The ponies got their Christmas present last night.
One problem with being home so much with nothing to do in the middle of the night on my one night a week off is that I spend way too much time watching Youtube. Thus, I ended up ordering a couple sets of Sure Foot pads.
It's something that I've been interested in for a while. The idea is that the horses stand on the pads, which are available in different levels of firmness and flat or slanted, and that they receive some kind of benefit from it. It could be fascial release, or working their intrinsic balance muscles as a human would if standing on a bosu ball or balance board, or by having their feet stimulated because the pads press up into their feet, which allows them to feel the ground (or something like that). It's not fully understood how it works on the horse but supposedly some benefits can often been seen very quickly.
|Shiny and new. That didn't last for long.
I ordered the firm flat pads and hard slants, which are considered to be a good place to start. There is a practitioner in my area who sells the pads but she only had one of the sets I was looking for available, so I ended up ordered them online through the TTouch website. There was something else on their site that I wanted so I wasn't too put out by having to order online. Full props to their service - I ordered the pads at about 9am, and by noon I had my shipping notice.
On the day that the pads were due to arrive I started to think about my visit to the barn and how I would use them and realized that Phantom had had borium added to her shoes the day before. D'oh! I didn't want that borium to rip up my new (expensive) pads. After an inquiry on a Facebook page I made "blankets" out of craft foam and gorilla tape to protect the pads. Seemed to work and was pretty cheap.
How did the horses respond?
I wasn't sure how Cisco would take to them. The first couple of times I placed his front foot on the pad he stepped off pretty quickly without really putting his full weight on it. On the third attempt, he stepped down, and stayed there for a minute or so. He seemed a bit surprised and really inspected the pad with his nose after stepping off. When I added the second front pad he immediately stepped down on it.
Cisco is not a horse who blatantly shows releases so I didn't really see any big signs of it. There was lots of looking back at his sides, with kind of a "what is going on back there?" look.
What did indicate that he liked the pads was that when we went for a walk after he stepped on the pads he very deliberately stopped when we got back to the pads, which he did more than once. I thought that was interesting.
I tried the slants on his back feet, but he was a little more unsure about them. He stepped onto the left hind once, but after that would only put his toe on it. We'll work on that, and play with what pad I try back there.
I was pretty sure that Phantom would have no issue with standing on the pads, and sure enough, within a few short minutes I had her standing on the flat pads in front and the slants behind.
Within a few seconds of standing on all four pads, Phantom let out four huge yawns, and another yawn a few seconds later. A huge release. I think I saw a couple of small sways in her body also.
She didn't really want to stand on the pads for too long - maybe a minute and half before getting off. And I kind of got the impression that after that attempt with the big release she was done with them. The fact that she was eagerly anticipating dinner probably didn't help.
I can't say that I noticed a difference in how the horses physically moved after standing on the pads, but we were just in the aisle of the barn so it was hard to tell. Cisco walked with his head a bit lower and Phantom was walking out nicely with her front legs but I can't say that it was because of the pads. However, they definitely didn't dislike them.
I can't wait to try them while under saddle. It will be interesting to see if I feel a difference in how the horse feels. I know how much myofascial release (aka the foam roller) works for me, hopefully these do something similar for the ponies.