Double Standard

A Cautionary Warning: There is much generalization and use of the term “people” in the following post.  I’m not trying to say “everyone” does this, but rather, a broad spectrum of generalized behavior that I have noticed over the past several years.  This is not intended to be critical of anybody, but rather, my personal view and opinion on behaviors and attitudes.  Consider it, or take it worth a grain of salt.

Recently, there’s been a flurry of discussion activity on Ridecamp about hoof boots.  Every winter, it seems, the topic of “shoes versus boots” gets dragged out.  Thus far this winter, people are confining themselves to boot…comparisons.

While I could probably write a dissertation based on my opinions of the topic, that wasn’t really what stuck my fancy today.  What I wanted to touch on is the seeming “double standard” that exists for hoof boots.

Everyone seems to be concerned with finding the “perfect boot.”  Their standards for that boot seem to be: easy to fit, doesn’t rub, easy to put on, and never comes off.

All I have to say on that is, “When was the last time a horseshoe never came off?”  Please, someone, share with me that they’ve never, in their entire career of horse ownership, had a horse that has lost a shoe.  Pretty much impossible, right?  So why are people so critical of a hoof boot coming off? 

It seems to be an unfair expectation…as soon as people hear a story of a boot coming off, they write it off as being “no good.”  And yet, shod horses that pull shoes get pass after pass, get the shoe nailed back on, and nothing more is said.

As a hoof boot user, I’ve had my fair share of them come off, some of them in places never to be seen again.  I’ve calculated that I’ve got probably about $200 worth of hoof boots and hoof boot parts scattered across Arizona and southern California.  But did that mean boots were worthless?

No, it just meant that something wasn’t working.  It took some experimentation, time, and willingness to think outside the box and my comfort zone, but I eventually found what works for Mimi.  One of the nice things about the popularity of the barefoot/hoofbooted movement taking off is the availability of different hoof boots on the market.  There’s virtually something for almost anyone and any horse. 

(Note the virtually and almost: I do believe that it’s entirely possible that boots might not work for every single horse out there.  Dad’s first horse, a Foxtrotter mare, had an extremely exaggerated sliding action in her hind feet.  Boots gave her too much grip, and made her movement too abrupt and jarring on her joints and muscles.  It’s possible, given time, and knowing what I know now about hoof trimming, that we could have worked more with and gradually adapted her to using boots.)

And incidently?  Mimi has lost at least one of every footwear I put on her.  Regular shoes, padded shoes, aluminum shoes, regular Easyboots, glued-on Easyboots, Epics, Bares, and Renegades.  No one thing out there is perfect.

I’m sure this is a topic that will never go away as long as there are metal shoes to be nailed on, and hoof boots to be fitted, and horse hooves that need protection.  And that means the double standard will likely live on, too.

A fun night ride!

San Tan Mtn Park
“The big loop” – main road to Fox Wash to the 4 lane highway to west hills down to backside wash up the trotting road across to the big rock wash and double track road home.

Went out for my first night ride at the San Tans last Saturday…what a blast! There were a group of 4 of us that met up and rode for about 3 hours…myself, Stephanie Palmer-DuRoss, her husband Pete, and friend Denise Martin.

Amazingly, all 4 of us were riding mares, and not a single hoof or tooth flew during the entire ride! We went for the big loop that runs out to the backside of the park and along the back wash. The park has made that into an official trail now! The downside is that means more traffic on it when the weather gets nicer…ick…but at least they’re giving us more trails again! Yay! And parts of that trail really could do with some more improvement. Now they need to fix the north hill climb other than just posting a sign that says “dangerous trail ahead.”

But this was my first time riding down at the park at night, and only Mimi’s second night ride. She did so amazingly well! I’m so proud of her…she had a blast. Stephanie and I took turns switching off leading, and when I wasn’t leading, I relegated the pony to the back of the pack, and she actually did so well back there. I think the fact that we did so much trotting really helped make her happy.

The one downside was my Easyboot Bares were giving me fits…her front ones are a little big, and one of them got so filled with sand that the gaiter ripped off and I lost one of the boots. Well, I retrieved it, but that still left her bootless in the front, so I yanked off her back boots. They’re old enough now that they are flexible enough to cram on her front feet, so that’s what I did for her fronts, and we went barefot in the back for the last half of the ride. Fortunately, the second half of the loop involves a lot of sand wash.

It was so awesome coming back through the sand wash with the big horse-eating rocks. She tiptoed by the rocks, then we lead the way back through the sand wash. She was going at her big pony trot, not spooking at anything, on a loose rein. I just did my best “well-balanced bump on a log” impression and she went flying down the wash. Didn’t even use any glowsticks or anything…I had them on my breastcollar, but never used them…those suckers are expensive, and I didn’t want to waste the money when we were out in full darkness for less than an hour. But I felt like I didn’t even need them, which is awesome.

It’s amazing what being on a well-trained horse you’re accustomed to can do for a confidence booster. I’ve got a really good feeling about the night portion of Tevis now…Mimi was less trippy and spooky in the dark than in daylight!

