A Testimonial for Barefooted Horses and Old Macs hoof boots
Rev. C. Scott Kroeger, now
sold on barefooted horses and Old Macs boots,
and organizer of the Strasser DownUnder clinics in January, 2002.
Scott Kroeger, an Australian, posted about some of his experiences on the naturalhorsetrim list on a really challenging ride. Despite the initial scepticism of the professional cowboys on this ride, his barefooted horse actually out-performed their shod horses.
He occasionally used Old Macs boots, and also loaned them to another rider whose horse threw a shoe. They performed well in rugged terrain. Just about everyone I have heard from agrees with Scott that these boots stay on well.
If barefootedness and Old Macs can work in such hardcore applications, surely we can hope to condition our horses for shorter rides without resorting to iron horseshoes!
Unfortunately, Scott was kicked in the head by another horse near the end of the ride, but I am glad to report that he is recovering well. The latter part of the post (re the accident) has been shortened somewhat.
|Rev. C. Scott Kroeger firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Mon Oct 29, 2001 9:12 pm
Subject: My Adventures
Thanks to all of you who sent me cards and emails after my accident. Let me fill you in on my adventures...
For the past 12 years I have the privilege to go on an annual week's ride in the high country of Australia's Snowy Mountains. Some 8-10 blokes go up where people never go, and camp out, fish and chase wild horses (we call them brumbies down here). It is a week that I live all year for.
This is the first year that my horse Gunman went up there barefoot. Now you have to understand that these blokes up there are professional cattlemen who live and work in the saddle. They have forgotten more about horses than I'll ever know. But to a man, they said my horse would not last even a day. I took along some Old Mac boots (borrowed from Ysabelle Hobson-with many thanks) just as a backup, but I didn't think he would need them as we had trained hard over the past year on gravel, rocks and bitumen road.
A few years back they started a contest for "The Horse of the Year" given to the horse that goes the best over the whole week. A day's ride would be anywhere from 6-10 hours depending on the weather and terrain. Massive climbs and descents have left many with grey hair or loss of it completely. Saddle cruppers and breastplates are needed just to keep the saddle on your horse. The rules for the contest are simple: You have to ride every day and complete every ride, or you are out. If you are thrown or fall from your horse, you are out. If your horse fails to perform or go where and when asked, you're out. The sole judge is our host and professional cattleman and horse trainer, Glen Symons (who has trained polo ponies for Prince Charles). The goal is not to have an impossible trip for a horse...but to have a lot of fun and reward the best horse over the week.
Here is how the week went:
On the way back, one of my mates had a shoe come off her front foot. They were going to walk back...so I pulled out the Old Macs and said, "Here, try these!" I fitted them to the mare and told him to walk the mare around to get her used to them. He led her in a small circle and then hopped in the saddle. It was as if she had worn them all her life. These grizzled old men shook their heads in disbelief. My mate has committed himself to buying a set of Old Macs (Dave M.--you owe me on this one, buddy). Gunman did great...but they said he wouldn't last the week.
We had morning tea at the bottom, in the river sand. Gunman seemed uncomfortable in it and started pawing the ground. It was all that was needed for the "experts" to say he was footsore and done. I took him over to the river for a drink and a stand in the flowing water and then we all mounted up. An hour later, with Gunman leading, he started trailing a mob of horses. He is like a bloodhound...nose to the ground, he headed off. The mob broke off the trail we were on and had headed up a small draw when 3 juvenile stallions come up on our six-o'clock...following the herd. Clinton and I gave chase for five or six minutes down the river's edge, over rocks and trees, streams and boulders...letting Gunman have his head and pick his own course. Me, I'm just looking out for branches, and keeping the stallions in sight. But they are fresh and in fine condition and no match for our mounted and tuckered out ponies...so they gave us the slip. But, ohhh, what a ride. It takes several minutes for my heart to slow down. Footsore? Not my horse...as everyone of them watched him bolt out under the spur. Most everybody knows by this time who the trophy is going to. But there is some dissent, still.
Well, there was a wild party that night at the camp (which I give you my word I did not overly participate in) and I slept a sound and peaceful night ready to return to Melbourne the next day. Long before the trophy was awarded, I told them all that I had come to prove something with a barefoot horse...and win, lose or draw for that trophy...I had proved that point...Gunman was barefoot and sound.
[From post on October 31, 2001]--
I woke the next morning from a contented sleep that
finalized a wonderful week of horse riding in places where God only allows a few people at
a time to go. The Snowy Mountains are breathtaking and we were now breathless and
exhausted...but with smiles. Gunman had won the "Best Horse of the Year" Trophy
and the day looked to be a leisurely departing of camp for the long drive home.
In the hospital in Cooma the triage nurse took great care
of me, starting with a morphine injection...everything was fine after that. They took
X-rays and came back with the bad news. That stupid horse had issued a kick to my face
that broke my cheek bone and eye socket in 4 places. What used to be my nose just a flat
piece of skin. They were very worried about my losing my eye, but so far, I was still
seeing out of both of them.
Scott is a Chaplain at the Royal Melbourne Institute of
Technology University. Nancy works as a bookkeeper at the Ridley College bookstore.
Come see our NEW family Webpage:
[Moderator--thanks for the inspiring post!]
Old Macs--one of the better ready-made hoof boot options
(Available in 9 sizes, stay on well, adjustable, good traction and
less likely to come off than most ready-made
hoof boot options. Excellent traction and
concussion absorption; designed for riding. Available in 9 sizes, somewhat
adjustable. One of the better ready-made hoof boot options available.
The Old Macs company was recently sold to Easy Care; available in many tack
shops. However, these boots run wide, and short from front to back for
many horses. They do sell shims to fill the sides for narrow-footed
horses. While this is a help, it is not the real answer to the problem.
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