20-12-09, 09:45 PM
Dear Caille,
well done you,
for getting up, getting out, and getting on.
who was it said
'there is nothing so good for the inside of a man (or woman) as the outside of a horse.
fix his feet and get out there, you need pony time.
and perhaps some peace of spirit will find you out there

21-12-09, 06:35 AM
Thank you so much, everyone! I really appreciate the support and wonderful thoughts and advice...all stuff I know but have "forgotten" about getting bogged down with everything else in life. Was like a life raft :) *NOW* I can make a plan, do it, and feel better. :D

Mick has made it through surgery well and much to his chagrin, they are going to keep him a couple days to get more IV antibiotics through him and make sure he behaves himself. Being the typical male, he got crabby to the point of seeming to have lost the plot instead of admitting something was wrong until it was massively infected and he was going septic. The docs AND the nurses had many loooooong "talks" with him about WHEN he needs to get to the hospital (and it's NOT when he's got a 40+ fever and can't fight his wife to get him into the car anymore!). He'll be home for Christmas, thankfully!!! That is SUCH a huge relief knowing he's gonna be ok now :) His Dad's currently in Wollongong hospital too in C7, and should be out for Chrissy as well. Dad's MUCH better and is now making sure Mick's behaving himself! His parents and brothers live a 12 minute drive from Wollongong hospital, so he's safe in there and will have no choice but to do what he needs to to get better! (MWAHAHAHAHA! Sorry, couldn't resist the maniachal laugh)