Using hoofboots is a big committment for the average rider with one or two horses. For a horse trainer with several horses in and out the door on a regular basis, it can be hell. Last time, I posted about my young gelding, Chant, who is currently in Endurance Horse Boot Camp with a good friend and long-time endurance rider, Darlene Anderson. Darlene and her family have had some pretty high-mileage horses, and Darlene has always been congnizant of her horses feet, their trimming and shoeing. Having a horse with high/low syndrome, she understands proper trimming is paramount to keeping him going, and going he does well. While they do shoe their horses during the competition season, they are used to pulling shoes and continuing to ride regularly throughout the off-season. And although she doesn't ride her own horses barefoot/booted at rides (yet), she did do her first booted ride with me a few years ago after an impromptu trimming/fitting/booting session the day before her mom's horse's first ride (say that ten times fast) and had a successful finish with no boot issues. Thank goodness because that would have been all on me!
Darlene's first ride in Easyboot Gloves. 2010 Owyhee Tough Sucker.
Last weekend I hopped in the car and took a quick four-hour drive west to Bend, Oregon, where little Chantly has been living. I brought an arsenol of footcare items- all my trimming tools (afterall, he was last trimmed by a FARRIER), boots, boots and more boots. I had sent a box of boots for Darlene to try on Chant a couple weeks earlier, based on what I *thought* would fit him. Although I sent him to training with boots that fit at that time, he has since grown out the remainder of the foot that he had when he came to me, and as result, has gone down a size in boots. While it's obviously a challenge to fit boots from 250 miles away, the distance isn't the only challenge.
Another challenge we face is the six week trimming schedule, which is not necessarily a death-sentence in boot fitting, but may require a few more tricks in the bag. We also have someone who is newer to using Gloves but definitely not new to using Easyboots. Although we're facing a few road bumps, this is NOT the end of the world.
Like I said previously, Darlene and her crew are used to continuing to ride throughout the off-season despite pulling shoes in October or November. She has a pretty good stash of Original Easyboots, which they use throughout the winter. Here I admit my predjudices, as I have never used Original Easyboots nor did I believe they were a great option. Shame on me. Those things are awesome! The morning of our big ride Darlene slapped a set of four Original Easyboots on her man's horse and they never looked back. I love learning new things! While I was there, Darlene decided to use my experience fitting boots to get a fantastic little mare, Soul Sister, owned by Team Easyboot members Dennis and Sue Summers, to a set of Gloves. We popped a pair of size 1 Gloves on Sister's front feet and pounded on a size 0.5 on her back feet. Again, we never looked back (or should I say, down?).
Lumpy and his snazzy red and black Original Easyboots, to go with his snazzy red and black color theme. I was so impressed by these boots.
Darlene, Lumpy and Sister slipping under a cool tree limb that keeps the BIG horses off this trail. So glad I wasn't riding either of my moose. Sister moved beautifully in the Gloves and will do well with them throughout her career.
Chant was next. Although I had planned on trimming him while I was there, the previous trim by the farrier was so great, I opted to leave him alone and let the farrier trim him on his next visit, which happens to be this Thursday. I can't hardly believe I, the control freak of the century, just said that. But seriously peeps, the trim was good, Chant's feet grow and wear evenly and balanced and my back hurts. It's so worth the money. However, because we were four and a half weeks into the trim, we were pretty tight on fit and had to pound a bit with the rubber mallet to really set the boots. Because I had doubts they would have fit the next weekend at five weeks, I decided to leave another pair of Gloves the next size up for his front feet to be used depending on his trim cycle. The backs can go bear at that point if necessary and hopefully we're covered.
First of all, I have to say I have the Best.Friends.Ever. However my girlfriend found this shirt, I have no idea. But I love it and it was so perfect. Luckily Chant stayed true to his given name, Enchanter, and didn't need the nickname during this ride. You know you have good friends when :).
Chant strides out in his Gloves. Not pulling TOO hard here- he is a GOER!
Well how was the ride you ask? Wonderful!! Not only did my young gelding NOT try to kill me, all of our boots stayed put and the day was as gorgeous as you could ask for. Because of all the flack I got using hoofboots in the beginning when it was "taboo," I always hope my rides in boots with those who aren't devout booters go seamlessly and was thrilled when we never glanced at our boots all day and found them securely set when we went to take them off upon arriving home. EasyCare, I love you.
Chant continues to improve and we'll see what the future holds for us. For now, he's set up with a great trainer, a great trimmer and boots that should fit him throughout a six-week period. Would it be easier to put shoes on him and forget about it? Probably. But with a little effort and a few willing participants it isn't necessary. Aren't we lucky to have the option?
I love the Gloves.