Owyhee Canyonlands - Opportunities Abound

There is something magical about riding across the desert, in and out of canyons, through the washes and over the bluffs, to come home at night to a lively and welcoming ranch. Now times that by five- pure heaven.  I said this before, but the annual five day Owyhee Canyonlands ride has been my absolute favorite endurance ride since I first started the sport. I have been fortunate to ride many miles throughout the Owyhee desert, and never tire of it. John and Steph Teeter provide an amazing atmosphere to ride to your heart's content, and then come back to catered meals, ample wine and amazing opportunities for lifelong friendships. We were lucky to enjoy all of the above for the week and upon arriving back to reality, I have been able to reflect upon all things learned. 

Replika and I on day one. Every day was "the best day!" Steve Bradley Photography

The opportunity to soak up your experiences and learn from them is abundant throughout a multiday ride. Just six short weeks ago, I was unsure that I would be able to take my mare, whom I love riding above all others. You see she had an accident. She was in the hospital for over a week. I was terrified that she wouldn't fully recover. I put everything I had into treating my mare, trying to stay positive and not obsessing over the calendar and my upcoming most favorite ride. She healed at a faster rate then expected, but I was still worried about the surrounding soft tissue, the possibility for hoof sensitivity due to the massive amounts of antibiotics and her physical capacity after being off work for an extended amount of time as well as in a stall for a portion of that time. She was released for full work a couple weeks prior to the five day, and I started her back slowly. I knew it would be up to her in regards to the five day, and I was prepared to ride slow and cut it short if she only had a couple days in her. 

My poor mare's leg. The picture on the right was ten days past the initial injury, and the picture on the left was ten days after the first. It is now completely closed, with a small scar. 

We got one long training ride in about 10 days prior to the start of the ride, and she felt wonderful. I used my Goober Glue/Adhere method to apply her boots on the Sunday prior to the Tuesday start and felt pretty good about things. Her feet looked great and she hadn't shown any signs of being sensitive despite the upset to her system. The growth rings should tell the tale, and it will be interesting to see. We got to ridecamp Monday afternoon, and immediately set about finding old friends and making new ones! I was a bit nervous for the ride, which is completely unlike me, because it is always scary on that first ride back after an injury or extended lay-off. I needn't have worried, she was amazing as always! 

Elly and I leaving a vetcheck. It is so much fun riding with a good friend, on a good horse. 

The first day is always a nice, easy trail to get your feet wet. We rode along ridges, flew through the washes and cruised around on familiar trail. What a great day! Despite the unseasonal heat, she looked great and we were cleared for day two. Now I have to laugh because I had nightmares about this day's trail the nights leading up to the ride. Last year I rode Replika through our transition period from shoes to boots, and I was ridiculously cognizant of every.single.rock on the trail. As this ride is pretty dang rocky, it had stuck in my mind. I needn't have worried this year! Not only did Steph route us around a particularly horrid section of trail, Replika felt amazing in her Glue-Ons cushioned with my beloved Goober Glue! We headed into the vet check after 25 miles an exact hour faster than I had predicted, and made our way home in the heat of the afternoon. We rode with a super-cool dude named Jerry who happened to be from Reno. He had ridden both Tevis and the Virginia City 100 numerous times, and compared the VC 100 with the first loop of this trail. Regardless, it was gorgeous and one of my absolute favorites! On the way back home, we came to a paved road. It is a short section of a couple miles but always seems to drag on and on. After a short pow-wow with my riding buddies, who were all in Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons, we decided we would keep up a slow 6-7MPH jog down the road, so as not to lose to much time. We got into our grove and soon overtook six riders in steel shoes who had to slow down because of the pavement. Not us oh no! We kept up our job and guiltlessly glided down the road, all twelve of our boots quietly padding down the pavement. 

Karen and Thunder in their Glue-Ons, and Tamara and Consolation in their Gloves riding down the pavement. The only riders we didn't pass on that road were on booted horses as well!!


Riding through Castle Creek, on the way to vetcheck 1- day two. 


Karen leading Thunder on a rocky downhill. About ten miles of the first loop was like this. 

