A week on since the shoes came off, and Cassie is doing really well. Minnie is still carefully picking her way across the gravel whereas Cassie will trot. When we go out for a walk on the road, the only thing Cassie is interested in is finding nice bits to graze.
So today I decided that instead of just ambling along and let Cassie set the pace, we would go for a proper walk and I would set the pace. We took it easy coming down our hill, because even I don’t particularly like walking on its rough surface. When we got to the road, I positioned myself at Cassie’s shoulder, brought up my energy and walked. Cassie was a bit surprised and kept pointing out nice grassy spots she wouldn’t mind sampling, but I focused my attention ahead and kept going.
After a while, Cassie started licking and chewing and got into her stride. As she did, she began playing a little game. It was very subtle, because Cassie is good at this. The game is called “Do you notice I am pushing you with my shoulder?” I pushed her back. We walked on. Cassie tried again, even more subtle this time, but she gave the game away by flicking her ear back at me. We played this game until we got to the point where I wanted to turn back.
We stopped for a grazing break. On the way home I walked a bit further back, so that I was more in a driving position, almost in the same position as if I was riding her. Cassie knew we were going home and walked on full of confidence. We had a good walk.
I will continue walking her in hand for a while to give her time to get a toe callous, and also because it is a good exercise, but Cassie is doing much better than I had expected. She never hesitated during our walk. Her strides were long and easy. Her footfall has improved enormously, with no sign anymore of landing toe first. The road wasn’t bothering her at all. It’s looking good.