When I first transitioned Roo to barefoot-n-boots in 2009, the biggest hurdle to overcome was persuading his back feet to stay in their Easyboot Gloves when going up steep hills - particularly after going through water (which seems to be practically every climb we do).
Here's what I wrote at the time:
In the interim years since writing the above, Roo got some time off while I rode some of my other horses but this year I decided he'd been mothballed long enough and it was time to get him up and running again. To start with, we just conditioned barefoot, since we weren't going far or fast enough to warrant using boots. As he got fitter and we started to increase the mileage (and the weather turned dry and the rocks came out to play) it was time to get him in boots again. And we were right back to 2009 - once again I couldn't get those back boots to stay on and his right rear would pop off every time we went up a hill, with the left rear also making the occasional escapade.
Little Bald Mountain Loop above Robinson Flat.
Remembering my lessons-learned and following three frustrating rides in a row where I lost four back boots, I sat down to analyze what was going on. My problem was two-fold:
Here's Roo's right rear about two weeks after I dubbed his toe. Time for a touch up on the rest of his foot.
And so we put these newly-fitted, newly-accessorized boots to the test, and Roo got to do the section of trail between Robinson Flat and Foresthill at the weekend - 32 miles of canyons. If a boot is going to come off, you can guarantee it'll come off somewhere on this trail.
Roo waiting for Fergus and Patrick to catch up on the trail from Last Chance to Swinging Bridge -
1700 ft/520 m down and so rough in places that it's better to walk on foot.
Remember the part about how all our best climbs seem to be proceeded by water?
Here's Roo and Fergus getting a drink in the creek below Swinging Bridge.
The trail traveling up from this creek to Devil's Thumb has 34 switchbacks and
ascends 1500 ft/460 m - if your footwear is suspect in any way, you will lose boots.
Late in the evening we arrived in Foresthill, tired and grimy, but having had a most excellent ride. The pones did great and performed above expectation and best of all, Roo's boots never shifted the entire time. Now that right rear boot is broken in, it'll be much easier to get on next time around. Looks like it's time for Roo to hit 50-mile endurance rides again and I'll be comfortable that I'm not going to have to spend the day futzing with his boots.
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Joshua Tree National Park was - as always - a blissful week of riding on twisty trails with amazing views and spikey vegetation.
Getting out of the slop and into the dry desert air was a welcome respite, despite the freezing temperatures.
Both horses had had two months off, so we took it easy, going out for short, fun rides - with lots of walking in deep sand washes - just what they needed to build up fitness again. During the week we rode a little over 55 miles and climbed approximately 9,000 ft.
The footing was about as perfect as it could be and we never bothered to boot once. I did touch up both horses' feet with the rasp for minor chips, but was very pleased how well their hooves held up - especially given the wet, muddy conditions they'd been living in for weeks prior to their desert excursion.
The footing as about as perfect as it could be... most of the time:
Photo: Kaity Elliott
The crisp, cold temperatures caused them to stay very cheerful indeed the entire week - particularly one of the days we ended up riding in a snowstorm - first time I've experienced that in the desert and it was very pretty.
Riding in the remains of the snow the following day made for yet more cheerful horses, pink cheeks, and great memories.
Photo: Kaity Elliott
All in all, a great start to the year.
Unfortunately, we're now back in the real world with mud-covered, pink pones. It's time to get the Bobsey Twins up and running again after 14 months off, with the hope of getting them ready for some 50 mile rides later in the year. With my limited riding time, in order to get them both out I've lots of ponying ahead of me to ramp up their fitness. The first outing went well with no histrionics or unwanted excitement.
Here we go again - 2013. Happy New Year to all.
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California
Horse life is still quiet at our house with the pones enjoying their winter sabbatical. The beauty of having them all barefoot, of course, is that when I get around to deciding it's time to break out of hibernation and start riding again, all I need to do is trim, apply boots (or not, depending on the terrain), and go - none of this scheduling a shoer to come and work on them, waiting for him to be available, followed by either changing my mind and wanting to ride the horse that wasn't shod, or feeling guilty because I got sidetracked and didn't ride afterall, thereby wasting $100+ in shoeing.
We're getting ready for our annual winter trip to the desert - taking Fergus and Small Thing down to Southern California to get out of the mud and enjoy the longest break of the year.
