I've tried to run/jog before, many times. No matter how carefully and slowly I start, no matter how modest my goals, no matter what surface I slap my poor tired dogs down upon, I always get shin splints. I think the last time I tried was in 2009, with brand-new fitted-at-a-running-store-running-shoes, and I made it to Week 4 of Couch to 5k and all of a sudden I could hardly climb out of bed, so I decided then and there that I was through with running, forever.
But man, it's so nice to hop off and briskly lead my horse down steep hills, and it's even easier to jog down those steep hills and let her running walk after me, and I've actually been running down hills for about two weeks now and nothing is sore. My calves and my core muscles feel like I did something, but not in a debilitating way. So maybe that means it's time for my bidecennial jogging experiment! And it's 2012, so that means I should try the "barefoot" running thing!
But I woke up to an inch of totally unexpected snow, so I wasn't quite ready to go with crazy no-socks-allowed toe shoes. I headed to my STP Outlet Store to see what I could find with a minimal sole and room for socks. I ended up with some shockingly ugly Vivo Barefoots for only $70. We'll see how they do!
(PS I know I need to run differently and not heel-strike)
* * *
So Aarene's got a(nother) article in Endurance News. I should really encourage yall to join AERC and receive Endurance News for free as part of your membership, but since it's too late for you to get the January issue I'll just say the article is based on this post.
I'd like to direct your attention to #2: Loyalty to a person or an ideal (barefoot? bitless? treeless?) is important, but there's no need to be stupidly loyal. I'm pretty devoted to ~science~ and evidence-based endurance riding and "n=1 is useful if you are the 1", but even I have trouble letting go of my core beliefs sometimes. When I first got a horse (RIP Champ) I decided that Natural Horsekeeping was the only possible ethically correct course of action. One should leave all hair in place, because Evolution/God put it there for a reason, and Natural Wild Horses wouldn't be blanketed or locked in stalls or fed grain (especially ground heat-treated pelleted feed!) or shod or anything else!
I pretty quickly decided that riding horses with bits and saddles, while unnatural, was just the price they had to pay to receive an endless buffet of species-appropriate grass hay and regular barefoot hoof care from me. I also decided that a little pelleted hard feed was ok, as a ration balancer, and whacking off a couple inches of mane to make it easier to put my
Things went on a predictable slippery downhill slide from there. I "met" people in really wet climates who quite rationally rain-sheet their horses. I met people who have made reasonable accommodations to attempt to transition their horses to barefoot yet ended up going with good steel shoes. I met people who, given the choice between leaving their horses in a small paddock and riding 5x a week or pasture boarding and only riding once a week, chose to stall the horse and actually enjoy ownership. It's not black and white, and anybody who's owned a horse for very long must realize that, even if you're just realizing it subconsciously.
But for some reason, last fall I took my stand against Cruelly Stripping Dixie's Natural Protections from her and I didn't clip her. I think I even said "nah I'll pass" when ~C asked if I wanted her to clip Dixie's neck. (In my defense, she was only a couple months into her layoff/rehab at that point.) In December, Dixie came off official layup and I started to bring her back. Even though she's a wooly mammoth, even though we had an exceptionally mild winter, she tried for me.
Eventually, for whatever reason I decided that she was hot, ordered clippers, and clipped her. Her relief was so obvious and so immediate that it just totally threw me for a tizzy. I am in the middle of a huge existential crisis (again) about ideals versus reality, principles versus results, belief versus evidence, etc.
Anyway, this could probably pass unnoticed by most of you ("hey I thought Funder didn't ~do~ clips") except that I'm pointing it out, over and over again. Don't come pat me on the shoulder, please - think about what you're doing because it's Something you Believe, and think about what the evidence is really telling you. Should you keep doing that? Should you try something else? I'm not gonna lie, it's hard, and it's like three times as hard if you're wrong... but better to keep evaluating things than to do it "like we've always done it."