125 Down and 100 To Go

By Tami Rougeau, Team Easyboot 2001 Member

It has only taken a few days to finally be able to sit down at the computer and nail down all the thoughts and reflections.  Wow, what a weekend it was- to say the least.  There were so many great things that happened, good lessons learned, challenges overcome and a few disappointments but all in all, a great weekend for Little Miss May and me.  Jumping straight to the end, we finished the NASTR 75, completing the second leg of the NASTR Triple Crown.  I am so proud of this mare and all that she has accomplished.  Now for the interesting parts.

May happily heading down one of the nicer roads

The planning for this ride began weeks ago with agonizing over the boot configuration.  This ride is one of the most rocky rides I can think of (second only to VC 100) so extra cushion is definitely in order.  The Easyboot Glove is by far my most favorite boot of all time and I am hard pressed to use anything else.  Glue-Ons are great and I like them as well but the whole gluing thing is just harder than Gloves.  After sorting through my collection and seeing what I had I finally decided to go with Gloves but to add Goober Glue to provide the added cushion as well as security needed for this really tough ride.  The plan was to glue on Thursday when the ranch was quiet and so that I would not be rushed trying to get out the door on Friday.

The nice thing about using Goober Glue is that it is easy to apply and easier to remove from both the boot and the hoof upon completion.  The down side is that it takes 12-24 hours to really set up so not good to use solo with Glue Ons.  The gaiters on the Gloves help to stabilize the boot while the glue sets up.  This week I would be able to perform both methods as I was able to help another rider with her Glue ons as well.  More on that later in another post.

Since I had not glued on boots for about 8 months I reviewed the helpful videos on the Easycare site.  Determined that I indeed had everything I needed and with a solid plan I set out to get the job done.  At this point I do have to caveat that while terrifically helpful, the videos lack a certain level of reality, in that no one gets any glue anywhere it does not belong.  There should probably be a lead in that explains that if you end up with glue on yourself, your horse, your trailer, your driveway etc you are not a clutsy failure, just normal.  For this reason most of us realists have a set of clothes that are only used for glueing.  The chosen attire for this job is old sneekers, jeans and long sleeved shirt along with gloves and since I have long hair, ties and hat to keep it all covered and out of the way (completly, ponies and braids are glue magnets).  Don't ask me how I know that you will have to cut your hair if you get glue in it (especially if it falls over your shoulder and becomes attached to the boot that is attached to a hoof).  But I digress.

First part of the process was to assess the fit of the boots that were to be used.  To my horror May's feet had grown out at an alarming rate in the previous two weeks.  Part of this is probably due to the wetter than normal conditions here in Northern Nevada.  I do not like to really trim the week before this ride, it is just too rocky.  May tends to have really wide feet and this was the issue more than anything.  I am a bit of a coward when it comes to doing too much adjustment so I called my trimmer who told me to grab my big girl rasp and just do it!  She is so confident.  In the end it really did not take much to get the feet shaped back up and fitting nicely into 1.5's in the front and 1's in the back.  Cleaned out the bottoms and applied athletic tape.  All set for the glueing.  Put the glue in the gun, puncture seal, squeeze...and squeeze...and squeeze.  Nothing.  The glue would not come out.  Take apart the gun, stick a nail in the glue to make sure it is soft, try again.  Nothing.  When in doubt muscle it, right?  This resulted in the seal breaking at the top of the tube, not good.  Not to be detered I used my blade to cut open that dratted tube of glue, sliced it down the side and opened it right up.  Yep, good glue on the inside and a not so good part right at the top that had clogged it up.  Since Goober glue takes so long to set up I just pulled out my spatula and frosted the glue directly on the bottom of the hoof.  Sort of like the video where Kevin squirts the glue on the hoof then spreads it with the spatula (and stays perfectly clean and does not get any on the horses leg) - only different (and it got up my sleeve somehow and on my horses leg). 

Popped on the boot, gave it a bit of a tap with the mallet  and checked the fit one last time.  There was not a big glob of glue coming out of the back of the boot so I was a bit concerned that I had not used enough but it would have to do, use a bit more on the other feet.  Repeat the process for the next three feet and the deed was done.  The glue only came up a bit in the back but I could feel it so just left it alone and hoped that it would work out.  The gaiters were secured as well to keep the boots in place and May got to stand on the trailer with a bag of yummy hay all to herself for a couple of hours.