2011 - Fergus scaling the mountains of Southern California.
At a time when most people are consumed with Holiday activity - gift wrapping, feast cooking, etc - I'm trying to figure out how much hay Fergus and Small Thing will eat, what blankets to take, if I have the right sized boots for each pone, and have I emptied the portapotty?
Taking the pones to the desert is good for their feet in so many ways. The current mud pit they are living in isn't exactly conducive to moving around much. So we will begin our trip with an overnight stop-over at a fairgrounds and let them run around before continuing the journey. Here's video from last year's leg-stretching exercise - big fun.
2011 - Small Thing and Fergus enjoying the non-muddy footing at the fairgrounds. First time they'd been able to run around in weeks.
Once we get there, I can actually see their feet (instead of just looking at mud blobs) and give them a suitable trim as needed. My trimming kit consists of the hoof stand and a bucket o' tools:
The sandy terrain will typically abrade their feet into great shape. Riding them on this footing means we don't necessarily need to boot, although there are quite a few fun technical trails with good quantities of rock, so we pick and choose as necessary - and can always carry boots just in case. I'm planning on taking Small Thing's Back Countries and his Gloves, to see which, if any, I prefer in this type of footing.
Lastly, their feet get a chance to dry out, get rid of any lingering thrush from the soggy conditions at home, and get a really good work out.
Small Thing in Baby Jesus mode, enjoying the sunshine and the dry warm sand.
May you all have contented winter breaks and enjoy your furry friends.
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California
After a pretty intensive year, the arrival of a new puppy, and the desire avoid burn-out, this fall I'm taking a timeout from riding - a few weeks off for me and the horses won't do any of us any harm. They are cheerfully covering themselves in mud and enjoying the cooler weather while I get on with some indoor quilting and knitting projects that have sat in the corner all year.
New puppy Finn "helping" me feed the horses - why does the hay net have to be the bestest dog toy ever?
Unfortunately, the horses didn't get the memo about this break and have continued to try and maim themselves. Fergus managed to slice open his muzzle - caught on what, I have no idea - but he couldn't have worn a bit if I'd wanted him to.
And then last weekend two horses turned up gimpy. One hasn't been ridden in a year and the other has been retired for six years, so I've no idea why they even bothered with this extra effort.
First Provo, my 24-year old ex-endurance horse was so stocked up in the back that he couldn't move. It turned out that he was unwilling to put weight on his right rear so the left was doing all the work and had thus turned into an elephant-leg, making him even less willing to move around. A few days of bute, plus the lure of grazing in the orchard finally got him moving and judging by yesterday's mayhem (he got into the chicken feed and the [sealed behind a door, in a bin, with a bungee cord over it] [no-longer unopened] sack of beet pulp), he's on the mend now - but still no clue as to what the problem was to start with.
Provo, also known as Black Button Eyes, enjoying his new digs - no sharing, no mud, endless supply of food...
On Sunday it was Uno's turn. Uno seems to think that it's his duty to produce an abscess around this date every year, whether we need one or not. So looking at the calendar, I could easily guess what the cause of his gimpiness was likely to be.
While trimming his right front foot a week or two ago, I'd noticed a black line between bar and sole. Uno grows a lot of bar which likes to lie over, trapping bacteria. I dug a little with my hoof knife but unfortunately, it went deeper than I was willing to pare, so at that point I left it alone.
I don't have a photo of the current problem, but here's one I prepared earlier:
Uno's foot in February 2011. Same problem, different month/year. (see black line on the right side of the photo where the bar meets the sole). And yay for records: according to my notes, he also abscessed on this same foot in January 2010... I'm picking up a pattern.
Sure enough, upon investigation this time, the black line was still evident and some gentle probing with the hoof knife produced some black ooze. Hah.
Looking out at the squishy mud, I needed to figure out a way to keep it clean and poulticed. Easyboot Glove to the rescue! Uno's sole got slathered in ichthammol, duct taped, and slipped into a size 2 Glove.
This morning I cleaned everything up and discovered that the abscess had other ideas about coming out the same way it went in, and it looks like it has chosen to come out of his heel bulb. So yet more extensive glopping of ichthammol, more wrapping, more duct tape, and Glove boot back on.
