During November, Uno and I were on the final 30-day period of his suspensory rehab, at the end of which--provided all went well--he would be pronounced "healed".
November's instructions were to "add terrain" so I was to gradually introduce hills, uneven footing, etc, instead of having to find creative ways to "trot for six continuous minutes on the flat" (no mean feat when you live in the foothills of the Sierra). It finally started to get fun.
Throughout his rehabilitation I have been riding him booted in front and barefoot in back. This was mostly because we have to negotiate my long large-rock-gravel driveway, followed by a mile or so of gravel road every morning. The few times I tried him un-booted, he'd invariably get a rock lodged up the side of his frog, causing funky-lameness and a small melt-down on my part until I discovered the culprit. Wearing boots is easier on both of us.
The most interesting thing is that during this time he has been wearing exactly the same pair of Gloves on exactly the same feet (right/left). And from that I've been able to see the wear pattern from how he travels. Although he's wearing down the medial (inner) part of the toe quicker than the distal area, I was pleased to see that the wear is even on both feet. He's no longer travelling like a banana which was a problem last year.
This pair of boots are like old friends.
I did the math and if you add in the two 50 milers at the Washoe Valley endurance ride in May, some Tevis Trail pre-riding, the 25 miles of NASTR 75 that we managed to complete before he injured himself, followed by the 450 miles of "little and often" over the last 120 days, these boots now have approximately 600 miles on them - nearly all of the last four months on abrasive gravel roads and pavement. And they are looking pretty good.
(In the same time period, if he'd been shod in steel shoes, we would have gone through four sets of shoes. Hmm.)
His left Glove (on the right in the above photo) still has the remains of the yellow duct tape we plastered on it way back in May during the the Washoe Valley ride when Uno's flared toe was causing gapping at the top of the boot and he was scooping in sand, which in turn was filling up the front of the boot and causing it to come off. Unfortunately at that point his foot was too big to squish on a brand new boot with a PowerStrap so we added the duct tape assuming that it might stay on for the next 20 mile loop. In reality, it took about 500 miles for the tape to fall off - not bad for a "quick fix".
However, after six months it's definitely time to add a PowerStrap as I can now push this boot on with one finger. It's a good fit, but not a tight one and I anticipate the upcoming varied terrain will put more stresses on the boots than trotting on the flat has*.
(* note it didn't - final month of rehab now completed -- and I still haven't gotten around to putting on the PowerStrap).
Now we are into January, Uno is at the "healed stage" I can finally turn him out with his buddies, which in turn means I get to take a break from daily riding. Whilst I loved it when I was out there every morning, it really didn't balance well with my 60-hour work weeks. Time for me to take a month of vacation before gearing up again for the 2012 endurance season.
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California