After discussing places to visit the previous night with the rest of the barefoot course people, it was decided that the Valley of Desolation was a must see on the agenda. As I had not seen this yet Donalyn (Rosemary's daughter) drove Martha and I out into the reserve and up the mountain to the view point at about 7am so that we would be back in time for breakfast. En route through the reserve it gave me a chance to see more animals not commonly seen within Britain. Ostrich, Eland, Kudo, Springbuk can now all be ticked off as being seen on my animal checklist but still no Zebra! Despite the wind, we had a spectacular view from the top of the Valley of Desolation and the town of Graaff-Reinet. It was quite a view from the top and Donalyn pointed to the various names of the hills and mountains which we could see. We went to the two different viewing spots to see all around and we did end up being late for breakfast, oops!
Day 2 of the barefoot course started off with looking at the anatomy of the hoof with Laura. Laura had real hooves for us to view and show the structure of, including a zebra foot to compare. Laura explained how the internal structure of the foot worked in weight baring of the animal as it moved. The hooves were from past Perseverance endurance horses. One of the hooves was from a horse called Rumba and showed how calcification had formed on the bone, which had resulted in ringbone. It was interesting to compare Rumba's hoof with that of Emmie who had not suffered with ringbone and the difference in the size of bone due to the calcification which had formed.
After our talk with Laura we went out to the yard where Bob gave us a talk and demonstration on maintence and trimming of the barefoot horse. It was interesting to see that these horses needed minimal work done on their feet due to the natural wearing of walking across this terrain for both the broodmare and the endurance horse which is worked. The hoof is natural worn down so Bob only needed to trim the bars and trim the toe. The Strausser trim is used/ modified to suit these horses. Bob has had the farrier training as well as been to workshops with Dr. Strausser so knows exactly how to trim the hoof to the best advantage for the horse.
In the afternoon Laura discussed conditioning programmes and exercise methods. The horses at Perseverance all have large camps to roam around which is a natural way for the horse to be. Horses are not stabled at all here due to it being far better for the horse to roam than be stuck inside on soft bedding and the hooves being affected by the ammonia that soaks into the bed from urine and manure. These horses are exposed daily to the conditions that they are expected to ride on, which allows them to be prepared mentally and physical right from birth. As previously mentioned in one of my blogs the horses under go the Kikkuli method of testing their abilities before they under go the fitness program. The Kikkuli method is a 3000 year old fitness program which was used to train warhorses. The initial test lasts for 4 days, testing the horse mentally and physically to see if it will be of capability for endurance or originally as a war horse. After a horse passes this initial test there is a 7 month Kikkuli training program which is what is used at Perseverance. I had the chance to see this test in action a week ago when I rode Nile on the initial test and it definitely does what it is supposed to of testing the horse's mentality and physically via their soundness.
After our talk about conditioning their was the chance to go and see the stallions and colts in their camp, as they had not been seen on our previous visit.
In the evening Laura gave us a talk on the nutrition of the horse. Here the horses are kept as naturally as possible and are not fed GM feeds or high sugar feeds, which can leave the horse tenderfooted. Perseverance do not believe in using fatty oils as it can lower the metabolism leaving a fat and lazy horse. Coconut oil is given to the endurance horses as it is easy to digest, a highly useable source of energy, speeds up metabolism and helps in the prevention of cancer. The horses here get fed a coconut cake containing this oil alongside oats and barley, which does not leave the horses feeling hyper and 'fizzy'. These horses are fed first thing in the morning and then straight after exercise as studies have shown that the first hour after exercise is the best time in which to replace the glycogen lost from the exercise. These horses are only fed supplements in which are lacking within this area; zinc, copper, selenium and magnesium.
After our talk and dinner we had free chance to sit around and chat before bed. During this time Donalyn and I took a trip out along the road to the reserve to try and spot some zebra. The zebra often are best since in the evening or early morning. We were in luck!!! We saw at least three zebra on our outing. Although they were not close I can at least say I HAVE NOW SEEN A ZEBRA!!!!! Tick off the checklist!
The third day of the workshop gives everyone a chance to ride the horse in the Perseverance way; "Barefoot and Bitless". I took out Liberty, the previous day she had come in with a slight swelling which had gone day the morning. I was to try her and see how she was as Jeffereys Bay is the following weekend and Fauresmith in 2 weeks. Although feeling sound she is still sore so it is now debateable whether she will be my mount for Fauresmith.......
Everyone enjoyed their outing on these horses and that was to be the end of the Barefoot workshop, with people then departing. That afternoon the Perseverance family spent the rest of their Sunday relaxed in front of the big screen watching various movies, or falling asleep.
Monday and the start of the Panacur worming programme for the broodmares and the rest of the foals still at foot. Needless to say I probably have a few more bruises and panacur down across my clothes thanks to those who decided to not be easy.
Obelix is due to be backed now, so Bob left it with me to desensitize him. So I spent over an hour patting him all over, jumping up and down next to him and getting him used to having a person around. He has a wonderful temperament and talk it all in his stride. Bob backs his horses bareback so I got the chance to lie across Obelix and get him used to my weight. Bob then jumped on and proceeded to walk around with him. Obelix was not at all phased by any of this, so not bad for his first day of starting to be ridden!
That afternoon I was supposed to ride out with Ashley on Rafiki but once in trot and I did not feel that Rafiki was 100%. Ashley went on whilst I walked a very jolly Rafiki back. The only thing in his foot was a stone so this was probably the cause and he'll be fine I suspect by tomorrow.