Gloves on a Pedestal

Last September, Curly and I attended an ACTHA ride at the Washington State Horse Park in Cle Elum, Washington. When talking about my favorite boot, I have a tendency to put the Easyboot Glove on a pedestal (figuratively speaking). At this ride, my friends Lynda Allan and Bonnie Davis came up with a fun way for Curly to show off our favorite boots on an actual natural pedestal. I had never asked Curly to step up on a tree stump before but I am always game to try new obstacles and so is my horse. It was a lot of fun and Curly was a trooper about it, even when the larger stump started breaking away under him. Below is a fun photo Lynda took at one of the "unofficial" obstacles we found on the trail in between the ACTHA obstacles.

The Gloves are a great choice for ACTHA because of the lack of external hardware. Curly had developed a way of hopping through some obstacles when he wore his Easyboot Epics. He quickly learned to trust the Gloves and to not worry about anything when approaching obstacles that include: walking through a pile of brush, walking over a tarp, trotting around the wagon wheel, passing through "the recycle" (a box made out of poles and filled with empty plastic water bottles that produce a crinkling sound). I really appreciate the tread pattern and the traction on his boots - it enables Curly to go over slick bridges, boardwalks, and planks (yes some of our obstacles seem like we are walking the plank), and through it all we can trust this boot to not hinder but to actually help us achieve higher scores while competing in ACTHA rides.

Martha Nicholas

Persistence Prevails

After having my quarter horse in corrective rocker shoes for four years my common sense kicked in. I noticed when my horse's shoes were pulled for winter he seemed to do quite well. The following spring I decided to try keeping him barefoot. Unfortunately the trimmer I selected was not the best choice for my horse. I was loyal to the cause but after three trimmings my horse was lame. I consulted with my vet and she determined his soles had been severely over trimmed - she could not believe he was even standing. I decided to fire the trimmer who's recommendation was that I turn my horse out on pasture. I came close to losing my horse but after emergency care (icing his feet twice a day, isoxoprine and bute) and four weeks of stall rest, he showed improvement.

So after all this, why didn't I go back to shoes? I really trusted that the worst was over. I did more research and found another trimmer, who was able to give me several recommendations from people using barefoot horses in competition. These were not broken down horses that got their last chance from a barefoot trimmer. These were highly exercised competitive horses going barefoot and booted! I have not looked back and I love my new trimmer. She has done wonders with my horse and his feet are now incredibly healthy. If you are looking to transition your horse, find a trimmer that has spectacular references. I use Easyboot Gloves on the rocky trails and I love them. Keep Riding!

Name: Christine Nichols
City: South Grafton, Massachusetts, USA
Equine Discipline: Eventing
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove

Team Easyboot 2013: Now Accepting Applications

We are excited to announce EasyCare is now accepting applications for Team Easyboot 2013. Team members will be selected based on their knowledge of the EasyCare product line, their diversity of riding activity, and their influence in their community.


Expectations of Team Easyboot Members

If accepted onto Team Easyboot 2013, members are expected to:

  1. Represent EasyCare in a professional and positive manner.
  2. Actively promote and inform others about all EasyCare products and help others in the field.
  3. Be available to assist in boot fitting and to provide advice in person and online.
  4. Submit a photo and a 100-200 word biography.
  5. Blog once a month on the EasyCare corporate blog.
  6. Actively participate with positive interaction and product advice on the Easyboot Facebook page.
  7. Wear Team Easyboot attire at events.
  8. Display Team Easyboot logo on tack, trailers and vehicles.

Summary of Benefits

  1. Access to discounted EasyCare product for personal use.
  2. Access to the EasyCare staff for general booting education and problem-solving.

Note: Product purchased through the Team Easyboot discount program is for personal use only and cannot be resold.

Application

If you would like to be considered for membership in Team Easyboot 2013, please answer a few basic questions in our online application form. Applications will be accepted until 11:59 PM Mountain Standard Time on Sunday, March 31, 2013.

The Selection Process

Members of Team Easyboot 2013 will be selected by a panel of EasyCare staff. The new team members will be announced on Monday, April 8, 2013.

Good luck!

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

Marketing and Sales

I assist the marketing and sales departments at EasyCare with a special interest in hoof care practitioner and veterinarian dealer accounts. My horses have been barefoot and booted since 2003.

 

Boas in the Back Country

The Boa Horse Boot helped Sue the mule do a Back Country Horseman work party on the Pacific Crest Trail!