He's now ensconced in his own stall which he enjoys greatly because it means he doesn't have to share hay. We shall call him The Little [OK, Fat] Prince.
A few horses got juggled around this morning to accommodate their new disabilities and I'm running out of out-of-the-mud spaces to put them. Not to mention the added fun of a torrential downpour predicted for later this week. So much for taking a break from horse activities.
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California
(Note: Please forgive the strange fish-eye effect of all the photos in this article - I was trying out my new Optrix XD gadget for iPhone videoing and still hadn't quite gotten the settings sorted out).
Towards the end of the year my dry paddocks can turn into a sea of mud in the space of a few rainstorms. And hands up all those who have watched in frustration as the
gold dust hay gets trampled underfoot and turned into a soggy mess and the pones refuse to eat it because "it's all mucky"?
As barefoot beasties, my horses live on a diet of grass hay with a seasoning of alfalfa and I like to "free feed" as much as possible. Trouble is, greedy guts that they are, given the opportunity they'll scoff the lot in less than an hour then stand around pretending they're starving until the next feeding. For this reason, I've turned to "slow feeders" to keep the pones a'munchin while limiting the speed of their intake and keeping their whale-like proportions under control.
Best of all, using slow feeders, the hay stays mostly in the bag or in their mouths - with little lost in between, and virtually none ending up as expensive soil enhancer.
With slow feeders, the horses are reduced to plucking wisps of hay out over time, more closely mimicking natural grazing, as opposed to stuffing hay in as quickly as they can (the way they'd like to).
There are all sorts of slow feeders on the market, from basic hay nets to more elaborate (and expensive) dispensers. Whilst I'd like to own some of the higher-end feeders, with six horses squabbling over the food and knowing that my paddocks slope so anything unattached ends up rolling to the bottom, I need to stick with options that won't break the bank because I'm going to need a lot of them.
My current favorites are the small mesh hay bags sold online for less than $10 each. I've found that these will last at least a year (if not longer) before they start to suffer and even then I can usually keep them going with minor repairs.
Fergus tends to be very hard on bags because of his patented "get the hay out quicker by grabbing the bag and shaking it vigorously" method.
It doesn't matter what kind of bag it is, apparently the smash and grab trick is the way to go. Other lesser bags don't last long under his ministrations. This one below lasted less than one feeding:
The $10 small mesh hay bags are usually a 2" gauge:
but earlier this summer I decided to splash out on a longer-lasting, more robust hay net that had the added benefit of having 1" gauge holes:
This forced the horses to eat slower still - keeping them busy throughout the day. They seem much more relaxed using this feeding system - although they're pleased when I show up at feeding time, it has limited the amount of bickering that goes on. The horses no longer act like Starving Marvins and there's a lot less posturing and jealous guarding going on. They'll nibble for a bit and then wander off to get a drink. Right now, I can feed six horses using 2-3 hay bags because the top dogs are no longer standing over their prizes, causing the lesser mortals to go without.
The new, more expensive hay bag also came with a front-loader - a metal frame that you thread the bag onto and then attach to your rail fence or panel. The flakes of hay are posted through the frame into the bag - much more convenient than filling hay nets.
I use the snap they provide to keep the hay from being pushed out the top by over-enthusiastic pone muzzles when they flip the bag around:
So far, the new bag is lasting well and showing no signs of deterioration (despite Fergus' best efforts). I especially like it because of the large amount of hay it will hold (four + large flakes)(and they make larger ones!) and the fact that they make it in several mesh sizes to suit your horses' particular needs.
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California
The trouble with doing 100 mile endurance rides is it leaves little room for pleasure riding - you're either training, resting, or exhausted. Exploring the mountains on horseback was something that was sorely missed this summer, so taking advantage of the mild weather last weekend Patrick and I snuck out for three days of horse camping at Faith Valley in the high Sierra, about 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe.
This time of year is always confusing to my "european" body - the sun gets low in the sky, but the temperatures are still in the 90s. Twenty-eight years of living in Europe tells me to put on warm clothes in the morning and I feel ill at ease pulling on summer clothes "just in case it should turn chilly" (I wish - during September Sacramento had 26 days over 90°F (32°C) and it wasn't much cooler up in the foothills).
