“Hot Shoe” (part 3, final painting)

Cheri Isgreen:

Thought you would enjoy reading about the process. Remember, “No hoof, no horse.” See https://cheriisgreenfineart.wordpress.com for the whole story of painting this work.

Originally posted on Cheri Isgreen Fine Art:

The finished painting: “Hot Shoe.”

I originally thought the title  would be, “For a Good Time, Call Ed.” This is a reference to common graffiti found on a public bathroom wall.  For equestrians, the title is a double entendre meaning “no hoof, no horse.”  Ed is a master farrier.  I rely on him to not only keep my horse sound, but to maximize my horse’s movement.  He helps me to understand the structure of the foot, how the approach he will use translates to my horse’s comfort and way of travel, and how to solve the occasional problem that arises in the pasture or in training.  A farrier can make all the difference between an enjoyable ride and a disaster.  In fact, I found Ed as a result of a disaster from a previous “hoof expert.”)

"Hot Shoe"  copyright C Isgreen 2015 “Hot Shoe” copyright C Isgreen 2015

It is interesting the comments I received while this painting was a…

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New Research Cautions Against Sheath Cleaning

Have you ever wondered why we clean sheaths when horses in the wild seem quite healthy without this intrusion?  It turns out that smegma has antimicrobial properties.  As usual, the natural way is the best way, the way horses have evolved .  Read the research here:


A New Year Message from Pom ….

Cheri Isgreen:

Thank you, thank you, thank you Pom for your wise words. Happy New Year. I have applied for a scholarship to study on a more regular basis with my very gifted trainer this summer. I’ll start making more posts in the coming year, especially if I receive the grant. In the meantime, I will share your heartwarming post.

About cavaliereattitude

Englishwoman, transplanted to SW France in ’86, blogging – with a large dose of humour and self-deprecation – about life with my husband and our horses, the never-ending renovation of an ancient and crumbly stone farmhouse and the attempt to carve a beautiful garden and productive pasture out of a woodland wilderness………

Originally posted on Cavalière Attitude:


It’s a little known fact that we horses are great believers in New Year Resolutions.  Or at least Reflections.

Let’s face it.  We can realistically expect to celebrate far fewer New Years than you, our human counterparts.

So instead of going out partying or going to bed early pretending you don’t care, if you humans were to peek into the barn or the field shelter around midnight, you might find your horse and his or her companions mulling over the year past and thinking about what to make of the year ahead.

In smarter establishments than mine, elite athletes may be bragging about the cups they bagged in 2014 and the prizes they have in sight for upcoming seasons.  Some may be yawning – having heard it all before – quietly hoping their sore backs and tendons hold up another year.  Others may be apprehensive about a move away…

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You can be your own worst enemy

Cheri Isgreen:

This would be a good article to review for a New Year’s resolution, but it is so timely for me right now, as I work toward bringing my horse up the levels. Bookmark this awesome post!

Originally posted on Deanna Thompson Dressage:


This statement is true in many ways when you are working towards a challenging, perhaps intimidating goal. I see riders from time to time who are preventing their own progress. I admit that I too have been guilty of getting in my own way over the years.

“I’m too tired…”

“It’s too hot…”

“I will do it tomorrow…”

Without a doubt, riding horses in any discipline is one of the most difficult sports you can choose. It’s hard enough to trust your own mind and body to be at peak performance but when your partner is a 1,000+ pound animal with flight instincts, this sport is brought to a whole new level. Instead of categorizing riding as a sport, I’ve always thought that “art”, “passion” or “way of life” was more appropriate. I don’t think anyone would disagree that in order to truly advance, you must allow your purpose to…

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The key to dealing with the heat and keeping the horse interested in the training is introducing variety.  I can offer my horse variety without sacrificing his conditioning and training.  Today I set up cavaletti, based on the Klimke book of the same name.  I currently have Ingrid & Reiner’s book, which is a new edition of Reiner’s classic book.  The book is updated for jumping.  For my purposes, I wish I could find my old copy, as I want more directives for dressage.  This edition will still give you guidelines.  Cavaletti improves balance, muscle, and activity from the hind end.   It teaches the horse to relax his neck, arch his back, and seek contact.

I set up two grids, one for the walk and one for the trot.  Since Monarch knows about cavaletti and trains 2nd and 3rd level, I set up the maximum number of poles- 6.  If your horse is new to cavaletti, or is not in good shape, start with 1 pole and build from there.  The Klimkes give ballpark distances for each gate.  I made measuring sticks for Monarch’s gates based on suggested distances.  This made building cavaletti go more quickly.  As you can see, 3′ is Monarch’s walk distance, and his trot is 4’6″.  Having 2 measuring sticks makes the building of the grid even faster.  Mark the trot on one side and the walk on the other side.

measuring sticks

measuring sticks

building the grid

building the grid

My cavaletti were made from simple garden fence rails, about $1 each and scraps from fence posts.  The fence post scraps are 2′ – 3′ long, with 2 small wood scraps screwed into each post.  The distance between the scraps is the width of a rail.  The fit is quite snug, so if Monarch hits a rail, the cavaletti grid stays in tact, and he does not stumble on a loose rail.  Training can continue, as I do not have to unmount to reset the rail.  This set up is easy to build and easy to store.

walk grid

walk grid

Since I am short on posts, if I build both a walk grid and a trot grid, I set up the walk grid with alternating sides raised.  This keeps Monarch stepping high through the walk grid.   Because there is no moment of suspension in the walk, hence little impulsion, Monarch had a tougher time with the walk grid.  Because of his tendency to knock a rail in the walk grid, I will experiment with distances next time I set them up, to see if the issue is with the height of the grid or the distance between rails.  I suspect that 3′ may be a bit long for him now, and that we will need to work into that distance.  I am working to improve his walk, as he does not take big, free walk strides.    This summer through stretches  and training,  I have improved the walk, so that he now tracks up.  With concentration and diligence, I can encourage him to overtrack by 1/4 (and sometimes 1/2) of a hoof print.  I am hoping that the cavelleti will also help with this physical training.

trot grid

trot grid

The trot height and spacing was perfect.  Monarch produced a lively trot with much suspension and never knocked a rail.    The Klimkes recommend omitting a rail, so the horse learns to keep the rhythm and stride even when one rail is removed.  I liken that idea to removing the training wheels on a bicycle.  Because 6 is the maximum recommended number of  rails in a grid and one rail is omitted, this type of grid needs only 5 rails.

The cavelitti created a challenge for my horse, which kept his interest on a hot day of training.   After a thorough warm up, focusing on confirming rhythm, encouraging suppleness, and creating contact, we worked in the grid for about 25 minutes.  It’s best to quit when your horse is very smooth through the grids, before he gets bored, tired, and/or sore.  This work is much like pilates for the rider, so he is really using his abs to raise his back and thrust with his hind end.  Finish the ride with a good cool down on a loose rein, with lots of stretch and a long neck.