Submitted by Tennessee Lane, Team Easyboot 2014 Member
Getting involved in an equestrian sport is a much bigger deal than getting involved in your average neighborhood softball league or cycling club. I'm willing to bet that there are few sports that can rival the amount of time, money, knowledge and emotion that is involved. Over the past couple of years I have taken several individuals from "square 1" to racing 50 milers on their own, and it was not an easy task, but it was a very fulfilling one. There is no checklist, no rule book, no school, the experience of this "craft" must be passed down, be it human-to-human, or human-to-horse, or horse-to-human. When you get in to cycling, you don't have to train the bike, you don't have to feed it every day, the bike doesn't even have to like you. And there are bike shops everywhere.
In the equestrian field, first of all you really have to want it, to have the grit to follow through and fulfill your dreams, but you also have to "feel" your way through. I could pull someone off the sidewalk downtown and explain very carefully, in detail, something as simple as how to get on a horse. But much to my dismay, when a horse walks up, they'll still look silly and fail the first time. There are a lot of people out there with a lot of knowledge and experience, even if it's basic. It's that basic experience that gives beginners the biggest boost so that they can eventually fend for themselves on the trail.
There is SO MUCH to learn, from conformation and picking a horse, to basic care, to feeding and supplementation, to training, and then there's equipment, from simple tack to performance gear and dont forget the truck and fracking trailer! That's just the beginning of a really long intangible list. There's so much to teach a person, just like there's so much to teach a young colt when you start them, it's impossible to describe everything, they just have to feel their way through it, we say they need "wet saddle blankets." That old line is hard to explain but nothing can replace EXPERIENCE, on-the-job, in-the-field, hands-on, bloodsweatandtears and it all starts with a mentor.
(Below) Once-a-Rookie, Indy Lane, learning to trim his own horse. He's now trimming, booting, and traveling to races on his own, having learned how to ride just a year earlier.
As if the equestrian world isn't tough enough we've decided to take hoof care in to our own hands, so now a significant portion of time needs to be dedicated to teaching how to trim, maintain, and protect our horse's beautiful hooves. Just like no vet knows your horse's norms as well as you, no farrier can compete with your level of hoofcare if you take it into your own hands. No hoof, no horse. The best equine athelete out there can't do what he does best without proper hoofcare, so it's far from a back-burner issue. So often I see horses with horrid hoofcare, even people who just had the farrier do a $200 job, it's all shiny and pretty and the left heel is an 1" taller than the right...hello, Hi Lo?!?! (Invision me with one corner of my smile up, shaking my head slowly at the ground, hands on my hips, trying not to point and stare.)
I'm asking each of you to mentor someone in your lives, to whatever level you are comfortable. Teach them the basics, and if you know more than the basics, teach them that too. Teach someone to look at a horse's feet and identify basic structures so that they can "eyeball" the common mistakes that are often made and maybe even help correct them. Teach someone how to do a maintenace trim. Teach someone how to put a EasyBoot on. Offer some sagely advice, and always be willing to listen to it when it's offered to you.
Help someone who is struggling with something that you have mastered. Be patient. Mastering a craft takes years - and a mentor.
Once-a-Rookie, Mike Le Roux, now doing 100% of his own hoofcare, booting, and Top 10ing at 50 mile races on his own. (Below)
(Below) Sponsoring junior rider Jackie Smith (12yo) through her first 100 mile ride, the Big Horn 100 (2014) in Glue-Ons on both horses - Moxy and Pixiedust.