Spring has sprung. Promise. Even though the weather sucks, the ponies are still hairy and there is mud everywhere, the days are getting longer, the hair is starting to let go and there are signs of the glorious weather to come, everywhere! You just have to see through the mud. But they are there, I promise!! While the riding isn’t quite full-swing yet, the competition season everywhere is starting up. There have already been several endurance and competitive trail rides, and horse shows are starting to rock. Hope you’ve been able to get out and ride!
A beautiful spring day in the Owyhee Desert.
Although we’ve been riding all winter, there is a process that comes with getting back out there and shaking out the kinks. Most of us end the season on a high; our techniques perfected, our equine partners in tune, our crew beat into submission and our boots at the top of their game. And then you get it- the reminder that you’re not *that cool* and you’ve still got to follow the same rules as everyone else. Regarding hoof boots, they must fit!
Replika sporting her 0.5 Gloves in front and 00.5 Gloves behind. The front boots had 50 miles on them from Khopy’s second 50. The hind boots were virtually brand new. I am going to keep better track of mileage on the boots this year than I have in the past.
I posted a while back about starting now with your goals for then. This year I wanted to break away from the gluing process for single day 50’s and use my beloved Gloves on my mare. I rode my gelding in Gloves on two 50’s last year with no problems, but this mare is, um, special. I decided that I would be doing all of my longer training rides in Gloves to toughen the skin of Her Highness. Funny how my geldings were never coddled or pampered with Glue-Ons. Something about this red-headed mare just makes me melt. We’ve been lucky enough to get a few great conditioning rides in and I am very happy to report things are going very well with the Gloves!
Getting ready to head out on the trail!
Our first major spring ride was quite the adventure. Myself and my two BFF’s piled in the rig to head south towards the Owyhee Mountains. However, instead of taking a left at the sagebrush, we took a right. We headed into the Wilson Creek Trail Management area on the Owyhee front and prepared for a super-fun day of riding into the Owyhee mountains. I slapped Replika’s Gloves on all four feet, Sally put Hawk in Gloves up front and Elly rode her trusty stallion, er, gelding completely barefoot.
The canyons are spectacular. Can you see the drop-off? I was trying to make my girlfriends squeal! (It worked!!)
The trails consisted of a little sand, a lot of mud and some substantial rock. Me being me, was on a mission to find the funnest and most exciting trails. As it turned out Replika was on the hunt for a man, and we succeeded in finding two herds of BLM mustangs complete with a black stallion and two, tiny, newborn foals. We made our way up, over, down and around, blissfully basking in the gorgeous day. And then it happened- one of my boots popped off!! Could it BE? We lost a BOOT??? Well, yes, we did. And when I looked down, it hit me. DUH. Replika’s right front foot is a hair smaller than her left front foot. Why did I not use athletic tape? Because it’s spring, and I forgot. No harm, no foul, we popped the boot back on and continued on our way. Because it popped off on a steep uphill at a gallop, we kept back to a dull roar and didn’t have any other problems the rest of the day, but I kept it in the back of my mind for next time. I won’t forget that all year, until next spring, of course.
After our ride, I anxiously peeled the boots off my mare and was horrified to see squishy looking heel bulbs that were warm and tender to the touch. Was this mare truly destined for Glue-On boots the rest of her life? I tried not to let it bother me too much and planned to try again the next week. Our ride was exceptionally wet as we went through a lot of mud until we found a better trail and then had several creek crossings. I didn’t have to wait long to try again and found myself back headed back down to the Owyhees the next week to ride with Steph Teeter and Merri Melde on my favorite loop, Wildhorse Butte.
I met Steph and Merri at the Rye Patch vet check, where I unloaded and my mare promptly looked around as if to say, "Well, where is all the food!" Steph and Merri arrived shortly after with Rhett, Steph’s older but still kick-ass endurance horse, and Batman, the younger and newer super-hero endurance horse. Steph is about a year and a half into the "barefoot thing" and it is really fun to see the changes that have happened in the past year, not only with her horses but with her very self as well. From what I understand Rhett was a bit difficult to transition but once they started the season, Steph was amazed at the differences in her long-time partner such as recoveries and quality of gait. He did his first ever *real* conditioning ride, completely barefoot. He didn’t even flinch over the rocks and we weren’t riding slow. Batman has nice feet that are just getting nicer. He sported his Gloves with no issues.
Steph and Merri zinging through the wash.
Rhett’s feet in the middle of our ride. He was amazing!
Superhero Batman was busy trying to convince Replika she should be equally intimidated and impressed by him.. she was neither. Which really p*ssed Batman off!
This time I used my trust athletic tape on both Replika’s front feet and, as expected, had no boot issues. The other thing that was exciting was the lack of "squishy heel syndrome" that we experienced the week before. I am starting to feel more and more confident that she will do single day 50’s just fine in her Gloves. Yay!!! While I truly believe Glue-Ons are the most superior form of hoof protection available for important events, Gloves are the most practical, easy and reliable (once you get your system down) boot to use.
Rhett’s beautiful feet after his first barefoot conditioning ride. I think Steph was pretty pleased.
We ended our fifteen-mile ride around Wildhorse Butte and admired Rhett’s beautiful bare feet. The funnest thing about the "barefoot revolution" is watching people who once had no interest become as obsessed as the rest of us. We have three and a half more weeks until our first endurance ride of the season. I plan to use the next couple weeks to finish ironing out the kinks and working towards our goals. Replika’s feet are looking awesome and if she can do the miles in Gloves without rubs or issues, any horse can. She truly is The Princess and the Pea.
And to stay consistent with spring, I had to race home to beat the storm. Better weather is coming, it just has to!
For now, get out while you can – enjoy the beautiful, volatile spring – it will be summer soon enough!