Sorry, no photos.  After the tube exploded I was distracted from the camera.  Probably a good thing because it may have become glued to me.  It all worked out nicely and I did not end up wasting the tube of glue.  The amount used was probably comparable to if the gun had worked.  I am chalking this event up to old glue.  There were two tubes and I thought I picked up the new one but apparently not.  The tube that was used was probably from last fall.  Lesson learned.

The rest of the pack up and get out process was uneventful.  There was a lot of prep for this ride as all of the holds are out of camp so you have to be prepared.  For me that means a variety of food and drink items "just in case" so that there will be something that sounds OK.  For May it means lots of everything as she is not too particular and just loves to eat.  We arrived in camp and were set up nice and early.  We parked toward the back and blocked out space for our camp buddies - Lucy, Leslie, Liegh and Crysta.  May was a bit worried that she would be all by herself when we first parked.  Did I mention that she came into season the day before - great!  Soon after the rest of the party showed up and boy was May happy to see Uno.  That would be an understatement.  That poor boy!  She was soooo in love.  Then Diego showed up on her other side.  Talk about one happy mare!  YEESH!!! 

Crew bags were laying about and we were all double checking that we had what we needed and who had what in case we needed something else.  Short of extra horses we had everthing and then some that any of us would need.  We had a lovely evening of dinner and company then off to bed for our 0500 start (ick). 

The morning came far too soon but we were up and at it, ready to go on time.  That is until the door to my trailer would not shut and Kim the ride manager came over to make sure we were OK.  "You're late" she said, to my horror.  It was only 4 minutes after but everyone else had left.  She managed to fix the door and we were off.  Lucy and I were riding together with the lovebirds (well, May was in love and Uno was, well...not impressed).  The horses moved out nicely over the first few miles of decent road.  We knew that the canyons which lay ahead of us were going to be slow going so it was nice to start out with a good pace.  Our goal for the day was just to finish since this is the second of a three ride series.  A game of attrition throughout the season and keeping your horse sound through three increasingly tough rides.

Rock formations of Illinois Canyon

The canyons were amazing as always.  The trail is rocky so fairly slow going but allows for ample time to take in the beautiful rock formations.  Not far into this loop Lucy's stirup broke.  She was able to jerry-rig it fairly well but it was not comfortable.  Due to the large amounts of snow and rain this year there was green grass all along the trail for the horses to graze on.  What a treat!

Better footing of Eldorado Canyon, just before it gets worse again

We came into the first check at 26 miles.  May vetted through quickly with good marks - to inlcude the "ridiculous" heart rate of 42.  To our horror however, Uno was off and he and Lucy were wisked away by the rescue trailer.  We barely had time to fret before she was gone.  May, on the other hand, did fret - alot!  One of the great volunteers (and probably one of the best crew husbands around) Daryl was kind enough to hold May and try to calm her.  She repaid him by covering him in wet mash, how embarassing.  But he is a great guy and just laughed it off.  When it was time to go I was not terribly confident that May would be happy going out by herself.  Of note, we were last so no one was going to catch us.  Our friend Carolyn was about seven minutes ahead of us but I was not so sure we would catch her if May refused to go.

With the volunteers encouraging us I saddled up and prepared to coax my little mare out of the hold.  When the timer said, OK you can go, May took off!  Holy Cow!  How long could this last, surely she would stop and run back to the camp?  But no, she just put on her big girl trot and went wonderfully along at a nice steady pace.  We hit the long sandy downhill and I got off to walk her down.  A short walk and we met up with Carolyn and Okay and we joined up.  What a relief!  This loop is known as The Death March and seems to just go on and on.  The temps were cooler and the horses moved along nice grazing as they went.  Out along the flat we met up with a most handsome wild horse.  He would have been nice to look at but since May was in heat we did not dawdle and thankfully she put her tail down and stuck to Okay like glue.  Just as we arrived back to camp a slight drizzle began. 

May's wild horse suitor, nice but no thanks she saidThe last decent view of the mountains.  They would remain shrouded in clouds the rest of the day.