We pissed off a big-ass rattlesnake around dusk. We were all trotting down the wash, came around a curve, and sprayed a snake that was huddled int he corner with a bunch of sand…he was so mad! I was at the back of hte pack, and by the time I reached him, he was hissing and rattling! I don’t know how big he was…I just got a glimpse of him, but he looked big. And mad. Mimi cantered by him. :)

Seriously, though, it was a lot of fun, and I think I’ll be riding at night more often now.

Weekend Wrapup

San Tan Mtn Park

East fenceline – San Tan Trail – over Saddle Mtn – trotting road – San Tan Trail – Goldmine Trail – rocky hill road
8 miles, 3.4mph average moving

Hooray for Epics working for Beamer! About time we didn’t loose any boots. And we did a lot of trotting today, and rode the rockier trail in the park, the one we like to call the “Easyboot Eating” trail because invariably, someone would usually loose a boot. Not today! We did have to compromise and just tape plain Easyboots on his hind feet, cause the gaiters were rubbing at the area where he scraped himself at First of Spring. But they stayed on! And no rubbing on the front Epics.

Here’s Beamer being a sweetie to Dad. He is such a touchy-feely horse. Whenever he gets scared, all you have to do is touch him on the neck and he calms down. It’s been a rocky start, but I think we’re finally getting somewhere. He’s done 2 NATRC rides this far, with a 3rd one planned for a month from now. We’re planning his first 50 mile endurance ride for this summer, either hte Devil Dog 50 in Williams in July, or one of the days of the Bryce Canyon XP in September.

It was a really nice weekend to be out, overall. It’s starting to get warm – mid 90’s yesterday and today. But it’s still cooling down at night and is really nice early in the morning. The heat conditioning is important for the horses, and us, as well. A lot of the desert plants are blooming right now – hedgehog cactus, the last of the ocotillo, greasewood. Those are pretty, but par for the course. What I love about right now is the saguaros and ironwoods are starting to bloom!

Mimi was really, really good today, too. She was such a pill yesterday, that today was a nice chance. She was kind of goofy early on when I hopped off to lead down the hill that goes over the saddle. It’s a nice single track that goes down, does a switchback, then goes down some more. Well, she decides that instead of walking down the trail, she’s going to climb on the pile of granite next to the trail. :) That really didn’t work so well, and she almost face-planted, something I haven’t seen her do in a while. Hopefully she learned her lesson about staying on the trail.

I finally remembered to get a picture of my new mascot:
This little fellow has been living with me since the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. He was my companion at Arizona Girls State, one week of sheer political hell and way too much estrogen in enlosed spaces. You know you’ve gone crazy when you start talking to a stuffed animal.
So on a whim, I stuffed him into my bag to go to First of Spring. I had been closet cleaning and found him. Well, he’s been living in my pommel bag ever since. He doesn’t have a name yet, but as is readily apparent, he’s a long way off from the African safari!
I like to think this is also a way of honoring Merri Melde’s Raven, who is MIA somewhere in Brisbane, Australia right now. While I’ve never had to opportunity to meet the Raven (or Merri for that matter…maybe when she gets back from all her traveling!), I follow their blog adventures. Merri, may you someday get your traveling companion back!
Ride countdown: 4 weeks until Descanso, aka the NATRC Region 2 Cuyamaca Benefit Ride. This is my idea of how to spend a holiday weekend!

Saturday ride + Dust storm

San Tan Mtn Park
Scary Rock wash – up Cliff wash – back down Cliff wash – trotting road – San Tan trail
8 miles, 3.2 mph average moving

Oh, what fun…a PMSy horse and PMSy rider…my poor father. He had to listen to us bitch back and forth at each other all day. Well, actually it was rather one sided, since pony doesn’t really say anything…

Did a lot of wash work today, mostly trotting in them. Would have been a mostly good ride except for Beamer lost an Easyboot down in the big sand wash near the cliffs, and we didn’t discover it until about a mile later…whoops.

So we walked. And walked. Got my exercise in! This would be in a rather deep sand wash, of course. Found the boot. Have to say, it was getting a little warm by this time. That’s 2 rides in a row now, same boot each time. Tomorrow, Epics. Beamer’s heels will just have to get over it.

By the time we got back to the barn, there was quite a thunderhead forming out to the southeast, and by the time we unhitched the trailer, cleaned and waterers out, and played with Kelly, there was a huge dust storm heading our way. Scrambled and brought Mimi and Beamer in from the pasture, quite literally just in time. Mimi and I were jogging into the barn at the same time the first wave of dust hit…

It’s still blowing outside. There’s been a few spittles of rain, but not enough to even get the ground wet. Hopefully those clouds do more than just blow some dust around…we need the rain to cool things off!

EDIT: Forgot to add…found the saddle pad that works! Plain Woolback, nothing on top of it or anything. I think the problem with the others was they were too thick, and this saddle doesn’t need a thick pad…it’s very well cushioned and has a nice wool felt flocking in the panels.