Renegade Pro-Comp Glue-Ons at VC100

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Striding out; I guess she likes her boots. Photo by Gore-Baylor Photography.

After 11 years of competing in Renegade Hoof Boots, I did something a little bit different: used the Renegade Pro-Comp Glue-Ons when I did Virginia City 100.

Up to this point, I’ve never felt a need to bother with gluing on. All of the strap boots I’ve used (both Classic and Viper models) have worked well, and any problems have been minor, easily resolvable, and/or a side effect of being a part of the R&D process.

But 100 miles over lots of rocks is a different kettle of fish. To help mitigate the effects of the concussion from that much hard-pack surface, as well as the rocks, I really wanted to use the pour-in gel pads Renegade offers. For most horses and most circumstances, they’re not necessary…but these were not usual circumstances. The downside to the gel pads is they do take up some space inside the boot where the hoof would normally seat. On some horses, it doesn’t seem to make a difference, but on others, it can change the fit enough so that boot retention becomes more of a challenge. Using the glue-ons in conjunction with the gel pads would (hopefully) mitigate that and be one less thing for me to obsess over during the ride. (All that said, strap Renegades have been used at Virginia City 100 before and successfully completed the ride.)

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“care package” from work: all the hoofwear a girl can dream of (glue-ons, extra glue-ons, and strap Vipers to carry as spares)

 

The Gluing Process

I follow the basic protocols as outlined on the Renegade page: http://www.renegadehoofboots.com/glueon.html, with a couple of modifications along the way to accommodate using the gel pads.

Gluing is pretty much a three-handed job, so I didn’t end up with any pictures of the process other than the finished product, but the videos in the above link give a really good visual demonstration.

Hoof prep is critical. I can just about guarantee that the vast majority of glue-on losses are from either insufficient/incorrect prep, or the wrong size.

Supplies– Renegade Pro-Comp Glue-Ons
– Vettec Adhere glue
– Vettec Dispenser gun (I really like the Deluxe one)
– Vettec mixing tips (I allow at least 2/hoof, plus extras for ‘oops’ moments)
– 36-grit sandpaper (I use 3M “Green Corp” file sheets, which have a mineral blend in them that makes for a sharp-edged grit that will actually score into the hoof, versus a rounded grain that will polish it)
– sanding block
denatured alcohol (rubbing alcohol is not the same)
– small spray bottle
– paper towels
– latex gloves (unless you want to be peeling glue off your fingers for the next week)
– flathead screwdriver
– rasp
– hoof stand (optional, especially if you have a clean, flat surface)
– hoof nippers (or straight edge blade; these are to cut the tip off the Adhere

– Extra Helper (it is possible to glue by one’s self, especially with a very well-behaved horse, but it is so much easier to have a helper there to hold the horse, or pick up a leg, or hand you something)

  • Start with a well-trimmed, well-balanced hoof. Make sure all hoof wall edges are rolled, and that any flare is removed.
  • Begin prepping the hoof wall. Using the smooth side of the rasp, clean off the face of the hoof wall, including back to the heels. (Stay clear of the coronary band and at least 1/2″ below it.)
  • Sand the hoof wall. This is a critical step. The rough sandpaper creates micro-grooves in the hoof, which in effect gives a larger surface area to which the glue can bond. When in doubt, sand more.
  • “Dry fit” the boots to each hoof. Make sure they are a good fit, or if they need modifying. The sidewalls/glue flange of the boot can be trimmed to improve the fit.
    • The most common modification is cutting “v notches” at the toe quarters to adjust the toe angle.
  • Gel Pad Modification: Because the gel pads allow more “movement” of the hoof as it sinks into the gel pad upon landing, this is a really important modification in order to help maintain the glue bond and give the boot multiple points of attachment. If the boot shape needs modifying, use the v-notch method. If the boot is a good fit, then just make two vertical splits, one at each toe quarter. This will allow the boot to better follow the hoof movement without cracking the glue bond at the quarters. (If it does crack, the boot is held on securely at the toe, and because of the splits in the boot, it will not keep cracking the bond all the way up to the toe.)
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the split can be seen, especially on the left boot, at the inside toe quarter

  • Once the boots are dry fit, scuff the glue flange with sandpaper. They come from the factory already pre-scuffed, but another few swipes with rough sandpaper is that much more grip.
  • Apply latex gloves and spray the boots with denatured alcohol and wipe them out with paper towels. Try not to handle the glue flange after it has been wiped down, and do not touch any of the inside of the boot with bare hands, or it will leave oils and residues. Set boots aside.
  • Spray the hoof with denatured alcohol and thoroughly wipe clean with paper towels. I like to put a spare glue-on on the hoof at this time to keep it clean; otherwise, you’ll want to make sure they stand very still on a clean surface like a piece of cardboard or linoleum square.
  • Assemble glue in dispenser, nip off the sealed tip, equalize the cartridge, and attach the mixing tip.
  • Gel Pad Modification: Apply the glue to the toe glue flange. Set glue gun aside, slide the spare glue-on (if using) off the hoof, and apply the prepped boot to the hoof, making sure it is well-seated at the toe and the tread pattern is aligned with the central sulcus. Carefully either set the hoof down or bring it forward and up onto the hoof stand. (If they fidget or are prone to try to twist the hoof, use the stand method.)
  • Gel Pad Modification, step 2: If the hoof was up on the stand, set it on the ground. Now use the flathead screwdriver to pry the sidewall flange away from the hoof at the quarters; insert the mixing tip and squeeze glue into the space between boot wall and hoof wall on both quarters. (If it took a couple minutes to get the toe gluing done, you may need to change the glue tip — if the glue does not easily flow, it has started setting up in the tip and a new one should be used.)
    • This two-step method also really minimizes the amount of glue that can get under the hoof wall, since the most common spot for that to occur is at the quarters, when the hoof is shoved into the boot, and can scrape the glue off the wall. Having the hoof flat on the ground means there’s nowhere for the glue to go but the space between hoof wall and boot wall.
  • Give the boot several minutes to set up and move on to the next hoof. Repeat the same steps from cleaning with denatured alcohol onward.
  • Allow a couple hours of quiet time for the glue to really cure, but Adhere is fast-setting and I’ve seen boots glued on the night before a ride without any problems.
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The finished job