This was going to be a ride story about Fergus' and my Excellent Adventure at Virginia City 100, but instead I found I had quite a lot to say about gluing, so that story will have to wait. Needless to say, we had a great weekend and Fergus, as usual, impressed the pants off me. He continues to astonish me with his ability, his enormous walk, and the way he takes everything so calmly in his stride (and a very big stride it is, too). Love my borrowed golden boy.
Alas, as part of the original agreement (where I got him on loan to do "NASTR Triple Crown")(and snuck Tevis in there too) I now have to return him to his rightful owner, Patrick. Despite that, I'm already secretly scheming to borrow him back for 20 Mule Team 100 in February.
Smug Gluers R Us
For once I actually felt ready - Fergus and I drove up to Virginia City on Thursday night after work, arriving after midnight but ensuring I'd have all day to get him glued, get everything ready for the ride, preride the part of the route through town, and still relax and socialize.
The camp for Virginia City 100 is on the south side of town and the trail exits on the north side of town. Because of this, we repeat the through-town section four times - always in the dark. The ride starts on the main street and within two blocks drops down a steep paved road to the next terrace below. Judging by the amount of yelling going on at the start of the ride, this steep drop is not much fun in steel shoes. Fergus, on the other hand, marched right down the middle of the road, causing us to appear at the front of the pack and, very briefly, be in third place overall. Awk. Not where I wanted to be at all.
Following shod horses through town later in the evening, every time they hit some repaired asphalt or a painted part of the pavement, their back feet were slipping out from under them.
In boots? Nope...
Fergus and I pre-riding through town on Friday afternoon.
Friday morning's gluing went very well and I was extremely satisfied with the outcome. The fact that I ended up completely covered in glue, including a gob all down one leg and a large blob in my hair is neither here nor there - so long as the boots went on well, I don't care what I look like.
A freshly-glued Fergus gazing down at Virginia City. Thanks to my assistant volunteer, Lorri Stringfield (who also used Glue-ons for her first 100 with her horse, Cruiser), for keeping him as still as she could during the proceedings.
New Things I Learned About Glueing
1. Using a Cooler
After a discussion with Kevin Myers during which I whined about not being able to get the Glue-ons on the horse before the Vettec Adhere glue set up (approximately 0.7 seconds during California summers), he pointed out that even if I kept my glue cool, if I was applying it to a warm boot that might have an impact. I flashed back to my Glue-ons sitting in the warm sun before my last gluing experience and could see where I might have been going wrong.
Accordingly, I arrived at Virginia City with an enormous cooler filled with ice packs and boots and glues and alcohol and disposable gloves and tips and knives and paper towel and ... well, you get the picture.
Keeping everything in a cooler was a stroke of genius. I was actually able to "take my time" (this being relative - you still can't hang around, but at least you don't have to have the powers of the Silver Streak to get the job done). It still required everything to be laid out ready (albeit inside the cooler), and you had to prethink what you were going to do ahead of time, but the resulting experience was positively relaxed.
2. Sikaflex Application
Unfortunately, I wasn't there when the EasyCare Glue Crew put Fergus' boots on for Tevis, so I didn't get to see whatever ludicrously effective system they used to get those suckers to stay on so well. The only thing I had to work from was a quick blurry photo that my husband, Patrick, was able to sneak before being shouted at for not keeping Fergus completely immobile (not actually possible when he's bellowing at the world).
The resulting pic showed a curious difference in how they applied the Sikaflex (formerly Goober Glue) sole packing. Instead of a small bead all the way around the inside edge, followed by a blobby triangle-shape mimicking the frog (see left), they made a large fat "I" shape (see right). This is much quicker to squeeze out and judging by the Tevis results, just as effective.
Fergus had been a little footsore on some of the harder footing during our pre-ride, so I wanted to make sure that he had as much cushioning as possible. As a result, it's possible that I overdid the Sikaflex "slightly"... ...and it's possible that's how come I ended up covered in glue as it proceeded to ooze out of every possible exit. Apparently I still need to perfect that aspect of glue application. Different sized feet with different amounts of concavity will require adjustment accordingly.
3. The Twist
The third thing that I suspect I've been missing out on (probably related to the aforementioned fact that I seldom had time enough to get the boot on the hoof before the glue was set up solid), is to give each boot a slight twist back and forth once they're on, to get the glue to really stick well to both hoof wall and Glue-on wall.
