I sure do! This year has been one of shifted priorities and welcome breaks. In past years, I would have been hundreds of miles into my endurance season by now, while this year it has just begun. Luckily my break has been voluntary and now that we're settled in to our new home and routine, I can throw my renewed energy into the sport of endurance, which I truly love.
Last weekend we packed up and headed out to my favorite endurance ride in Idaho. Old Selam is one of the longest standing rides in the Northwest as well as one with the richest history. The ride began in 70's at the old Idaho Penitentiary, following the legend of Bob Meeks, a member of the Butch Cassidy gang, who escaped from the prison in 1901 using Old Selam, an aged cart horse used at the prison. On Christmas Eve old Mr. Meeks unhitched Selam and headed out! Unfortunately for him, he was captured the next day, when both he and Selam were returned to the prison. The second escape occurred a week later when prison guards noticed Selam was missing along with a saddle, bridle and prisoner Sam Bruner. The pair was never caught and was one of the very few successful escapes from the old pen. This ride has changed locations throughout the years as land was developed and closed, but it's been housed at the Idaho City location for many years. Old Selam is challenging in that it is not only a mountain ride, but there are numerous water crossing as the trail winds in and out of the old mine tailings from the gold rush days. Following many creek crossings are steep climbs and descents.
Headed through the "Scary Forest" on my favorite loop.
This year, my goal was to focus on my up and coming gelding, Belesemo Enchanter. I purchased Chant as a late three year old, who knew nothing but living out on large acreage with his buddies. Chant is now 7, and finally maturing mentally and physically as I knew he would, someday. I've had a tough time with this guy as he is somewhat aloof and a very confident individual who is not at all demanding or insecure and needy as some of my others. Unfortunately this has made bonding with Chant somewhat difficult. While he's always been a great ride (can we say awesome canter?), I just haven't been drawn to him. This year, I was bound and determined to change that. As such, Chantly has been my #1 guy this summer and because of it, is super fit! I knew he was ready to rock and we headed up to ride camp excited for the weekend ahead.
Because I was only riding one 50 and Chant hasn't ever had any issues with boots, I made the easy choice of using my Easyboot Gloves for this event. Chant's wide little feet use 0 Wide Gloves up front and fancy-schmancy BLUE 00.5's behind. As he has historically twisted his right front boot, I use Mueller Athletic Tape for training and good old 2" Elastikon for endurance rides. Because I knew we would be in and out of the creek all day, I used an extra wrap for good measure and pounded those suckers on for a problem-free boot day for the next 50 miles. Slap 'em on the morning and off you go. Take 'em off after the ride. Easy-peasy.
And we rode every, single, mile – no short ride here, folks. The first loop was a lovely (and long!) 27 miles before getting back to camp for our only hold of the day. Unfortunately my out-of-practice self did a crummy job of taking care of me, and ended up paying for the oversight in the end. No worries, we won't make that mistake again. After an hour hold we headed out on what may have been the longest, hottest, hardest 20-ish miles of my life. Yeah, it was the true meaning of endurance. While I was lucky to have two awesome riding partners, a few times I considered accidentally pushing the SOS button on my SPOT Tracker and then utilizing the emergency services so their efforts didn't go unappreciated or wasted. Dramatic? Maybe. But I was pretty much there. Like I said, lesson learned and I will not neglect myself in the future! A sick rider makes a crummy partner for an awesome horse.
Little Chant cruised through the ups and the downs, the single track, the cross-country and the creek crossings without missing a beat. My boots stayed put like I've grown to expect and the temperatures soared. Finally, FINALLY, we were finished. Chant vetted out great and I was psyched about his performance on his second ever endurance ride. This poor guy will know nothing but true 50's and looooooong loops as his first ride was a two-loop 55 and his second ride was one of the hardest I've ever done.
Finally. DONE. (Check out those Gloves, y'all).
Photos by Jessica Anderson of JRA Photography.
My Gloves performed flawlessly, which is always a relief when riding with people who's horses are shod. If anything bad is going to happen with boots, it will be in front of people who don't use them! My one riding partner, Max Merlich, did the big XP a few years back and rode lots of miles with one of Easyboot's finest, Dave Rabe. Dave hooked Max's mule up with Gloves after a few lost shoes and the mules did great. I was glad my boots didn't mess up his perception. Ironically, along the trail I saw two lost shoes and the bottom of another brand of boot, ripped off from its glue-on shell. Chant looked great after the ride, with no rubs. Unfortunately, the next day he broke out in scratches, which could have been from the heat and water but most likely was due to the clover take-over in the pastures which has caused scratches for everyone, as well as drool and stocking up in Topper. Leave it to Topper to re-direct the focus to HIM.
I am looking forward to lots more miles on this gelding. His scratches cleared up in a couple days and his post-ride vacation is over as of this weekend. Oh, and the clover is getting sprayed very soon. Although the endurance season is winding down, we'll be ready to rock next year. Bring it on!