My good friend Beau LaCrosse wanted to join the Enumclaw Trail Riders of Back Country Horseman of Washington State for a work party. Our BCH chapter's Trail Boss, Tom Saunders, needed help with hauling gravel to a 75 foot turnpike on the Pacific Crest Trail out of Government Meadows Horse Camp.

Beau's mule, Sue, had white line disease on one of her front hooves and was favoring it. Beau had contacted me asking for suggestions on treatment. Since I am unfamiliar with white line disease, I e-mailed my trimmer friends, who are also EasyCare dealers. I asked for advice on the best way to treat the hoof. It was a lot of fun as they each shared their most successful treatment plans. The various treatment plans were shared amonst the group and we all learned new plans and tips. Beau was very thankful for the input. Although, Sue's hoof was now on the road to recovery, she was still tender when worked.

Since Beau wanted to join the work party, he asked for advice on hoof boots.I love a good challenge but how does one find boots in a hurry to fit on mule's hooves? Thankfully, my EasyCare dealer friend, Nancy, at Plateau Vet Supply, had a pair of Boa Horse Boots in stock. Sue seemed to really like her new boots as she walked out across the gravel parking lot towards the trail head. Sue was the important lead animal that day in the mixed string of mules and horses that packed 20 loads of gravel. We made quick work graveling the turnpike and then enjoyed a good lunch together. Food always seems to taste better after some hard work up on the Pacific Crest Trail amongst friends and good animals.                                                                    

Beau and a happy Sue with her Boa boots on, leading the pack string.

Waiting to be reloaded with the buckets of gravel.        

Joey and Chris hard at work filling the buckets.

 Beau taking the gravel to the turnpike we were working on.

Almost done, dumping the last buckets of gravel onto the turnpike.

Beau then took a happily booted Sue to the driving clinic the next week, after the Boa boots passed the test during the work party.

I always enjoy helping out at our Back Country Horseman work parties. To be able to give back to the trails that I enjoy riding on. I would encourage everyone to consider helping out to maintain our trails. It is always a lot of fun!!!

Martha Nicholas

EasyCare at the 2013 AERC Convention

EasyCare will have several representatives at the AERC Convention in Reno, Nevada, on Friday and Saturday, March 8 & 9 2013.

The EasyCare booth (#105/107/206/204) will be right at the entrance to the trade show, and we will have with us some samples of the latest hoof protection device models (yes, that is meant to be obtuse!). We will also be in good company: some endurance legends will be sharing our real estate with us for the entire convention:

  • Julie Suhr will be seated at a table in our booth selling copies of her new book, ...but it wasn't the horse's fault.
  • XP Rides will be set up in the same space and have representatives there to answer any questions you may have on their ride events for the 2013 season.

The conference proves to be another good one, with speaker seminars themed around Think Like a Vet - Learn from the Vets, as well as the trade show, the tack swap, the Friday night dance, the regional awards, the hot topic workshops, and Saturday evening's National awards Banquet. For more details on the conference schedule, see the 2013 AERC Convention Flyer.

Celebrating the 2012 National Mileage and Reserve Mileage Champions.

We will be celebrating several Easybooted rider achievements over the weekend, including 2012 National Mileage Champions, Laurie Birch and Scudd Run, (not to mention 2012 National Mileage Reserve Champions, Carla Richardson and SS Kharady Khid+/). And then of course, there was the 2012 Tevis Cup and 2012 Haggin Cup, both won by Easybooted horses.

The working prototype of the EasyShoe. Do you want to hold it?

And yes, if all goes to plan, we just might also have a sample of the working model of the EasyShoe Garrett wrote about in his March Newsletter blog, The Best of Both Worlds - A Hoof Protection Device That Still Allows The Hoof To Function As A Bare Hoof.

So be sure to stop in and say hello to the gang when you get to the Grand Sierra Resort.

See you there!

Kevin Myers

easycare-marketing-director-kevin-myers

Director of Marketing

I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your equine partner.

 

The Best Of Both Worlds - A Hoof Protection Device That Still Allows The Hoof To Function As A Bare Hoof

I personally believe in the barefoot horse and marvel at what the equine hoof can do.  The equine hoof is an amazing structure that expands and contracts under load, dissipates energy, and aids in blood flow.  Although I believe that a horse should be barefoot whenever possible, I also believe that horses need hoof protection as distance traveled increases, terrain becomes more abrasive, and the loads carried become greater.  We ask unnatural things from our equine partners, far beyond what the bare unprotected hoof can endure. 

