Submitted by Karen Bumgarner

The Owyhee Chills Endurance ride was a late addition to the Northwest ride calendar and when I told my friend, Linda Ballard, about going, she said her mare was ready for her first 50 miler. So the plan was to ride together, and Blue would keep her green horse comfortable and less nervous. I think it’s always good to pair an experienced horse with a green one. Then I started kicking around the thoughts of, “Boy I wish Brass was ready for his first 50, that’d be great.” I had previously had tender footed symptoms with him, but he had doing well for the last month, even on hard footing, using Easyboot Epics. Ever since I’d pared out two more layers of old abscesses, he had been moving out sound. 

It was a 3 month long process but by finally relieving the sole pressure of layers of old abscesses, The Big Brass had no more lameness issues. 

Thursday before “Chills”, I needed to get Blue out for a ride. Brass had also had two days of riding in the ring, and needed some trail time. I called my friend, Leni Nicholes, and asked if I could borrow her daughter, Beth, so I could get two horses out. Beth is 13, and quite the little rider. She had helped with Brass’ training while he was at their place and I take her riding a lot. Well one thing leads to another and it wasn’t long before we got to the “Ask your folks and if you still want to ride 50 miles, we can do that.” We are a crazy bunch!

Since I worked Friday, night we loaded up at 5:30 Saturday AM and headed for Oreana, ID., arriving at 7 AM. That left us an hour and a half till start time at 8:30. I used the 6 mm comfort pads inside Brass’ Epics on his front hooves. But he had never been booted in the hind, just had gone bare. Was now the time to use boots and have my “green bean” horse do something stupid? I decided to leave him bare in back for the first 25 and boot him later. Normally the footing is quite soft and sandy. And that is exactly how I vetted him in, Epics in front, and bare in back, trotting over the rocks sound as could be and looking ready to rock and roll. Blue was outfitted in his Easyboot Gloves on all four hooves.

Easyboot Epic with 6 mm comfort pads.

By the time we started, everyone had left already. Linda’s green horse had a bit of confusion, “What, I have to leave camp?” But once she was out of camp and on the trail we were fine. Just trotting along listening to Beth sing as we traveled down the trail. The “green beans” were doing superbly. We encountered some rocky places, and we walked where ever it was rocky since Brass was barefoot in back. But he never took one bad step and our first loop was absolutely uneventful and totally fun! The green horses were happy and Beth was still singing.

The Big Brass in his Epics with Beth Nicholes aboard, doing their very first 50 mile ride, and enjoying the beautiful view.

Back in camp after 25 miles, the horses vetted through beautifully. Ride manager Regina Rose had to remind us how slow we were. I told her we’d pick it up the next loop because I was booting the rear hooves on Brass. While he was enjoying his mash and hay, I found some Easyboot Gloves in my stash of boots to fit him. Size ones looked nice on him. Hugged the hoof, v’d in the front, no gaps no overhang. They would work nicely. He picked his hooves up high one at a time but kept eating. That’s a good Appy! A few minutes before our time was up, Beth circled Brass a few times to be sure that he would be OK with the boots on his hinds. After several high steps he decided they were just fine. I do “leg rope” train my horses to get them accustomed to the feel of things around their legs for safety reasons.

The second loop was the same as the first. The gorgeous view of the Snake River is always entertaining. Beth, my endurance junkie in training, was still singing, Brass was still happy. Linda’s mare was a bit fussy and thinking she had enough fun for one day but we just kept moving.

The Big Brass happily trotting along with Epics in front and Gloves on the rear hooves.  

Starting a ride at 8:30 AM in November means short daylight hours. As the sun went down we knew we’d get a couple miles in the dark. But the moonlight was awesome and our spirits never waned. We were all having way too much fun on good horses and fun trails. Our little bit of moonlight somehow made it a special experience. The horses vetted through wonderfully and got their completions just fine. The Green Beans all made their first 50 and it was a blast. Here’s a toast to many more.