In case you’re curious, I was one of those riders.
And the story isn’t actually as dramatic as the title might suggest. Except for in a few parts.
And no pictures, because my normally-sane, take-pictures-off-my-back-with-no-reins pony was acting like she was closely related to a fire-breathing dragon, and taking my hands off the reins and fumbling with a camera just might have resulted me becoming that aforementioned splat on the pavement. I need to get one of the helmet cams that are becoming so popular.
As I’ve said before, I board in a semi-urban area. It’s a very horsey “neighborhood” in Queen Creek, no official subdivision designation, more like a loose coalition of streets containing horse people who have all migrated to an area free of CC&Rs and HOAs. The whole area is bordered on two sides by state trust land desert…which is currently “locked gate access only,” and you have to get an access permit to get a key.
After yesterday, I think I’m just going to pony up the $$$ for the access permit so I can ride out on that state land again, versus running the Gauntlet of Pony Death that is riding on the streets around the neighborhood. It used to be open access several years ago, and that was my training ground for when I started to move into endurance from NATRC and needed some good areas for adding speed work to our workouts.
This being semi-urban and a neighborhood of sorts, “streets” = pavement.
I really hate riding on pavement. Probably something having to do with getting tossed onto and going skidding across it years ago. It was probably a minor miracle that the worst casualty of that incident was my favorite t-shirt, and that I came off none the worse than some road rash and mental trauma.
So that sets the stage for why I hate riding on pavement, even under the best of circumstances, so the thought of doing anything that could make the situation worse — such as riding in pavement on shoes (yes, Mimi was shod in the above incident) — really makes me cringe. Slithering and slipping on pavement does not a fun ride make.
Yesterday, I’d had it with arena circles. Plans were initially in place to trailer out, but enough outside circumstances conspired that it just proved more convenient for Boarding Barn Owner and I to stick around the barn and explore around the neighborhood. The original plan was to see if we could find access to an unlocked trust land gate, but we nixed that plan partway through after realizing the National Guard was using the runway they have in that section of trust land for practicing helicopter water-retrieval exercises.
(Fire season is approaching, so they’re sharpening their “dip the bucket in the water and dump it in the right area” skills.)
For some reason, sharing space with large helicopters with weird, tire-looking things dangling from their undersides didn’t seem like the best idea. How does one even go about desensitizing a horse to something like that? Park a helicopter in the roundpen?
So we ended up just doing a large, exploratory loop around the neighborhood, about 4 miles in all.
I put Mimi boots on when we ride out, no so much for protection, because she can handle the street terrain just fine. It’s for the grip and traction and peace of mind I get from knowing that she’s not going to unexpectedly do the splits on the pavement if she spooks at something. Yes, she probably gets decent traction going barefoot. But since her favorite spooking methods involve very fast movement, usually around and to the side, I’d rather just know she’s going to have the grip needed to stay upright during evasive maneuvers.
It also gives me a really good chance to see how she’s wearing her feet…for some reason, I can read the wear pattern on the boots easier than I can read her feet themselves. And after yesterday, the boots were telling me she’s wearing faster on the outsides. Time to reevaluate the trimming.
Barn Owner is also currently testing out an old pair of Mimi’s boots on her mare. She’s been curious about the Renegades, and really likes how easy they are to put on and take off. She’s currently got front shoes on her mare, but is bare on the back, and had been looking for a booting option for rockier terrain.
So I’m letting her test out an old pair of Mimi’s. They definitely got put to the test yesterday, since this mare is young, still pretty green, and somewhat of a “looky” and reactive Arab. There were several moments that involved some fast maneuvers, spooks, and whirls on the pavement, and when I didn’t have my hands completely full of fire-breathing Pony doing her own spooks, I was able to observe how much traction her boots were providing. This is a very smart mare, and she quickly figured out how much grip and security she had from the boots, so when she’d spook, her hind end would be securely anchored in place while her front end danced lightly around.
We finished our ride none the worse for the wear, all body parts counted for and no splats on the pavement. The boots came back with a darker patina of asphalt tar staining on the bottoms, but all fully attached, even through some interesting spooks and antics.
I’ve been a believer in these boots for a long time…and now I’ve got another convert.