4. The Growth
And now we come to the only mistake I made during the whole proceedings. As mentioned, perhaps I was a little overenthusiastic with the Sikaflex - witness below the golf-ball sized glob of glue that oozed out of the back of the first Glue-on that was stuck on Fergus' right front foot (and I suspect I also forgot to give it that smearing twist).
In my defence, I did pull at the blob slightly just after glueing, but was worried I'd pull out the entire back part of the squooshy glue which so nicely plugs the heel area, so I left it alone to cut off later ...and never went back to it. So as a result Fergus went over 40 miles with a bobble on the back of his foot.
No harm done, right?
The bobble acted like a handle, so when he stepped on it while climbing a long hill at 42 miles, the boot popped right off and we left it behind.
Lesson learned and luckily I noticed not too long later as we crested the long hill we'd been trudging up. I always carry sparesies, so on went a Glove and off we went and I never really thought about it again.
The long 2000' climb at around 40+ miles - Washoe Lake on the left, rocks on the right. At the top of the climb I noticed we were missing something
Other Reasons You'd Want to Boot at Virginia City 100
Nevada is well-known for its rocks. Luckily, for the most part you can step in between them. Of course, there are exceptions - like Bailey Canyon that occurs between 25 and 35 miles. It's actually a lot of fun, so long as you aren't the type who likes to travel at warp speed at all times. You take your time and you enjoy the challenge:
Although there isn't much water on the trail to lubricate your boots, there are a few really steep climbs that cause you to pray you've got your booting protocol down. Here Fergus is at the top of the first (and steepest) "SOB" and is explaining to me that it's time for me to get off and walk:
and here we are scrambling up the other side looking back at Connie and Pam who yelled across to me that she found my lost glue-on (they are the tiny dusty things about half way down the descent):
You also spend quite a bit of time on old mining roads that take you all over the mountains. There are plenty of places to trot, but you have to be ready to slow down when necessary. Connie (in the blue ahead) found an old oxen shoe not far from here while marking the trail:
Part 3 of the Triple Crown - Mission Accomplished
And so Fergus and I completed VC100 around mid-pack which is where I wanted us to be - slow and steady is going to get the job done since neither of us are likely to break records in the fitness department. But by doing so, we received the NASTR Triple Crown award (NV Derby 50, NASTR 75, and VC100) we hoped to achieve back in March when we set out on this journey. Like Uno before him, Fergus wasn't necessarily expected to do much more than slow 50s, which is why it's all the more satisfying that he has turned out so well.
As I said at the beginning - love my big golden borrowed boy, mush face and all.
With two weeks to go until Virginia City 100, I decided that it would be a good idea for Fergus to inspect the parts of the trail we would be riding at night during the endurance ride. Unlike Tevis - which is held the weekend at the end of July/beginning of August closest to the full moon - VC100 is held two weeks into September, moon or no moon - and this year there will be no moon at all.
Accordingly, Patrick and I took advantage of the three-day weekend and trailered Fergus and Small Thing over to Nevada for a pre-riding excursion.
Predictably we arrived two hours later than hoped for, but managed Part 1 of the Mission late Saturday afternoon - riding the bottom part of the 75 mile loop - the area where it would just start to get dark on the day of the Ride.
Patrick was pleased finally to get to ride his horse.
So much of Nevada is open land it's sometimes hard to grasp - miles and miles of sagebrush-covered hillsides dotted with old mines. And roaming these desert highlands are bands of wild mustangs.
Looking out towards Virginia City as dusk approaches.
On our way up the mountainside, we saw a couple of groups from afar, but coming over a hill we suddenly came face to face with a herd of eight horses - four of them youngsters - right next to the trail.
Small Thing's eyes got very big, but he kept it together - that was, until a couple of the more curious yearlings approached for a closer look.
Looking at little wild-eyed as the babies come in for a closer look.
Thankfully they lost interest before Small Thing popped and we went our separate ways.
Coming down off the mountain, it began to get dark - just like the real ride, only this evening we were treated to a huge full moon to light us along the last few miles of our canyon ride.
Moon over Geiger Summit - one of a couple of road crossings during the ride.