Hoof boots are a wonderful invention that can be used on a temporary basis when the hoof needs protection.  The beauty of hoof boots is that the hoof is bare and functioning as nature intended the large majority of the time.  But what about a protection device that can be left on the horse for longer periods of time that still allows natural function? Can a hoof be fitted with a protection device that still allows the hoof to expand and contract, allows the heel to spread, allows the heel to move up and down independently, and also provides support to the frog and heel? 

Looking at the horse world objectively, I believe the majority of people on both sides of the argument agree that horses should spend time barefoot.  In addition, both sides believe horses need protection for many of the activities that their human partners put them through.  Most owners stall horses in man-made environments; many feed them two meals per day, and the majority of us ask our horses to carry 25% of their body weight in grueling events.  We ask unnatural things of our equine partners.  As events become longer, speeds become greater and the footing becomes rougher we can't expect our equine partners to perform without man made protection? - See more at: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/hoof-boot-news#sthash.AGIFoSIJ.dpuf

We have been testing a new glue-on device that can be used for 3-6 week cycles that allows a protected hoof to receive many of the same benefits as a barefoot hoof. 

Heels can move independently up and down.

Heels can expand and contract after the shoe in glued in place. 

The test model EasyShoe provides frog and heel support.  The wide web of the shoe aids in loading the hoof.  The sole is open to air in the center for extended use. 

Open at the toe so breakover can be adjusted

Glue channels and holes are added in several areas of the shoe to better accept adhesives and speed the application process.

Initial testing of the new device for endurance conditioning has been very positive. It should prove a valuable tool for farriers and hoof care professionals and have many uses. 

Uses may include:

  1. I can see it used as a transition device to stimulate the hoof toward a stronger hoof before pulling shoes. 
  2. It may be used by owners who believe the barefoot hoof is the most healthy but want the convenience of long term protection. 
  3. It could also be used in disciplines that don't allow hoof boots.

I'm very excited about the new test shoe and the results I'm seeing on my horses.  I've had many prototypes on my horses over the years and this one is up there with the best I've tested. 

What do you think?  Does the new device have a place in the horse industry? 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

 

Top 10 Tips for Dealer Success in 2013

It is an exciting time at EasyCare. Listed below are the top 10 tips for dealer success in 2013:

Easyboot Glove Back Country

  1. Stock the Top - The Easyboot Trail, Easyboot Glove and Easyboot Glove Back Country are top selling boots. Give your customers the best selection by stocking a variety of boot models. On average, dealers who stock new boot styles grow three times faster than those who don't.
  2. Red Boot & Blue - Customers asked, we answered. The Easyboot Glove is now available in both Red and Royal Blue.
  3. More than Boots - EasyCare also sells stirrups, Stowaway packs and HiTies. Increase sales by stocking these must have items.
  4. Printed Brochure - The brochure is an excellent tool for educating consumers and will be a must-have for clinics and special events. Keep several on hand to share with your customers.
  5. e-Catalog - Looking for more detailed product information? An electronic version of our catalog is available online.
  6. Dealer's Corner - Download EasyCare product images and descriptions for your catalogs, ads and websites.
  7. Dealer Locator - Let us send customers to you! If you are not currently listed, please contact us and we will add you.
  8. Dealer Training - EasyCare Dealer Representatives offer training to you and your staff. Call your representative to set up a training time at your convenience.
  9. Blogs - Read our blog for the latest updates and tips.
  10. Stay Connected - Stay informed on the latest news and products from EasyCare by reading our e-newsletter. EasyCare will offer an exclusive e-newsletter special.

If you have not received your 2013 Dealer Price List, please call your EasyCare Dealer Rep at 800.447.8836.

Dee Reiter

easycare-customer-service-dee-reiter

Retail Account Rep

I am the Retail and New Dealer Account Rep for EasyCare. I will be happy to help you in the ordering process, selecting the most popular styles and sizes of EasyCare hoof boots to stock. Let me help you with suggestions on merchandising and provide training for you and your staff, at your convenience.

 

March 2013: Asa Stephens - Bright Lights, Big City

Our March dealer of the month is hoof care professional, Asa Stephens who calls the city that never sleeps home. Not far from the hustle and bustle of the strip Asa makes her way across the desert helping horses excel with a barefoot lifestyle.

