by angela fotheringham
Cooperdene and I were both green when we met, Cooper, a four year old Highland of impeccable breeding and endless showing faults was introduced to the wide world and his novice owner in 2000. (I say novice as I had just returned to riding after a 30 year lay off.) We enjoyed the thrills and spills of our first years and took up Endurance, which we both loved. Cooper took his Bronze award with a ridiculously low heart rate, and we looked forward to achieving the relatively difficult task of making it Silver the following year.
That year was his last. Out for a quiet hack, we strayed into a bog and he tore his Superficial Flexor Tendon. Despite all efforts the lameness became permanent. He was quite happy to munch away in the field although he did find it difficult to watch his owner start working a new horse, but time went on and things settled.
Two years ago Cooper began to get quite grumpy and as I watched him plod about, I came to the conclusion that he was unable to maneuver properly with his shoes on. I took the decision to take the shoes off despite the fact that he had been a bit of a baby about his tender toes all his life.
We never looked back. With the careful direction of my barefoot farrier, establishing a fairly basic Paradise Paddock, and supervision of a barefoot diet, Cooper became the happy pony he used to be, even to the extent that we can now take him out for quiet hacks. It is only 18 months ago but the transformation is complete, it takes dedication, proper feeding, and work but I can now trim both horses myself and if you don't believe a highland can smile... then look at the photos!
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