"When I was around twelve years old (now that's nearly thirty years
ago) I was given the use of an old reprobate named Lyrical Hal. "
Lyrrie wasn't a TB; he was a SB, but at 16.2 HH, you wouldn't have guessed it. He'd made his owner wads of money, enough to buy the Equestrian Centre where he was subsequently retired to. He was gelded at age ten, but hadn't seemed to notice, and was about fourteen when I was given him, because he was bored and causing trouble around the home paddock.
I don't think he'd ever been trained for riding. He had no idea at all what a bit was for. But we used to tear madly and happily around down on the beach.
Luckily the beach was an exceptionally long one because it took at least ten k to tire him out enough to turn him round once he was fit. Then he could run all the way back again.
Dunes were good - they slowed him down if I aimed him right.
was a race track nearby, and often racehorses out training on the
beach. The sight drove him crazy, and no other horse EVER got past
What I lacked in training knowledge I possessed in stickability - I could stick on his back like a fly on the ceiling. Good thing, because later, I started doing the round trip. North up the beach ten or twenty k, then cut through the dunes somewhere, and back along the grass and gravel verge of the road. Mostly at a canter or flat out gallop. I didn't like to let him pace, and walking wasn't really an option either of us often considered. All with trucks and buses whizzing and flapping by to the oil refinery up the road, and him leaping and dodging all the scary bogey men in his path.
I shudder to think of my children ever doing anything remotely like it.
Now here's the point of the story - all this was done barefoot - both him and me.
When he first arrived, my mother arranged a farrier to shoe him, but he cast a front within weeks. Called the farrier again, same thing again. My mum said "enough, bank's empty". I was happy about that.
During the time he was shod he'd managed to do a bit of damage, to his own front pasterns, my sisters horses heels (running over him to get past) and my best friend, who was sporting seven stitches in her shin from a kick he'd let fly at her horse while she was riding. Nice shiny new shoes slice like a knife, and frankly they scared me.
Lyrrie never had a lame day, and moved fearlessly and relentlessly over any flat terrain. I don't really know why his hooves were so hard, but too thin to hold shoes. I guess he'd been unshod during his four or so years of retirement, getting good care and living on sandy hills.
That was the start of my barefoot journey. I never shod any of my horses after Lyrrie. I had no idea we were doing anything strange or controversial. We were just doing what came naturally.
The horses I owned when I was young never needed much trimming because of the terrain and the way I used to ride. Later, when I slowed down somewhat, and moved to a wetter location, I had to take out the rasp from time to time to keep things in order, and once on an overgrown draught horse I bought, I had to use the tree pruners. Wish I'd known what I know now.
I wasn't aware of the barefoot movement until last year when I bought a horse that had been "barefoot trimmed"
since birth, and started doing some research. Now there's so much great new stuff to learn, and seven horses waiting out there in their little paddock for me to practice on.
I wonder how this story would have gone, if Lyrrie hadn't thrown his shoes. Last night I came across a photo of him running on the beach, and me trying to slow him down for the camera. Both of us barefoot and wild. Will post it if I can get it scanned.