Yesterday morning Kristiina, who owns Kira and manages the barn, took us (Lilo, Melissa, my two dogs and me) on an introductory tour of the forest. There are lots of trails and although she has made a map of them all, it was good to have a guide when we ventured out for the first time. Also, Little Love was definitely calmer with Kira leading the way.
The trail was literally a small path in the forest. Little Love is not a big fan of narrow paths, as she gets uncomfortable when branches and other vegetation touch her behind. Maybe it's some form of claustrophobia or perhaps it reminds her of something that happened long time ago. It was also fairly warm and the bugs were out. But, considering all that, Little Love did extremely well in the forest. Given, she wanted to be as close as possible to Kira, which made it a tad challenging for me, since I was walking, too. We managed some sort of balance, although there were moments when I was taking the "off road" route next to the path...
Twenty minutes later we popped out of the forest onto a narrow dirt road. Little Love was pleased and since she has such a long stride, she took the lead confidently, leaving Kira to trail behind. The dirt road definitely worked better for me, too, since now we could walk side by side without a problem. I will need to practice walking together on the path, so that I can walk ahead safely, instead of having to scramble on the side. I was very proud of Lilo, though, as she crossed two small bridges without even blinking an eye! She also figured out how to walk with her boots on around rocks and roots, although a she stumbled a few times with her front feet; the boots are sort of bulky and probably don't give her the feeling she needs to have the precision needed in the forest.
We walked back to the barn in 20 minutes, every now and then stopping for some grass. As we passed several Ys in the road, Kristiina told us where they all lead to, so that we could go explore on our own as well. She also said Melissa and I could take Kira with us any time. This is great news, since I know how much more comfortable Lilo will be in the beginning if another horse goes with us. I'm really looking forwards to exploring the trails; it looks like you can go on for hours!
Little Love was definitely tired when we got back to the barn. She hasn't walked that long in one go since I walked her in Germany two and a half weeks ago (seems like a lifetime ago!). She still looks fairly skinny and I talked to Kristiina about maybe giving her some more hay as well as the "müsli" (grain). The bugs are so relentless this time of the year that the horses tend to be moving all the time, which means Little Love isn't prone to gain much weight. I have been putting on her fly mask for the past few days and despite all the trees she rubs herself on, it has stayed on her head. The mask helps her so much, since she gets really upset when the horse flies go at her head. I'm happy a friend of mine gave us some fly spray that actually works, looks like Lilo has the least amount of bugs on her out of the three horses!
Tonight when I went to the barn, it was still really hot and muggy. All horses were in the pasture, which is great, since that means Little Love is eating grass as well. When I took her out of the paddock, though, I was sort of shocked to see her feet. Her hooves have not been in the greatest shape, but now they were absolutely thrashed as if she had run a marathon on them in the past 24 hours. Even the back hooves that looked semi-decent were torn on the edges. Kristiina's daughter showed up to feed and she told me that the horses were running around last night because of the bugs. The ground is really hard and dry, so it looks like Lilo's hooves took a beating. Yikes. I think I need to start keeping boots on her all the time for the time being if I want her to have any hooves left to stand on. She didn't seem too bothered by the state of her feet. I put her in her stall and once she settled down a bit, managed to soak her left front for exactly 13 minutes. It's a start, but obviously not enough. Soaking is going to be a challenge, as she needs to stand still. Because of the bugs, the only place where this is possible is in the stable, but she still doesn't feel so comfortable in there, even when the horses are inside.
I have connected with a trimmer I trust, now we just have to figure out when she can come as she has quite a drive to get to where we are at (but she is willing to do it, which makes me happy!). I'll be gone a few days in Switzerland next week (tying off some loose ends, so to say), but perhaps the week after that. If I can keep the boots on her feet for a week, maybe there will be something to trim? Wishful thinking. Perhaps I could find something feed her that would make her feet grow faster...