Submitted by Leslie Spitzer, Team Easyboot 2012 Member
As an endurance rider I find myself being very goal oriented for the most part in my riding. I worry about the mileage I need to get in for training, the speed I need to go and if we will be properly prepared for upcoming rides. I worry about making sure my trim is current and that my boots fit just right. Will we be going up hills at speed? Should I tape or not? Should I touch up the toes just a bit first? It can be exhausting.
Sometimes it is nice to take a time out, slow down and smell the roses - or in this case, the bouquet. That would be the bouquet of fine California wines I would be speaking of. Two weeks ago I attended the Spring Stampede Winery Ride in Livermore, California. The ride is put on by CHSA Region 5 and is a fundraiser for their Trail Trials program. The ride is 6 miles long and basically you ride in staggered groups to three wineries in a guided group. The trail winds through the vineyards which are surrounded at the moment by green foothills. It is quite idyllic: horses are only allowed ever in the vineyards during this ride. At the wineries the horses all get tied in a specified area and are watched by volunteers and fed carrots. The riders all head into the winery and enjoy gourmet food and wine.
I brought Spider for a friend to ride. Spider is a big, strapping grey gelding and he went with the rugged, yet sophisticated look wearing the new Back Country boots for his hoof wear. I brought my horse Eagle for myself. He went the more elegant route wearing the equine equivalant of the little black dress: Gloves with black power straps, fronts only. Classic and understated. After all this was a high society event. My friend Pamela brought three of her horses all oufitted in Gloves as well.
Spider and Eagle in their finest footwear.
The ride starts out from the Stampede Grounds which is in an urban area. Traffic is stopped on a busy street for the horses to cross and then it is on into the beautiful vineyards and our first stop.
Heading out to the vineyards.
Beautiful future Vino!
The first winery stop was at Murrietta's Well. It is a beautiful winery. Here we enjoyed appetizers and some really good wines. A favorite always at this stop is an appetizer made with cream cheese, brown sugar and a touch of vanilla to dip apples in. Heavenly!
Eagle patiently awaiting my return.
After Murrietta's Well we rode through the vineyards eventually arriving at a very large facility. This is a combined stop of Wente Vineyards and Tomas. The horses were all tied to large, flatbed trailers which doesn't sound so safe, but actually was.
Yum another carrot stop!
At Wente we enjoyed more really nice wine and light lunch. This included Pulled Pork Sliders, cheeses, veggies, fruits, and dips. Very good. After lunch Tomas provided yet even more delicious wine tasting incuding a to die for Barbera Port. I am not a port fan but oh wow. They also provided the dessert course which was cheesecake with a Zinfandel Chocolate Port sauce and Strawberries which you could dip into a warm chocolate mixture.
Dessert at Tomas Winery.
After this leisurely stop it was time to heave our full and relaxed selves back onto our horses and make our way back a couple miles or so to the Stampede Grounds where we could pick up our purchases before heading home. Our group was a mixture of all types of people and horses, from ponies on up to a Clydesdale. There were pleasure horses all the way up to high end eventer horses. The question of the day for our booted gang of Arabs was "Are you guys endurance riders?"
Groups arriving and leaving a winery. Horses everywhere.
Spider heading back wearing his Back Country Boots. He was pretty good for his (new to horses) rider, despite being convinced this must be an endurance ride.
It was a fabulous, warm California spring day and everybody had a great time. The best thing for me was just slowing down and having fun. It was really nice to just know we were going out for a trail ride, nice and relaxed and nothing technical. It took me all of two minutes to slap both horses boots on. No need for tape or touch ups. I knew I wouldn't have to give them a second thought and I didn't. I encourage all you goal-oriented and driven types to take days like these with the only goal being to relax and have a good time. Excellent brain-training for our goal oriented equines as well. If any of you live in the Northern California area I encourage you to check out this event. This was my third time attending and I will definitely be back next year.