Submitted by Natalie Herman, Team Easyboot 2014 Member

I live in a beautiful place: ocean beaches, mountains, and towering Redwood forests all around. And we get to ride in most of these places. One of the local horsey-hangouts is the Arcata Community Forest (ACF). With almost 15 miles of well-built, gravel-based trails so we can use it even in the many months of rain and mud we get here. There are very hilly trails on around 600 acres of land, and it’s a great place to keep your horse in shape year-round.

Although there are a number of riders that avoid the ACF because of its many users, some of us love it for that very reason. If you ride here regularly, your horse will be used to just about every urban (and not so urban) thing out there. This multi-use forest for recreation and selective logging, will desensitize your horse to vehicles from park police atvs and pickups, dump trucks full of gravel, logging trucks, and even the occasional CDF fire truck coming in for an emergency. It’s great fun when you are cantering up a hill, and come face to face with something like this around the corner!

You also run into bikes, runners, hikers with packs, parents with strollers, loose dogs, the local university students running track or doing some sort of forestry research by hiding up in the ferns and trees with beeping machines and bright colored helmets. Even after years of riding here, a bunch of ‘orange aliens’ invading the forest is spooky enough to get the horse’s attention.

Last week my regular conditioning buddy and barefoot client, Joanna (a fellow endurance rider currently going to school here at Humboldt State) and I, went up to the ACF for some hill sprints. While we were tacking up, several more rigs arrived and I recognized some more clients of mine. When we were all tacked up, I noticed we had a nice variety of horses, riding styles, and EasyCare boots in the mix.

Fellow endurance rider Pamela with her just started young Arab, Zephyr. He’s learning a lot in the ACF.  He’s sporting Easyboot Gloves all the way around.

A trail rider and barrel racer, Cindy has several Paints. Her gelding sports old style Easyboot Epics on his fronts and is often bare behind, though uses Easyboot Glove Back Country when they do need protection.

Then we have my own mare, Ewoyn. For the worst trails I will choose Epics with dome pads, but on most of our training trails I can use Gloves. I also like to use the Glove Back Country on her hinds for intense training.

And here are all four horses ready to head on up the hills.