Asa started her career in hoof care first as a farrier, graduating from Western's School of Horseshoeing, shoeing horses for three years in the Las Vegas area. A client's request for a barefoot trim started it all and nudged her into looking at natural hoof care. Asa says, "It just made so much sense. I was quickly sold on the philosophy." She enrolled in AANHCP (Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices) program where she not only graduated but was also a field instructor. While going through the program she was fortunate to have be able to spend three days with Pete Ramey. At that time students were able to mentor with Pete and she considers that opportunity a highlight in her career.

In 2005 she became a part of the EasyCare dealer network and remembers when the Boa Horse Boot was all the rage. These days the Easyboot Glove is her go-to boot for the healthiest of hooves and the toughest of riders. She chooses the Easyboot Glove Back Country for the horse that may be a bit harder to fit and yet is still able to meet the demands of a challenging trail. When it comes to rehab the Easyboot Trail is her favorite because the boot accommodates many padding scenarios and works well for light turnout and light riding. She also notes the Easyboot Trail is perfect for those clients who struggle with boot application due to physical limitations such as arthritic hands or bad backs.

What is her recipe for success? Two key elements, show up on time and be fully prepared for ANYTHING. Her approach is proactive rather than reactive. Asa is diligent in keeping up with the latest research and methodologies in hoof care which results in her services being in constant demand. She recalls when she first started natural hoof care it was easy to focus solely on the trim. Asa quickly realized much like layers of an onion, there is usually so much more to the picture - nutrition, the horse’s living conditions, and saddle fit also play a role. Asa stocks a range of EasyCare hoof boots, pads, accessories, thrush remedies and hay nets. "For me it's about doing a job well. Telling a customer, "I'm sorry, I'm not prepared and I don' have the right  tools" (i.e. hoof boots) is just not an option. Worse yet is to send them to figure it out on their own. What kind of service is that? Ultimately not being prepared costs you. It will cost you in time, money and customer satisfaction. It’s something I do my best to avoid. If I don't take my business seriously who will?"

Asa hits the Nevada trails every chance she gets on her horse Sirocco booted up in Gloves. She is a founding member of the Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners and a member of the American Hoof Association. She conducts booting clinics through PHCP helping to educate other hoof care professionals and the public. She is considered one the best in the business and readily sought after for mentorships.

               

Asa enjoys all aspects of her job but really enjoys transitioning horses out of horseshoes. "Every horse I take out of shoes show so much improvement, how can I not get excited?"

The Other Barefoot Wine Company

My husband Barry and I are in the wine business, and our horses play a prominent role in our company. For the record, we are NOT Barefoot Wines and Bubbly, which is the brand that has the bare human footprint on the label. Our winery, Tamber Bey, is named after Barry’s first two endurance horses, Tamborina and Beyamo. A visit to our property includes a tour of the barn and stables. Guests meet our very-friendly endurance horses and listen intently as we recount their accomplishments. I enjoy pointing out that the horses are barefoot, and I show them an Easyboot, which I describe as a horse’s cross-country running shoe. The guests think this is really cool.

Visitors are awed by our sport—most have never heard of endurance riding and their jaws drop when we tell them about it. We get all the usual questions: “How fast/far do you go? How long does it take? Does your butt hurt? Do you get to rest?” Inevitably, someone will ask what we win. I answer, well, nothing, really. I like to tell guests that I once rode 100 miles and got a jar of beans for a completion award, although I usually get practical prizes, like buckets and mini flashlights. Sometime I’ll get an embroidered horse blanket or a belt buckle. The guest looks dumbfounded, unable to comprehend that we expend so much grueling energy for no significant material reward at the finish.

Barry then launches into his speech about the welfare of the horse and why prize money isn’t awarded. We get a few nods of understanding. I add comments about the “the ride is the prize.” Some guests get it, while others continue to struggle the concept of doing so much for no extrinsic reward. In general, our guests are not horse people and what they know of horse competitions is limited to the lavish Kentucky Derby parties they attend—whether they actually watch the race or not. Say Kentucky Derby and the ladies think hats, not horses. That’s when we pour them another taste of wine and all is good. We’re back on the same page again.

The few horse people we get are interested in the boots. They ask intelligent questions. They understand my explanation about the benefits. We discuss the barefoot movement in other sports. Once in a great while, someone will ask me if barefooting and booting saves me money. To this I answer yes and no. Trimming is obviously much less expensive than shoeing. I was paying $5,200 a year to shoe four horses every six weeks. This does not include the occasional additional charge for pads and clips for a rocky race. I spend $1,500 per year to trim those same four horses. In 2012, I spent approximately $1,500 on Easyboots and gluing products. That’s quite a savings. Also, long after a boot’s tread is worn down too much to use for training, it goes into EuroXcizer duty, where it is useful until holes are worn in the toe—which can be takes months. Can’t do that with old horseshoes.

