Saturday, February 11, 2012

Barefoot shoes on the short hill ride

So I went out Thursday on the short version of the hill (up the hill and back down, 5.6 miles).

First, and most importantly! Normal shoes make your legs longer. I didn't really notice til we got out of the subdivision and started trotting, but my stirrups were suddenly too long. They weren't unbearably too long, but I definitely had to concentrate on streeetching my heels down to keep my feet in the stirrups. I ride pretty light in the stirrups normally, but I definitely learned that I'm crooked - the right stirrup was harder to keep in place. It was good for me but I'm moving those bad boys up where they need to be next time.

(My saddle has western cordura fenders and cordura/leather straps. I love the soft fenders, but the strap part flops all over the place, so years ago I ziptied the bottom of the fenders together. Easy enough to snap the zip ties and move the buckles, but not something I was ready to do on the trail that day.)

The shoes were very comfortable to run in. I've been trying to land toe-first anyway, so it wasn't a huge change in my running style (such as it is). I jogged on down the hill at a good clip. Somebody asked about rocks - my backyard trails are not challenging terrain. You could run them literally bare footed. They're sand with occasional jagged rocks here and there, but no gravel. I dunno how the shoes will perform on crappier footing.

I've been alternating wearing the bare shoes and normal shoes. It really is a big change on your tendons - I can feel it in my lower calves and Achilles tendons. I think I will ride in normal sneakers tomorrow and slip on the bare thingies for wandering around before and after the ride - Silver Springs is flat as a pancake with very few natural mounting blocks, and it's HARD for me to clamber back on Dixie without a tree stump or a rock or something. If I'm not going to get off and jog, I will do fine in sneakers.

Mel - yes, my feet got dirty, but my feet get horribly dirty in everything except muck boots. I hate it but I have learned to live with it. :(

On the horse front: I had been pushing Dixie to trot up the hill without paying much attention to her form, but I decided that's just teaching her bad habits and building up the wrong muscles. Thursday I made her push from behind and trot properly up the hills, instead of getting a little tired and dragging her way up. It was a lot of half-halt, "ok try this again," trot. Somehow, even though it felt really slow, it was our best time on the climb.

Tomorrow: a flat NEDA ride with a clipped, fit horse in cool weather! Hopefully it'll be 20 miles of holding her back! :D


  1. Oooh...would you guest post at Mugwump Chronicles on ill training - form, feel, for rider and horse? Please, please, please??

  2. Oh, Mugs, I'll think about it today and see if I think I have something to say, but it really feels like I am still blindly feeling my way around that subject!

  3. Have fun on your ride, Funder. I hope you and Dixie do great and have a blast. I'm feeling jealous--its raining here--I won't be riding, wimp that I am.

  4. I am going to have to check out the shoes. Might give me some motivation to run? Or not. LOL!

    I tend to let my mare get too strung out when we are trotting or loping. What a difference it makes when I ask for some collection; the feel is incredible. I need to be more diligent about asking.

    Your weather must be better than ours; winter is back but hopefully not for long.

  5. I'm confused, probably because I just now despretly trying to catch up - have you been riding in barefoot shoes? I won't too but nervous about the whole getting my foot stuck thing - even though I have a my strirrup bar down at the top and the leather *should* come off the saddle is ever (heaven forbid) it happened that my foot went through and I fell off.

  6. Mel - I've been riding for so long in flat shoes that riding in barefoot shoes didn't seem different. Do you have wide-tread endurance stirrups? I can't ride in cowboy boots because the tread is so wide that my bootheel catches on the back edge of the stirrup and it annoys me and I"m constantly fiddling with them. I ride heels-down religiously. I started in trail runners, then convinced myself that if I wore sneakers LACED REALLY LOOSE they'd come off if I fell, then I did fall a couple times and came out clean and now I just don't really worry about it.

    If I die yall can put that as my sub-epitaph, below "it seemed like a good idea at the time."

  7. I'm going to try it. I don't ride in the endurance style stirrups - too wide for me. I ride in a fillis style that is wider and deeper than normal. I've ridden in running shoes for a couple of years and have NEVER had an issue - in fact, the only time I DID have an issue where my foot stuck was in the endurance stirrup + ariat terrain combination and it wedged funny and I couldn't kick it loose. Oh - and sometimes a certain pair of half chaps would catch on the sitrrup (the part of the chap that goes under the shoe ) and that would be quite frightening because I couldn't kick it loose without putting my hand on the stirrup.....but in summary - never had an issue with flat soles and my synthetic fillis type sitrrups.....SOOOOOOO.....I think I'm going to try my barefooot shoes in the saddle!!!!!!!!

    If I die, than for the record, I thought it was a HORRIBLE idea, but would rather my feet be happy and healthy than deal with having to be in real shoes........and I was an optimist. :)

  8. hahahaha RIP Mel and Funder, dead on their triumphant return to endurance, but at least their feet were happy.


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