Three of the goofiest geldings one could ever ask for. Yay me..
The #1 lesson that was reiterated for me in 2011 is proper fit = success. Don't try to ride with ill-fitting boots. Just don't. Not only will you end up frustrated and discouraged, it's not necessary. With 1000lbs of torque twisting and turning inside a pair of rubber boots, there are bound to be occasional losses, it's no different than nail on shoes, but don't make it harder on yourself by riding in boots that don't fit! Put in a little effort and utilize Easycare's awesome Fit Kit and, if lucky, a Team Easyboot member to help you out!
Utilize the fit kit- it's brilliant.
Lesson #2 is proper trim - This ranks right up there with Lesson #1: while I think fit is the most important aspect of boot success, you can't achieve a good fit without a proper trim. Get educated, folks! Even if you can't get down there and trim yourself, there is no excuse for not learning more about it. Learn the anatomy of the hoof and about the internal structures. Learn how they work together and why balance is so important. A properly trimmed and balanced foot will be free of flares and stretched white line, will have naturally low heels and short toes. While there are certainly conformational issues that can be worked with, a proper trim really allows for a good fit and will only increase your success.
Nicely trimmed feet- learn about it!
Lesson #3 - Go with the flow! Make do with what you've got and change things as necessary. I tend to be a Type A person who gets rigid and fixated on certain things. More than once this year I had to change boot sizes last minute, abort a gluing session and make due with what was there. Gluing boots with The Pickett Creek Girls prior to Owyhee Canyonlands was a memorable event which reminded me of the importance of having the necessary supplies prior to starting an important project- such as gluing boots on six horses for a five-day ride. Are you reading this Steph?!?! ;-)
Complete chaos before a ride never hurt anyone!
Lesson #4 - Riding 100 miles in a day makes for a long one. If you're me, that is. If your super-speed racer riding a horse like Monk you can finish in the time it takes for most people to ride 50 miles. The Monk-Man wears his Easyboot Glue-On's proudly, and a repeat of Mr. Garrett-Easyboot-Ford's performance last year, the winner of Tevis as well as the Haggin Cup was again outfitted in Easyboot Glue-Ons. There really isn't anything these boots can't do, and I think this was again reiterated be some pretty impressive stats this year.
Although he is playing the part of a gentle babysitter here, Monk recently won a 100 mile ride in 6:53. Crazy fast! I hope 2012 includes the general acceptance of the Easyboot Race Plates in the flat track industry. Pretty soon, there will truly be nothing these boots can't handle!
Lesson #5 - Listen to your horse. I made the very, very difficult decision to retire my mare after the 2011 season. She retires with 2155 miles, and will make some incredible babies when the time comes. The decision was one with which I wrestled for months. Ultimately we decided she was telling us she was done competing at the level she had been previously, and there is no shame in that. It's hard to put selfishness aside for "just one more completion," or "one more 100," or "one more multiday," but it was so important for me to end her on a high, after an incredible season and, most importantly, while she was still sound and usable. She'll be used for trail riding and I cannot wait to see her babies. Hopefully it will be possible to bring one of them up behind their mother. They have some pretty big boots to fill.
Replika and I headed out for a quick spin the day before our 100 miles at Bandit Springs. She was the first horse I ever truly felt part of a partnership, and for that I'll be forever grateful.
What have you learned in 2011? What lessons would you rather not be repeated? What are your goals for 2012?
I hope lots of riding is high up on everyone's list!
~ Amanda Washington