The “no” part of saving me money pertains to time, which is a form of currency. Neither shoeing nor trimming requires much of my personal time. Professionals do that for me. But the booting is another story. I’ve spent hundreds of hours (or so it seems), chasing lost boots down the trail, repairing broken gators and filing hooves to perfection between trims. I’ve spent many more hours in the barn before a race, covered in glue, with tears of frustration building up. I’m proud of myself for not giving up.

I’m now well past the blood, sweat and tears phase of the shoe-to-boot- transition learning curve and my time burn is minimized. Plus, the wine helps.

And all that cash I’m saving…

Footnote: Last month I introduced you to Mustang trainer Alyssa Radtke. Alyssa is now one month into her training program with her new Mustang Sweet Pea, which she adopted for the Extreme Mustang Challenge in May. Sweet Pea is now completely gentled and desensitized to the many sights and sounds that are part of domestic life. She trailers willingly and Alyssa is starting to ride her. As I write this, the two are participating in a two-day clinic with trainer Wylene Wilson. If you don’t know who she is, check out the award-winning documentary “Wild Horse, Wild Ride.” Have tissues handy.

Jennifer Waitte

An Adventure on the Carbon, or Proof that EasyCare Boots Stay on in Mud

There is an old Burlington Northern Railroad grade in Washington State that starts up near Mount Rainier and runs all the way down to the Puget Sound in Tacoma at the town of Ruston. A section of it runs through my area and I have enjoyed riding on it for many years. The grade is now part of the Foothills Rails to Trails so it is a very popular paved walking, jogging, bike riding and, yes, a horseback riding path. But most of the grade by my house is still undeveloped and primitive. The high side of the railroad grade starts where the old town of Fairfax once was and  runs down along the glacier fed Carbon River to the small town of Carbonado.

For many years, we had been riding from Carbonado up the grade along the river, and under the historic Fairfax bridge to have lunch in the meadow where the old town of Melmont once was. A few years back I was out riding with a friend on the first Saturday of June to celebrate National Trail Day. As we rode down into Wilkeson we came upon a check point  for a relay race that was happening. We just had to stop and inquire about this big event in our small town. It was a check point for the Rainier to Ruston Rails to Trails Relay Race that starts at Mount Rainier National Park and runs 50 miles down to the Puget Sound to Tacoma's Ruston Way. It is now a annual event on National Trail Day and is heading towards the 11th year. Since that chance meeting I have became a fan of the race and each year check to see where the course is running and to find out which sections of the trail are closed or open. Ok I guess I am more of a fan of the old grade even though the runners doing the race amaze me.

My brave riding partner Amber

Well it seemed to me that if these runners were coming down the upper section of the old railroad grade, then maybe a horse or two could also get through it if I planned the ride close to the day of the race and before another wind storm which could possibly block the trail with blown down trees. So I made a plan and a few phone calls, found a willing riding partner, and got ready for the adventure of "riding the Carbon". The plan was to go in with the necessary gear and park a horse trailer at each end of that 6 mile section of grade. We parked one of the trailers in Carbonado and then hauled about 30 minutes up to where the old mining town of Fairfax once was.

The first year I went in with Amber. It was a pretty day and we were filled with the excitement of doing something most would not dare to do as the Carbon is known for taking out bridges and roads, and changing it's coarse on a regular basis. The Carbon Glacier on Mt. Rainier is the largest glacier in the lower 48 and is not a lazy river by any means. The RR grade starts out in a rain forest, thick moss is everywhere. The views of the river are stunning with Old Growth Firs and huge Cottonwood trees four feet in diameter layed out on the round rock that looks like cannon balls coming down through the steep mountains on both sides. About three miles into our adventure, Amber rode ahead of me and I noticed her looking back at me with a concerned look on her face. She had stopped and was waiting for me after she had just ridden across what we fondly called the 'sky bridge'. You can see it in the photo where the black dirt has been eroded and is caving off into the river. That, my friends, is a part of the river that had been washed out leaving a ridge or Hogback instead of the trail. On the river side there was a big steep slide going down to the cold gray river coming off of the Carbon Glacier, and on the other side a big wide gully where the river bed may have been at one time or another. To make it even more interesting (scary), the tread was more like a ridge than a trail. I rode across it trusting my horse Curly, since we had been in similar situations before, but this was neither the time or place to take a wrong step. Well, we caught our breath, enjoyed the moment, and thought about how it might have been, before moving on. We had to stop and do some clearing in spots to get our horses through,  but we made it down to our lower trailer in one piece, and we'll always have a good memory and a story to tell about the first adventure riding on the Carbon River.

