I had a super-fun day today, got to go up to Cascade and ride with my gal pal, Linda, who is one of the managers of The Pink Flamingo Classic Endurance Ride. Not only is this one of my most favorite rides because my two best buds manage it, but because the trails are absolutely amazing and 100% BAREFOOT friendly!! It is a mountain ride, and we always have to giggle when people ask if there is a lot of climb. Um, yes, there is! And it’s wonderful! I was lucky enough to do two days there last year, where I tested the newest design of Easyboot Gloves on the fronts and glued on the backs, although we really didn’t need hoof boots at all! However, riding 100 miles of trail in two days I wanted to make sure we were covered!
Anyhow, Linda and I used the excuse of "checking trail" to have a wonderful day, and did about 23 or so warm, muggy miles. It was fantastic!!
About halfway through our ride, we dropped down to a creek and saw a local rancher bringing up a cattle shute for the 200+ cows he would be bringing in for grazing over the course of the week. Linda, being Miss Congeniality and part of the everyone-knows-everyone small town community, stopped to chat with this outwardly friendly cowboy. I shoulda trusted my first impression- never trust a cowboy who drives a brand-new Chevy. No offense, just sayin’.
The Cowboy stepped out of his Chevy with an amused look on his face, scanning our Zilco tack and pretty helmets. After formalities, he told me my bit was "interesting," and looked like it would pinch. I didn’t quite know what to say considering I ride my mare in an s-hack. He went on to say that he would put a spade bit in her, asking me if I knew what a spade bit was. Myself knowing full-well what a spade bit is, told him that considering I could ride this mare with dental floss, I thought a spade probably wasn’t quite necessary.
The Cowboy asked several questions, one of which made my laugh out loud. While examining the boots, he leaned back against his Chevy, and said; "Now, I want to know how long these boots last." I told him I have gotten several hundred miles out of my boots, and have ridden in some pretty tough terrain. He gave me a smirk and commented that while "you" ride on manicured trails, his horses are working cow horses and he didn’t think the boots would last doing what "they" do. I had the idea to invite him along on one of "our" endurance rides, you know, something easy- like The Tevis.
When asked if I could take one off, I thought, hey, why not! I am all about education and so many people have no idea about how cool these boots are! Of course immediately after pulling my boots, I realized this was a trap when he focused on my mare’s foot. "These feet are far to short," The Cowboy says. "What happens when you lose a boot?? She surely couldn’t make it even a mile with these feet!" He then looked at her bare back feet and exclaimed- "Those feet are MUCH too short!! What happens when you bruise her and can’t ride your race?" Of course The Cowboy wasn’t interested at all to hear that my mare does quite well barefoot, most of the time going barefoot up front, and that I only use hoof boots on her hind feet at actual endurance rides. I said, "Silly Cowboy <okay, I did not say that part but I thought it in my head>, I have ridden this mare hundreds of miles barefoot, her back feet are like wild mustang feet!" He gave me a chew-stained smirk and said those were nothing like mustang feet and I was going to regret my decision later. I don’t think he heard me grumbling about the hundreds of mustang feet I saw last fall when my husband aged and vaccinated several hundred mustangs with the BLM.
The Cowboy goes on to talk about a mare (Quarter Horse) he has who he plans to put in 00’s because she keeps pulling her 0 shoes. I was clearly irritated at this point and if I could have sauntered off on my horse, I would have. Instead I just walked. We said our good-byes and I grumbled for the next few miles. About six miles from the trucks, I pulled Replika’s front boots and did the remainder of the ride gloating about my mare feeling no different bare than she had minutes previously in her boots. Her feet looked great when we got in, and she walked over the rock at the creek without a second thought. So there.
Rep’s front foot after several barefoot miles. I love watching her heels that continue to spread, they are really coming along!
Back foot (sorry about the shading at the toe). I don’t know if you can tell, but the concavity of her back feet is so cool. And for being "much too short," she actually needs a bit of a trim.
While the barefoot and natural horse care movement has really taken off, I think there will always be that old-school mentality, which will exist in a closed mind and a sheltered world. While The Cowboy actually keeps his horses barefoot most of the year, many people don’t, and have no desire to. And that’s fine, for them. All we can do is try to educate, and stop when you hit a wall- there is just no use in arguing!!
For any of you Northwest endurance and trail riders alike, I highly recommend making the trek to The Pink Flamingo Classic, August 7th and 8th, in Cascade, Idaho. Every detail is lovingly considered, the trails are amazing, you couldn’t find better trail marking, they are barefoot-friendly and Sally and Linda give out phenomenal awards. The breast cancer benefit raffle is awesome and there are so many generously donated items. There is just so much FUN packed into this ride, from the best dressed flamingo and best decorated camp awards, to the pink flamingo trivia along the trail. It’s just a good old time, and there are rarely any crabby cowboys present.