Despite the rock and road, Replika continued to feel as strong as she had on day one. We decided to go for day three, which I was super excited about as this trail and out vetcheck are my favorite! I know, I know, they are ALL my favorite! Is that a bad thing?!?! I took off again bright and early with my pal and her silly horse, Jasper, who was also outfitted in Easyboot Glue-Ons and Goober Glue. I tell ya, this boot thing is starting to really take off up here in the Northwest! We hit the trail and were soon at the Sierra Del Rio ranch, where I have spent many holds. This ranch is amazing- hospitable, green and just gorgeous nestled in the canyon near the Snake River. We had a fun quick loop out of the ranch, and were soon headed from the ranch to home. There was a very special moment for me on this trail when I realized how much this mare has done for me. The trail was the same that Replika and I flew along by ourselves as the last loop of the 80 mile ride we did in the spring and it wasn't any less magical on this particular day. She never ceases to amaze me and I was having the time of my life with a good friend. It just doesn't get much better than this, folks. 

Elly's super classy solution to the gnats. Nice work, El. 

Scenic overlook of the Snake River just off the REAL OREGON TRAIL ;-) It was gorgeous.

Although Replika was cleared for the next day, I decided we both could use a day off. No shame, and I was able to help P&R at the out vetcheck, and then help crew for my pals as they came in off the trail at basecamp. It had been hot all week and we were ridiculously fortunate to have access to cold water from a real hose! The horses and riders all appreciated the thorough cool-down prior to finishing the ride. Towards the end of the day, I brought Replika out of her pen and trotted her out cold for the vets to make sure she was truly ok for day five. She got the thumbs up from two different vets and I was thrilled to be sharing another day with her on the trail. 

"You want me to go WHERE?!?!" This is Rep looking into the canyon that we would be going into.. all you could hear was the crashing of other horses down below. Or was it cougars? Or Bears? Or???




 

Phew we made it alive!!
Day five was no disappointment, as we were once again extremely fortunate to ride through MORE amazing trail! Sheesh does it ever get old out there?!?! We rode through several canyons and old homesteads on the last day, ending the first loop after a huge rocky climb with an AMAZING trail through a magnificent canyon. We are so freaking lucky! We cruised through the first loop and kept our momentum through the second loop. I was again riding with my girlfriend who I rode days one, three and five with. It was on the second loop that both of us hit a wall, thankfully at different times! Between the silliness and the abrupt "I'm done." statements, we made it through nearly top tenning the day. What a rush to hear the final "You're completed" after traveling so many miles with your best friend, human or horse. Such a feeling!
 
Leonard Liesens, from Belgium, riding Z Blue Lightning who is outfitted in Easyboot Gloves. Blue went on to complete two days in his Gloves. His pose says it all!

There is such an opportunity for learning at a ride such as this. I continue learning, and hope it will never stop. A few things I learned:

1) Easyboot Glue-Ons truly are an amazing option for so many different horses, riders and events. There were tons of horses outfitted in Glue-Ons, and I only know of one lost boot. Fortunately the rider and horse didn't realize the boot was gone until after the ride. It was all good in their case. 

2) Easyboot Gloves can be used at a multiday, although I would definitely want to make sure I had done plenty of miles in my boots to ensure rubbing wouldn't be a problem. It is also important to thoroughly check and clean gaiters and pasterns at every vetcheck to monitor and curb possible rubbing. There were a few horses who were rubbed by the gaiters at this ride, although I believe the rubbed horses were all in the old gaiters. Add powerstraps and athletic tape for a sure fit!

3) Christoph Shork, The Bootmeister, never stops. He rides, he trims, he glues, he rides, he advises, he run run runs. It was exhausting to watch. Just sayin'. 

Christoph and his groupies haulin' the mail into the ranch. What a great looking group of horses! The riders looked a little rough, but those horses were rockin' it! (Literally- they finished the rocky trails each day in lightning fast time. One could say Easyboots made that possible!

4) People who ride in shoes still use Easyboots! I saw a couple of people riding last week with original Easyboots over their horse's steel shoes. At least two of them (that I noticed) went on to ride all five days on the same horse. Easycare truly offers something for everyone!! Good job to everyone!

5) Pay attention to your horse. Every stumble, every nose crinkle, every flinch means something. I think it's better to play it safe then sorry. Unfortunately there were a few horses treated last week. Thankfully they were all sent home looking good, but in this sport it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Pay attention to your ponies and you may be able to prevent something catastrophic, that will not resolve with treatment. 

Since this post has turned into a novel and I have probably lost all my readers with the exception of the editor and my mother, I am going to end it here for now. Next week I will have more boot and foot stuff, which is truly what this blog is about. I hope you'll forgive my rambling and I promise to get back on topic next week! Something about being in the desert for five days makes one kinda silly. 

'Till next time! 

Amanda Washington
SW Idaho

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