Amber heading towards the slide

So time passes, another year goes by and it is June again. National Trail Day is here and the Rainier to Ruston Relay Race happens. I am on-line checking out the course, pondering riding it a 3rd time, wondering who might like to join me. I asked Pam Beall, an EasyCare dealer, and she was willing to give the railroad grade a try since she had heard about my adventures from my previous rides. So on June 7, 2010, we set another 'plan' into action. The ride starts out in a normal way, as most adventures do. We both are in awe of the beauty of the ancient rain forest.  I was noticing how again the trail had been re-routed around some new obstacles that nature had presented during the year before.

And then we came to it, The Mother of all Mud Holes directly in the trail. It was 40 feet long and so bad that the organizers of the relay race laid down 2-3 logs for the runner to walk on, with swamp and standing water on both sides of the logs. Pam and I discuss which side of the logs looked the best, the right side, and she goes for it. t was not pretty, mud was flying but Pam rode it well! Now it was my turn. We had another discussion at opposite ends of the mud hole as our impression of it had just changed, I go for the narrower left side of the logs and Curly and I step into the swamp and we instantly sank down into the water and mud. Oh Crap! Pam starts yelling "Come On Curly" in true gamer style. He was lunging through the mud in huge leaps while avoiding the logs. Pam was busy cheering us on and I almost went for a mud swim but was able to grab the horn and pull myself back into the saddle. Curly managed to get us to the other side in one piece but  we were covered in mud. I even had some on top of my helmet. Pam and I both had our horses booted up so we checked boots and all were still on. Good thing because there would have been no finding a lost boot in that muddy mess.

We had a good laugh about it and continued on down the trail. Only to hit another mud hole. For some reason our horses hesitated and questioned us but easily went through the much smaller safer mud hole. Did not blame them, they are good horses and take care of us. Riding through it once was enough for both of us. The spring of 2010 was a very rainy spring so we encountered a lot more water on the trail, streams, mud, detours, and more challenges then I had the previous two years. We were able to reach where the sky bridge was so we stopped for a break and to take a few photos of the river when we realized we should have taken photos after going through the huge mud hole. Some people might have been miserable but we took it all in stride. I was thankful to have Pam and Cookie with us that day, a lesser team would of had some trouble with what we had to over come. We had ridden through numerous streams, so our horses were cleaned up some but one can still see the mud on the horses. In one photo Pam is pointing to how deep Curly went into the mud. And again, all of the boots on both horses were still on.

You may notice from the pictures that the river had moved  away from the slide area from the first ride.

The rest of the ride continued to presented more challenges but at least the sky bridge was safer. We continued down the grade, riding through the old ghost mining town of Melmont, under the historic old Fairfax bridge, down into Carbonado to our lower horse trailer with some tired horses.

Pam enjoying the view of the Carbon River at the beginning of our ride

My husband, Mike, and I went for a hike earlier this month on the RR grade  to take some pictures. I wanted to show you what the Mother of all Mud Holes looked like. It has been 2 1/2 years since I had seen but I have shared the story numerous times. Lately the question most asked is 'do my boots stay on in mud', and yes, I then repeat this story again. And conclude it each time with 'I have never lost a boot to mud'. I have had boots come off in a wide variety of ways but have never lost a boot to mud.

This is a painting under the Manley Moore bridge in the town of Fairfax which is the beginning of the historical railroad grade.

What  the 40 foot mud hole looks like now, 2 1/2 years after we rode through it. I was happy to see that there was a new trail put in that avoids this mud hole.

I have ridden the grade 3 times now and it is always an adventure. And yes I have plans to go for it again, maybe this June. Sometime around National Trail Day when the Rainier to Ruston Relay Race always happens. When I know the grade will be the most open/ cleared and the best chance for horses to make it down it. But I must admit that after the 2010 ride with Pam, I have more respect for that old Railroad grade and if I come upon anything like we did that day, I may just do my horse a favor, turn around and ride back to the horse trailer and call it a good day.

Martha Nicholas, Team Easyboot Member
Buckley, Wa