Monday, May 7, 2012

Washoe Valley pre-ride

Ok, let's get to it!

Apparently this waiting-to-do-a-50-and-getting-ready-to-move thing is stressful. It's kind of like slowly boiling a frog. I was vaguely aware that I was wound way too tight, and I knew I should relax, but I didn't really realize just how tight I was wound.

Washoe is a two-day ride - you can ride the 25 or 50 on Saturday, Sunday, or both days. I planned to go out Friday, hang out in camp and volunteer on Saturday, and ride the Sunday ride. With a two or three day ride, the Sunday ride is usually a little easier, plus the Sunday ride was co-sanctioned with my local NEDA organization - so I could do a not-quite-so-hard 50 AND get NEDA points. Sign me up! I packed 99% of what I'd need, dumped a bunch of food for the goat and cats, loaded the dog and horse, and drove down to Washoe Lake early Friday afternoon.

(Stuff I didn't pack: my good Camelbak. I left it in a friend's horse trailer a month ago, and I haven't caught up with her to get it back, and I'm sure it's full of Death Mold anyway, so I picked up a $20 knockoff at Walmart. I hate knockoff Camelbaks, but Walmart is seductive that way. I didn't pack the GPS, but I remembered a mile from the house and turned around and got it. I didn't pack people-hand-gloves, but I was pretty sure there were two or three somewhere in the truck or trailer.)

Mainly I wanted to get away from the house and boxes and piles of to-do lists, but I was also hoping that a day in camp would do Dixie some good. And it did! She is inclined to stare at the horses coming and going instead of concentrating on eating like she's supposed to. I left her pretty much alone on Friday and Saturday, and she eventually quit staring and started eating. She ate and drank great, and I started electrolyting her on Saturday evening.

I drank four beers (Corona, happy Cinco de Mayo!) and decided it would be a great idea to ride bareback through camp. I did put the bridle on, and of course I wore a helmet, and even though it took me four tries to leap on my tall-ass horse from the top of the ice chest, it was a great idea. The way I see it, Dixie has only three advantages over the Arabs in the sport: she's got a great walk, she's got an amazing brain, and she's always the most beautiful horse in attendance. And how else to show off one's horse's great brain and walk and beauty than by drunkenly meandering through camp? ;)

The weather was absolutely perfect for the horses: high in the low 60s, no precipitation, no humidity, and breezy but not incredibly windy. Sadly, the drawback was that it got COLD at night - down near freezing. I survived better than at Rides of March - I put up the truck tent, put the broken-zipper sleeping bag under my cot, wrapped my cold toes in one of those silver emergency blankets, snuggled up in all my clothes and the good sleeping bag, and turned the buddy heater on a couple of times. (Yes, I have a CO detector.)

It was the weekend of the Supermoon, and they're not kidding. I kept waking up thinking I'd massively overslept and it was 7 am, but no, the moon was just THAT bright.

I woke up Saturday feeling extremely peculiar. My throat hurt and my head was completely emptied of any thoughts at all. They had plenty of volunteers, and I ended up reading my Kindle and napping all day. I took two naps and almost fell asleep again about 4, but I decided that was a terrible idea and started getting ready for Sunday instead.

"Don't do anything new at a ride" is more of a suggestion than a commandment, so I tried Easyboot Gloves at the ride. I know, I've been a longtime fan of Renegades, and I feel oddly guilty for "cheating" on them. But Dixie has such a low daisy-clipping way of going, and as she gets tired, she goes even lower. Gloves have much less bulk at the front of the boot, so there's less plastic skimming the ground ready to catch her hoof on a rock. I didn't want Epics or original Easyboots - gloves or nothing, thanks. I tried on C and S's boots two weeks ago and decided that 0.5's might work, then I measured her after a fresh trim and decided that yes, 0.5's were the right choice. I ordered two, because I was planning on doing Renegades on the backs.

So Friday I put on the Gloves on front and rode Dixie on the beach. We walked in the deep sand while Cers played in the waves, then I coaxed Dixie into riding on the wet sand and letting the waves lick her feet. We went a couple miles up the beach, then turned back for camp and flew down the flat hard sand roads. The Gloves stayed put, with no sand in the boots or gaiters, but I didn't think they looked right. You're supposed to get a tiny bit of spread in the V at the front of the boot, and with a fresh trim, she had no spread. I bought Powerstraps too, but I wasn't sure how to install them / if I should install them.

Saturday afternoon, I went and found Lucy, who's one of the helpful Team Easyboot people. She brought a couple sizes of boots over to my camp and we tried them on - yes, 0.5's were the right size, and yes, they weren't fitting quite right. Dixie has close to perfect rear feet, a little flaring on the outside walls but not bad. Her front feet have persistently contracted heels, even when I keep them totally thrush-free and trimmed weekly. They're just never going to round out like they should, because of the shoes and pads when she was so young.

So Lucy gave me some athletic tape, loaned me a pair of 0.5's with powerstraps already installed, and showed me how to tape hooves. Let me tell you, it's just as much trouble as I thought it would be - and it WORKS. It's not something I'd want to do for every training ride, but it's definitely worth it for competitions. Dixie was EXTREMELY UNAMUSED by all this attention to her feet, and by the time I was taping the fourth hoof I was clinging to it for dear life, yelling "NOOOOO hold still" while she flapped it around like I was a troublesome sagebrush attached to her back leg. But I didn't let her put it down (and get sand on the tape, ruining the tape job), and she eventually gave up and let me finish. The new 0.5's fit picture-perfect on her back hooves, and the powerstrapped 0.5's went very snugly on her front feet.

I bought a cantle bag from Henry and shoved two Renegades in it as insurance. So if you're keeping count at home: four new boots, one new piece of gear on the saddle, a new knockoff Camelbak, and new half chaps. Like I said, it's a suggestion.

I have this irrational aversion to really long posts, so I'll quit here and start working on the Ride Post right now.


  1. You really like to tempt fate don't you =)

  2. Thanks for the giggle. Sounds like a really fun weekend. You're making me want to try endurance more and more!

  3. Ahem. SOME people have been waiting patiently for a photo of the new halfchaps.

    Not me, obviously. "Waiting patiently" isn't something I do. You knew that.

  4. And I was counting....

    I have used the gloves with gaiters but don't know what the power strap is. Will check it out.

  5. Cool --> found the post that you decided to try the gloves. I think there's nothing wrong with trying something you think might work. I don't think you are cheating :). I've always thought that the whole atheletic tape thing would be a huge pain and if I'm going to go to that length, I'll just glue on boots --> but I have the luxury of having a boot/horse combination that works really really well, and I would NOT want to glue for every I totally understand people who make the decision to do the taping etc. so that they can keep their horses barefoot and do the best they can by their horses feet. I would be really interested in your observations of how the gloves wear/last etc. compared to your experience with renegades. I always thought that the renegades lasted a bit longer, but I don't ahve a side by side comparison on the same horse, so it's totally a guess. Keep us posted!!!!!!!!


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