Sunday, August 29, 2010

booted adventure

It rained this morning. In August. Not exactly our usual weather. So I started my ride a bit later, but the weather was perfect. Low 70s, nice breeze, the dust dampened just enough. I decided to try boots for this ride, knowing I was going to try for about 10 miles and that the trails are getting harder and harder. Major has seemed fine, but I know on the longer rides he starts looking for the edge of the trail, and I needed to put some miles on the boots.

Bread Rock
This ride ended up having multiple personalities, quite a strange ride. Even as we walked up the road Major felt like he liked the boots, striding right down the (usually avoided) big sharp rocky driveway. As we headed out I knew I wanted to end up by the lake, but took a roundabout way to get there. Major was a bit perplexed at the different turns, but he sure wanted to move out. We mostly trotted with some cantering throw in, he was listening pretty nicely. I thought about taking the lower lake trail, but the higher trail requires Major to think a bit more, and I wanted to work on that. We ended up on the bike trails at Twin Rocks, with surprising few bikes! Major is fine with bikes, and I like to step off the trail and work on standing quietly, though all the cyclists started to stop before I waved them on.

On this trail Major got a bit squirrley, and was doing a little sideways silliness. Trying to get him to stop I realized one of the boots was hanging around his ankle. I jumped off, glad that was all he did with a crazy thing flapping around, and put it back on. At the top of the hill I checked them again, seeing that one was getting crooked, and fixed them both.

Heading home we rode the lower trail. Major certainly likes to get going on that, so there was a lot of pulling. Our discussion continued, as I'm sure it will for awhile. There were little scary waves, though we did wade into the water. I wanted to take the trail all the way around, but found a spot too deep to pass. Went to cut up to the higher trail and were a bit too far down, so did some mighty cross-country bushwhacking to find it. Major didn’t bat an eye, he just wanted to get home.

Coming up a steep hill with rocks we did a bit of scrambling, kept trotting...something sounded different. I looked boots on either foot! I looked back down the trail and there they were, both pointing different directions, both completely intact (velco closed, secured). Hmmm, this is going to take some practicing. I decided to just clip them to the saddle, there were only a couple miles to go.

I took all different trails home, just to mix things up. Major wasn’t the least bit tired. We came up a trail and while we usually turn left, I wanted to turn right. I was looking right, had right leg on, right rein, and was leaning into the corner when Major took the usual left turn, fast. I think I hung in the air like Wile E. Coyote, landing on my feet with the reins in my hand, Major circling around me. No harm, so hopped back on and continued! The rest of the ride was uneventful. Major wasn’t very happy with me going the wrong way through the Enchanted Forest and the wrong way past Bread Rock, but we were heading in the right direction. Walking up the road I usually dismount, loosen the girth, take off his bit, toss the stirrups up and he can eat some grass. My saddle looked too funny with all the stuff attached to it, though that doesn’t even show the water bottle on the other side.

Major got a bath and a beet pulp snack, and headed off for a good roll. I still had to wash off the boots, and will work on fine-tuning their fit. I still really like them, but they might be a little small for him now. I’ll look them over and have the other rider at the barn who successfully uses hers maybe give me a hand.

P.S. I did meet up with three trail riders on the way out, and as we all went to pass we stopped and had a nice discussion about barefoot. They asked about the Renegades (at this point I hadn’t lost one yet!) and two were using Easy Boot gloves themselves. One rider said her horse was 23 and spent his whole life in shoes, but had really contracted feet they were hoping to fix. They were riding with another person who shod, everyone doing what they thought best for their horses. I think it is good to discuss  different techniques (be it barefoot, nutrition, etc) but just to be respectful of what someone has decided is best for them. You never know what they’ve gone through!

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