Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot Member
At the last minute in October, my friends, Colleen Martin, Beth Nicholes and I decided to meet up in Central Oregon for “The Haunting” endurance ride. Colleen would ride my gelding, Z Blue Lightening; Beth would ride The Big Brass, and I had my red beast, Z Summer Thunder. We’d do our best to get one more ride in before the season ended.
Not only did this mean my friend Colleen Martin had to drive about 500 miles one way from Northern Washington to meet Beth and I, but it also meant I had 3 horses to pack up and get ready to go to the ride. That means three times everything, feed, tack, gear and oh yes – Easyboots.
Did I have that many Easyboots that would hold up for 50 miles? Especially when all three horses use the same size boot on their hind hooves? It’s a good thing I never throw stuff away and have a stockpile of boots stashed. some people say I hoard them but really I’m just saving spares! I had to dig through vet check bags, cantle bags, pommel bags, tack trunks, every corner I could think of to come up with a dozen “good useable” boots. I had one spare 1.5 Glove for Thunder’s fronts, a spare size 1 for Blue or Brass in front, and rounded up one extra size 0.5 for the hinds spare. Plus I had one Epic that we could make work as a spare. “We better pack a roll of duct tape,” I told Colleen, “so we can patch whatever they tear up!”
I took my collection of boots, mallet and hoof pick and we booted all three horses the night before the ride. One reason for doing it the night before was I figured it would be cold in the morning, and warm Easyboot Gloves go on much easier than half frozen ones do. Plus with that task being done, it allowed more time for other important things like Colleen making our PB&J sammies for the vet check.
Vet bags with lunches were taken to the trailer to be hauled out to the vet check. We were saddled and ready as a beautiful sunrise invited us out to the trail.
The trail headed out through the pines from the historic Gebhardt Well Ranch once owned by Reub Long. It had also been used as a vet check in the 80’s on some of the old Oregon endurance rides. The wind was raging but we tried to think positive and hoped it would die down as the trail routed around the amazing Hole in the Ground, which is one of many geographic formations in the Fort Rock area. Hole in the Ground is what the scientists call a maar, a mile wide explosion crater. You can sort of see some of it behind Beth and Colleen.
The three boys trotted on through raging wind, volcanic rock outcroppings and deep sand, past old log remnants left by the pioneers, and the Gloves never failed. Brass is famous for losing his but the addition of power straps has been a life saver.
The vet check was located in a grove of rocks which provided us a small windbreak. The horse’s pulses dropped right away and we grabbed our vet check crew bags and set up the chow line for the boys. They ate, Colleen and Beth chased blankets that insisted on blowing away and I removed boots, cleaned and put them back on.
After we left the vet check the wind speed picked up. I’m not sure how scrawny little Beth kept from blowing away but she stayed on. We were grasping mane, saddle, anything we could to keep from getting blown out of the saddle. The wind would blow Thunder sideways and I knew the horses were really working hard. But they never faltered and neither did our boots! Every forward step bucking that wind was like two or three steps! And then the crazy weather really slammed us. A wall of rain lay ahead of us, you could see it coming, and it when it hit, oh my gosh was it cold! We went from dry deep sand to running water down the trail in a matter of miles and minutes. The last few miles were an eternity. Brass being the greenest of the herd wanted to just stop and turn tail to the storm. The veterans knew better and that helped Beth keep Brass on the trail. Boy we were glad to finish. But in the rain we had to unsaddle, blanket and vet through for completion. Thank goodness that went well. The three of us all completed with flying colors!! Our time for 55 miles, 6 hrs and 35 minutes, and despite the nasty wind and freezing rain, the boys looked fine. We however were freezing and hovering around the heater trying to warm up! Nothing like a great and successful endurance ride!