The horses vetted quickly but May was not given a good score on gut sounds.  The vet said she was a little quiet.  That was a bit concerning after all that she had eaten and all the pooping but other than that she looked great and once again had that low heart rate.  Vet said not to worry and sent us back out.

We had a great surprise when we arrived as well.  Lucy had decided to come back and help us out after she had tended to Uno.  It was so wonderful to have her there.  As the rain clouds continued to move in we doned our slickers and rain pants and headed out for another 10 mile loop.  May had developed a slight rub on her right front leg so we also applied a neoprene sleeve to help protect it.  Other than that, boots were working out great so far.

It continued to rain on us the entire loop.  We made it back in, only looking slightly like drowned rats.  This time the vet said, "good gut sounds", and gave May A's.  What a relief.  No more photos due to rain and the fact that the camera was under too many layers.  After what seemed like the longest 20 minute hold ever we set out to do the last 14 miles back home through the canyons.  The roads were becoming really slippery so we were careful.  Carolyn was also using Gloves so we were well matched that way.

Off on the last loop in the rain, photo from Lucy Trumbull

Shortly we began the long drop down the canyon.  This is always a good place to get off and walk but with the wet conditions it was even more so.  The horses did not do too bad but they did slip and slide a bit.  It was good for us to walk as well as it helped to keep us warmer.  Thankfully it was just wet and not really cold.  The sun set as we hit the bottom of the canyon, and it continued to rain.  It was errily pleasant out there that night.  With just the sound of our horses feet, water trickling through normally dry creeks+ and thousands of croaking frogs.  There were the occassional kids with four-wheel drives out playing in the mud and trying to get stuck (wonder if their parents knew?) but only one really creepy group that we trotted away from quickly.

Up and out of the canyon we came, back to the road we had left so many hours earlier.  It was still raining on us and the night was crisp but not yet cold.  At about 9:45 we finally made it into camp.  Vets, friends and ride management were there to meet us and miraculously it stopped raining.  Both horses vetted through with flying colors.  The vet said that May looked great and her gut sounds were better than they had been all day.  Always good to get compliments from the vet at the end of a tough ride.

Back at the trailer Lucy helped me get May settled in.  Everything was so wet and soggy but at least the rain held off till we were done.  A hot bowl of chili from the ride manager and we were back to bed for a few hours sleep.  What a day, what a trail and what a horse.

Back home at the ranch on Sunday everything was set out to dry and get washed.  The thought of things mildewing was incentive enough to take care of these items straight away.  My saddle was still soaking wet so it actually got to go in the house (the husband only asked a few times how long it was going to remain inside...).  May got to go relax and since it proceeded to rain all day on Monday I did not get around to taking her boots off til Tuesday.  Very impressive indeed just how stuck on these boots were after all that water and rocky, hilly terrain.   I have decided that it is not the glueing I hate it is the removing of glued on boots that is the real issue.  Anyway, with a bit of prying they came off and the hooves were all fine.  Even after nearly 6 full days.  The Goober Glue came out of the boots and off of the hooves cleanly with very little effort on my part.

The recap:

Great Things That Happened
  1. We finished! and got good vet scores!
  2. May was happy and relaxed all day
  3. The rain slicker was packed in my cantle pack when I needed it
  4. Got to spend the day with really great people and thier horses
  5. The boots stayed on without any issues through quite the challenge

Lessons Learned
  1. If the Goober Glue tube fails you can just use a spatula and put the glue on the hoof, it works just fine (you cannot do this with Adhere or if you are using Adhere as it sets up too fast)
  2. When using the older style gaiters on May always remember to use the neoprene cuffs so she does not get rubs.
  3. Always put your rain slicker on the saddle when there is a prediction of rain and don't forget the pants too.
  4. Getting trailer and gear cleaned up the same day you get home sure makes the rest of the week nice.
  5. It only takes about 3 days to dry out a completely soaked saddle

Challenges Overcome
  1. The trail, the trail, the trail
  2. The rain, the rain, the rain
  3. May left camp by herself and happily moved down the trail
  4. Didn't get overly frustrated with the exploding glue and it worked out fine

Yes, it was a good weekend.  Now to plan for the next one!

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