Keeping the Endurance Gods Happy

Subitted by Karen Corr, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I have tempted fate - in my last blog about Endurance Riding in the UK, I upset the endurance gods by mentioning that Looey would do a 65km ride soon. Don't you know that planning endurance rides is bad: the gods then rain down all the bad luck they can throw at you and you end up watching TV all weekend So what happened to my plans?

Because we had a viral lurgy going round our horses, I decided to wait until I was 99% sure Looey hadn't succumbed and took a late entry for a ride in Cumbria. That was ten days before the ride. Eight days before the ride, I took him on a 20 mile training ride in the Pennine Hills which surround our home - he coughed twice - maybe he had some hay stuck or had swallowed a fly (yeah right, trying to kid myself). However, he flew round 20 miles of tough going in his Easyboot Gloves and felt great. 

Many of the tracks are littered with stones like this, hoofboots are essential!

The following day I had planned (yep, don't remind me, plans are bad) to take him to the gallops for some fast work on a decent surface. We haven't been to our local gallops for nearly two years - they used to be great - 1 mile long and undulating with a couple of straight stretches to let rip. I'll usually do about 10 miles of circuit training type work to help with cardiovascular fitness. This time we decided to take my partner's five year-old old mare to keep Loo company. I was going to ride her and Bond would ride Looey - a couple of stone extra on his back would make him work harder too.

However, disappointment number one = the gallops had been shortened - in fact, halved in length. Disappointment number two = the hire had increased in price. Disappointment number three = the surface hadn't been maintained recently and was very uneven and only suitable for trotting/cantering carefully. But, we were there, so decided to get on with the job in hand and then the penultimate happened - the minute we asked the horses to trot, they both convulsed into a fit of coughing - Hamra was much worse than Looey but Bond said he felt like the hand-brake was on, so we packed up and went home with heads hung and tails between our legs. The following day they both had mucus and were congested - vet was rung and copius amounts of antibiotics and mucolytics prescribed.

However, I still had an entry to the ride and we had one horse (actually, a pony) fit to go - our little coloured cob - Squiggle. She had only been back in work for a few weeks after recovering from the "lurgy", so we downgraded to a non-competitive distance. Yeah, on an upper again - we were going to one of my favourite rides and the forecast had changed from rain to sunshine.

What could go wrong now? The endurance gods rained down some more bad luck - my 4 x 4 power steering had been leaking, it is a company car which is leased and the lease company decided that it was dangerous to drive and took it off the road two days before the ride - grrrr. The garage were not going to give me a like for like car as a replacement i.e not a 4 x 4 with a tow bar, but the guy from the lease company must have felt sorry for me and somehow persuaded my bosses boss to approve the hire of a Landrover for me for the weekend. Talk about cutting it fine - 5.30 PM on a Friday afternoon, I end up driving home from the garage in a brand new, top of the range, all singing, all dancing, Landrover Discovery - maybe all the prayers were starting to appease the powers that be. Thanks, Rick.

I did have one more dilemma, to boot or not to boot: we had used the Glove Back Country boots on Squiggle but she's got a lot of feather and trying to tuck that lot in was an issue.

Squiggle after a ride with BC's behind and Gloves in front - too much feather!

I knew the Gloves were ok but we had to put athletic tape round her hooves since she dishes and the boots twist. I hadn't used power straps on her Gloves yet and thought she'd be OK without them. In the end, I decided just to boot her front hooves with Gloves.

Sunday dawns and it's ride day - off we tottle up the motorway into to Cumbria and two hours later arrive at Tebay. Squiggle was very excited - this was her first journey in the trailer on her own since we'd bought her last year. We were very early for our class, but we slipped to the vets while they were quiet. Lynn took her heart rate - it was 50, yes, she was excited. I tacked her up quickly, and we were off.

Squiggle all "dolled" up in her endurance gear! (borrowed from Looey!)

Squiggle turbo-trotted the whole way. The views were spectacular and the weather perfect.

Everything was going great until we got to a ford about 2/3 of the way round. I happened to look down into the ford since it looked as if it could be slippy and it was then I noticed her front near fore boot had twisted - damn! We crossed the ford and I got off, undid the gaiter but by then her hoof, tape and Glove were sopping wet - I knew it wasn't going to stay put if I put the Glove straight on her wet hoof.

There was a long section of road up to the checkpoint and I figured that if I left the boot off, her hoof would be dry by the time we got there, I could put more tape round her hoof (I had taken some with me) and hopefully the Glove wouldn't twist for the rest of the route. And that is what I did: someone's crew held her for me. It was obvious when I was putting it back on that the Glove shell had become more pliable with the increased ambient temperature and was flexing more, hence it was twisting round with her funny action. I used all the tape on the spool and still the boot went on easier than I would've liked - power straps are definitely required! However, we didn't have far to go and the going was all ancient, springy turf on the way home. She was then rewarded with a slurp of sloppy fibre mash. 

She soon learned that snorting it up through her nostrils got lots of laughs and attention.

 

And the moral to this story is - keep going, don't give up, it'll turn out all right in the end, so long as you keep the Endurance Gods happy. Oh, and remember the booting mistakes you've made in the past and don't think you'll get away with it second time round! 

And the next ride is?


Karen Corr


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