The next day we had big plans to get up early, trailer back up to Virginia City for Part 2 of the Mission, and drive home again in time for supper. But waking up at Washoe Lake that morning blew it all out of the window. The horse camp there is so pretty in the morning light, with the sun coming up over the mountains that we abandoned our plan and made arrangements to stay an extra day.
In the afternoon, we took the horses for a ride to the lake and played in the dunes.
Fergus was still wearing his Gloves from the day before - what with the plan of getting up early and going riding, right? All we did was loosen the velcro straps overnight. I'd taken Small Thing's Back Country boots off the night before, however, and didn't bother to reboot him for this ride - Washoe Lake State Park is almost entirely sand, so perfect barefoot terrain.
Our horses aren't used to large bodies of water, so it took some persuasion to get them anywhere near the lake, but finally Fergus' thirst overcame his fear. Small Thing, on the other hand, wouldn't go closer than four feet - who knows what monsters lurk below.
Fergus is still wearing size 2.5 Gloves on the front, and a 1.5 and a 2-with-powerstrap on the rear feet.
The main trouble with riding in soft sugar-like sand is the horses' tendency to forget themselves and collapse without warning. In the photo above, Patrick comes close to going over Fergus' head when his front end melted out from underneath him on a steep downhill. A swift kick in the ribs brought Fergus out of his trance-like state and reminded him that rolling while your rider is aboard isn't the greatest of ideas.
Part 2 of the Mission was to ride most of the last loop of VC100 - Cottonwoods. Small Thing hasn't done any work in weeks, so after riding 14 miles over the previous two days, with some good climbing and some deep sand, he didn't get to participate in this expedition.
Some of this loop goes right through the middle of town but I decided we didn't need to do that part because a) we'd be able to practise it the day before the ride as a leg stretcher, b) it's lit by street lights, and c) riding through Virginia City on a Holiday Monday while there's Ye Olde Tyme festival going on didn't seem the brightest of ideas. Fergus is pretty steady, but let's not test it to the max, eh?
Accordingly we parked at the old cemetery (spooky finish line for the ride - interesting when you pass by there in the wee hours of the night) on the north end of town and leaving Small Thing and Patrick to lounge in the shade, Fergus and I set off up the canyon.
Fergus was not amused. Why did Small Thing get to stand around and eat hay, while he, Fergus, had to go gallivanting about the countryside in the hot sun? As a result, there was plenty of peddling from me, and plenty of bellowing and swerving from him, but we finally got going.
Long Valley Road - not the most interesting part of the loop, especially when you're forced out there, all alone.
When you ride it in the pitch black during the endurrance ride, there are "things" that look at you from the sides of the road. Never did figure out what they were or if they were hallucinations when Uno and I rode it in 2010.
Fergus and I managed only to get lost once, which was a plus because it meant we came upon the water trough about 45 minutes before expected. We backtracked to the correct trail (much to Fergus' disappointment) and continued on the lollipop at the top of the loop that brought us back around to the vet check area and the trough again.
Prior to this I'd only ridden this section in the dark, so it was a pleasant surprise to get to see the scenery in detail.
The chalk cliffs at the very furthest point of the loop
Fergus seemed a little foot-weary on the hard-packed dirt road, so I'm treating his feet for any lingering thrush. When we got done, I discovered that not only had he worn through the toe of one front boot, he'd also jammed a rock into the hole, so that might have accounted for his discomfort. The boot was probably a little past its sell-by date, having done two days on the abrasively volcanic trails at the Washoe Valley Ride (some shared trail with VC100) back in May, and been worn for every conditioning ride in the lead up to Tevis. The Nevada trails can be hard on feet, so I was glad for their protection.
Three hours after we set out, we once again crested Sign Hill and looked down into the canyon that leads to Virginia City. This 30-minute section is ridden four times in the dark, so I was glad Fergus got a good look at it.
Our return to the trailer was punctuated by Fergus bellowing (and Small Thing shrieking from his perch on the hill-top), and trotting like a maniac (the most animated he'd been all day). We completed the 19 mile loop in three and half hours, so I was very pleased with him. On the day, I've allowed us four and half hours (considering it'll be dark and we will have already ridden 75 miles before setting out on the loop), so I think we should be in good shape.
The noble beast finished his ride with a big pan of liquid slurpie. No kisses for him.