She and I are just tired of this month of March. It has been wet and cold. Vanille's small pasture is at that “end of winter mud” stage. We were generously offered the enormous sheep pasture which is just horse heaven, but there were some dangerous areas with fencing and barbed wire on the ground. Some of the fencing was partially buried in the earth. It has taken quite a lot of work to pull up all the old fencing but luckily a strong friend did a lot of it, and then a magnificent tractor arrived with huge teeth attached to the front. That did the job in one afternoon. Now Vanille spends part of each day with lots of room to gallop, and wooly friends to keep her company. It has been fun to watch her kick up her heels and run with the sheep and new lambs.

With Jean François' help I have been studying pasture management and proper feeding of these heavy horses. Unlike most horses, the problem with Vanille is that she is easily too fat and that is dangerous. The internet has been an excellent source of information. Since she is not working at the moment, she has grass hay, a salt block, and plenty of fresh water, but she can only stay on the big pasture 4 hours a day. She also gets two big handfuls of Tourteau de Colza or Rapeseed meal in granules each morning, and carrots every day.

Here's a photo of her taken a few days ago. She has gone through the winter with only hay and the minimum grass in her small pasture. As you can see, she has not lost any weight. We have had a mild winter so she has been outside with no shelter. Hot weather is the most difficult for her. She never developed a heavy winter coat and is losing it already.

We had the blacksmith come to trim her hooves. It had been 3 1/2 months since her last trim. This is how they looked when he started.

And here's one nearly finished. Her hooves are in great condition and the walls are very thick and tough. This encouraged me to start studying shoe alternatives for the time we start travelling. Jean François has been doing lots of research and sharing information with me. He will be doing some trials with several new types of glue on shoes, plastic shoes, etc. I am amazed at all the new shoes and boots available. For Vanille, I most like the information on this site

I am hoping to try Easy boots Epic for Vanille, at least on her front feet. They are pretty funny looking, and they are expensive. Since they will only be used when she is working, they will last a long time, much longer than traditional shoes. Using boots would mean that she could be barefoot in the pasture and not have metal shoes nailed to her pretty feet. If Pete Ramey at hoofrehab is correct, a heavy horse like Vanille should be walking on her entire foot and not just on the walls as happens with traditional shoes. This makes sense to me. Her feet are so big, 18 cm wide, that the Epic is the only boot big enough to fit her except for custom made boots. Here's a photo and their website:

As you can see, the miserable weather has been a profitable time. The internet is a huge resource!

I've also been working on editing and compiling the blog posts up to the first trial trip with Toti and putting them into book form. I have sent the PDF off to my daughter and soon there should be a book available.

Once again, thank you to all who take the time to read this blog. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. If you have experience with Easy Boots, please share with me.



About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
This entry was posted in Art, Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Vanille

  1. Great post! Vanille’s expression put a huge smile on my face. Actually I bust out laughing. Cool boots. I had no idea such existed but it sure does make sense. Give my warm regards to Vanille and Jean-Francoise. I was so impressed with his relationship with Vanille. Watching him work with her was mesmerizing.

  2. She definitely looks sleeping yawing like that! I agree about the shoe issue. Since the frog works as a circulation pump for the legs, it always seemed crazy to me to have shoes that disallowed it to touch the ground. Dahlia has been barefoot for years and I now wonder why I ever put shoes on her – especially here (in the Tarn) where there are no rocks and the ground is usually soft. (at least compared to Colorado!). I am happy that Vanille is out in the pasture with the sheep!!!

  3. Suzanne says:

    Thanks Maria. These are used for endurance riding and long trail rides. Îve been looking at forums and a few people have used them for 1800 km. I agree that if we go travelling long distances, it is better to just use traditional shoes but for short trips, I’d like to try the boots. You may be right about the chafing and it sounds like you have some experience. Thanks for the advice. I’ll add it to the rest. Hope to see you in May. Big hug!

  4. Maria pietri lalor says:

    Hello Suzanne,
    Your baby needs a treadmill ! I have some experience with the rubber shoe and I will add a warning, if Vanille walks a few hours a day I would forsee shafing and burning on the pastern at the level of the velcro strap, those shoes are primarely intended for a sore hoof, abscess on the sole or something like that. A horse can work with one of those and it will protect them well for an hour or two but for long period I would seriously consider the old fashioned and proved method of shoeing.If shoeing has made it through the middle ages there is a reason.If Vanille get rubbed at the same place and a sensitive one it will shorten your trip !
    Love , Maria

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