Miracle Boots, More Of The Story

Riding Journal

Awareness of the outside world. Today is World Health Day. Gotta admit, every day has felt like world health day for a while now.

More on Milton & his vast improvement with boots. I split this over two posts, because I can’t even.

I’ve never seen or heard anything like this. I have no idea how much of an improvement this will turn out to be in the long run, nor how long any gains will last.

Here is the weirdness for the moment.

Other Horses
I’m all for horses wearing boots. As evidenced by the fact that I was able to dig up half a dozen pairs without upending the tack box. This is also evidence of the fact that I never throw anything away, but that’s a different issue.

All of my horses have worn boots to jump. Mostly front boots. Previous Horse wore hind boots as well. None of them seemed to care one way or the other. Boots. No boots. Meh. It was a requirement I imposed to theoretically protect them from whacking themselves while jumping. I’ve never had a horse who wore boots on the flat, or as a matter of course.

One of the Saddlebreds goes in hind boots. If he wears his boots, he’s a little happier in the canter and around the corners. You can tell. But it’s not a huge deal. It’s not night and day. Not like Milton.

Neither Milton nor Rodney ever jumped high enough to trigger the boot requirement. Roscoe (the name Rodney arrived with) must have worn boots but that data has been repressed lost in the mists of time. Milton was edging toward bootage, but I wasn’t motivated to buy boots for a horse who was only jumping anthills.

Trying an old pair might have occurred to me if we had started down that road. Not jumping. No need for boots. Right?

Silly me.

Milton History
Since the Virtual Tevis, my husband has been riding Milton. They seem to get along. At least he (the husband) doesn’t look at him (the horse) and tear his hair (either husband or horse) out in frustration and despair. Unlike some people.

A week ago, he (the husband) asked if I had back boots we could try on Milton. There was occasional tripping. Perhaps Milton was interfering with his hinds. I thought any tripping had more to do with long toes and the shoeing schedule, but was happy to oblige. Found. Tried. Mild improvement. We were pleased.

Were these front boots? Did I have other back boots we could try? Sure.

In finding a second set of back boots, I found the red front boots. Washed them. Tried.

Heavens parted.

Seriously. You could see it in the way Milton walked. The look in his eye. He strolled around as a content and happy pony. They had been having trouble with canter transitions. Lots of asking on the part of the rider. Lots of trotting around ignoring the rider on the part of the horse. Wearing boots, Milton repeatedly picked up a cute little canter as soon as he was asked.

This whole thing was a total accident. We only tried the front boots because I found them in the pile.

We had no indication.

No hint.

There has not been the slightest ding or scratch or dent on his front legs. He doesn’t move in a way that would indicate any interference.

No hint. None.

We would have done something years go.

Long time readers of the blog will know we have tried everything we could think of. Feed changes. Mid-day naps. Supplements. Body work. Lab tests.

We knew we had not figured Milton out. It was a recurring topic of conversation around here.

For one thing, he was never happy. Previous Horse was a grumpy old man the day he was foaled. Despite being a cranky curmudgeon, he spent the majority of his life in a good mood, only expressing discontent when the world was not as he deemed it should be.

I’ll grant Milton attitude around mealtimes. That seems to be a racehorse thing. But he never seemed happy the rest of the time either.

Boots. Who knew. Well, Milton, but he wasn’t saying.

This is deeply weird. Deeply. But not out of character.

Milton doesn’t like to be touched. This is more of an issue with his torso than his legs, but perhaps his skin as a whole is more sensitive to the slings and arrows that beset a horse of delicate disposition.

Milton has been know to react in a … um … disproportionate manner. One time, he objected to the fit of his new shoes. This was not an abscess, not a close nail, just shoes that were a wee bit tight. He acted as if his front hooves were welded to the ground.

As long as I completely failed to turned Milton into a stellar event horse, I’ve felt a sense of disapproval trickling down from the north. I sent you a nice horse, what did you do wrong? What if we were talking about two different horses? On the off chance, we asked about Milton’s test ride. Was he, by any chance, wearing boots? Why, yes he was.


We also found out that in Canada, Milton was schooling 2′ 9″ on cross-country. Two! Foot! Nine! Inches! I’ve had to jolly him around classes where all the jumps put together didn’t add up to 2′ 9″.

Canada, boots; Alabama, no boots.

Again, hmm.

In Conclusion
I have no explanation. It could be a trick of the light. We could want change so badly that we are imagining change. The whole new attitude could go up in a puff of vapor tomorrow. I don’t think so. It has the feel of ‘Finally, the minions got it right.’

Wonderful if it lasts. At the moment, I am dumbfounded.

Stay safe. Stay sane.

7 thoughts on “Miracle Boots, More Of The Story

  1. Glad you stumbled on this and I hope it lasts. Living breathing creatures are strange…… Not on the same line but also a little bit of who knew – one of my dogs was an inconsistent performer, I was never 100% sure of who he would be – though he did the job. I was using a variety of treats and he appeared to love them all (left over meat from the fire house of all varieties, stuff from home etc.) Something, I don’t remember what, made me wonder (years in) and I switched to 100% string cheese and all of a sudden I had a consistent and faster performer for the rest of his life. Weird.

    1. Learning another’s comfort zone is a fascinating process whether they be human, horse, dog or other but so rewarding when it clicks. String cheese! Who knew?

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