Submitted by Susan Gill, Team Easyboot 2012 Member
I've enjoyed my time as a Team Easyboot member over the past few years and my favourite tee-shirt is a visual testament that TE people (and barefooters generally) probably don't switch off - ever.
Barefoot and booting are a lifestyle for us and our horses. My tee-shirt is worn as a banner, a personal motivator, a comfortable best friend, and preferred clothing to get caught in for those unexpected midnight awakenings when camping at horse events. It's been run ragged literally but I am sure it will be around one way or another for some time yet, even if it gets multi-coloured cuffs and neckband repairs.
Joby is much more photogenic than me so she got the modelling job showing my special tee-shirt.
This year has been a fairly high learning curve, generally through experience, reflection and discussion. The experiences have generally been wonderful, the reflections have ranged from light-globes to bricks and the discussions often highlight or reinforce individual opinions.
My gluing protocol has developed according to the hooves being booted. I have learned that styles need to be as individual as the horse - this was never more apparent than during my attempt at the Shahzada Memorial 400km Test in August this year.
Relaxing at our campsite seriously discussing rides strategies - right.
4 riders (2 x TEB, 1 x booter, 1 who shoes) + our Camp Rouseabout (mum of another TE12 member) all of which meant we had 3 horses to have shells glued on. Success rate? 2 horses = 100%. One horse - my Joby = 25% by day 3. By the end of our ride people were commenting on Joby's colourful footwear - a different colour power strap for each boot as we lost a glue-on and put on a spare three different times.
What was the difference? Her gait - she paddles? Her hoof shape - possibly very slight flares? The shells - fingerprints on the inside from attaching power straps? All these points have been discussed before and likely it will continue to happen if I can't be 100% diligent in all areas I have control over.
Past experience had already demonstrated that Joby was likely to lose boots so I carried a spare front and a spare hind for every ride loop. And each day I got use one while out on track. I had learned that taping around her hooves with Mueller's adhesive tape worked well. Glueing was the obvious choice for a 5-day marathon but taping the spare boots each day actually proved the more successful option in keeping the boots on. We never lost a taped boot and never developed any rubs either. Jenny Moncur my TE12 partner did an amazing joby booting Joby each day, taking care to follow all the documented tips regarding rub prevention with nappy-rash powder, taping fetlocks with vet-wrap etc.
I ended up withdrawing on track Day 4 when Joby "hit her limit" mentally. It was a personal best for both Joby and myself, successfully completing 3 consecutive days of 80km of what I consider the most challenging, amazing and enjoyable track in Australia. Already I am planning for Shahzada 2013, knowing we have had a great experience this year to provide the base for our next attempt.
Some last minute adjustments before starting at 4 am. Check out the fancy footwear of the strappers (crew)!
Now Jenny, Joby and I have just returned from our state championships where Joby and I completed the 160km event. Did we glue? No...and Yes! Our preferred method was a combination of Mueller's tape around her hooves for adhesion, with sikaflex underneath for shock absorption rather than glueing power. Chosen boots were Gloves with gaiters rather than shells - for this ride I was leaving nothing to chance. The Gloves didn't budge except from our choice when we felt the desire to check them. No rubs, no losses, no concussion, no worries.
This photo provided by Main Event Photography. Shahzada Day 1 in clean gear with matching footwear all round.
Our hybrid glueing methods for 2013 are yet to be determined but I know one thing for sure: we'll be back and bootin' like always.