Removal

Removing the boots can be fairly strait forward, or more time-consuming. They are intended as a single-use product, as it is difficult, or at least time-consuming, to remove all of the old glue from the boots, and a re-glue rarely bonds as well as a brand-new boot.

The quick-n-dirty way is to take a straight edge blade (like a box cutter) and cut along the spot where the boot wall meets the boot sole. The bottom can then be popped off, and the side walls peeled away from the hoof wall with hoof nipper or pliers.

If you really want to save the boots (either for re-use or, like I did, R&D purposes), then it’s the old “screwdriver and mallet” process: Insert flathead screwdriver at a point between hoof wall and boot wall (I find it easiest to start at the quarters), tap with mallet until it cracks the glue, work your way around the hoof.

An alternate to this, thanks to a suggestion from Lucy, is to use a tool used for changing out motorcycle tires — a “tire spoon.” It has a rounded head on it that has a slight curve — position it properly and it actually curves away from the hoof wall, preventing gouging into the wall.

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Why I wanted to “save” the boots — to see wear patterns in the gel pads, as well as glue in the boots. Nothing under the hooves, and I had an equal mix of glue that stuck to the hoof and what stuck to the boot.

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Tread wear. Not bad for 76 miles of very rough trail.

Personal Thoughts/Wrap-Up/Misc Notes

They stayed put for 76 very rocky miles, and as tough as they were to get off, I doubt the last 24 (easier) miles would have done anything to budge them.

For a trail that eats hoofwear (I saw all manner of boots, multiple brands, laying along the trail), I am extremely pleased with how my gluing process did. I don’t particularly like gluing — it’s kind of a pain, especially when you have strap boots that are easy to apply and stay on — but glue-ons do have their place, and it’s a good tool to keep in my arsenal of tricks.

Beeba had one hoof that was a little funky in how it sized — the 0 was way too tight, but the 1 was a little looser than I would have liked. But the same principle applies to fitting Glue-Ons as the strap boots — loose is better than tight; a bit of excess space can always be filled with Adhere, but too tight of a boot will end up popping off the hoof. It was the right front, and in the photos above, you can see how much extra glue I ended up using, and I was never pleased with how it looked…but it stayed on.

I experienced a slight panic attack crimp in my plans when a major storm came through where we were camping the Wednesday before the ride, flooding the horses stalls and making soggy hooves unavoidable. Crap. This was problematic on multiple levels:

  • Wet hooves are soft hooves. Soft hooves over over 100 miles of rock would be more sensitive and susceptible to bruising, even with the protection of boots.
  • Hoof moisture levels can change hoof sizes. Wet = larger, dry = smaller. Potentially not good for the glue bond.
  • While a “normal” level of moisture in the hoof is actually beneficial for glue adhesion, “soggy” is not. But I’m also not a fan of heat guns//torches to force-dry the hoof. Not only is that level of extreme dryness unnecessary, it’s really taking a risk with some very delicate, temperature-sensitive hoof structures. People do it all the time, but I prefer to leave creme brulee as a dessert technique. Denatured alcohol does a really good job of drying out excess moisture from the hoof, as well as removing any oils and residues on the surface.

So I dumped a bag of shavings in the stall to sop up any excess water, sent a couple of texts to the bosses to go over gluing protocols, got reassured that some extra denatured alcohol would take care of the problem, and tried to put aside my worries for the rest of the evening.

The next day dawned sunny and breezy, which dried things out in no time, so some of my concerns started fading. I did a couple sprays of denatured alcohol on Beeba’s hooves before we loaded up to head over to ridecamp, and between that, the trailer ride over, and then hanging out on the very dry parking lot at camp, by the time I was ready to glue on Thursday afternoon, any excess moisture levels were a total non-issue.

This has been a summer of gluing for me, between practice rounds on Mimi, and gluing for/at the Tevis Ed Ride. It’s not hard, per se…it really just takes being able to follow directions, be organized, and have the right tools.

Ride Story: Tevis Educational Ride 2017

One step closer to my Tevis buckle dreams.

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The Tevis Educational Ride has been on my radar for a number of years, for obvious reasons. 1) It’s Tevis-related. 2) Chance to see the trail ahead of time. 3) Chance to be mentored by experienced Tevis finishers and learn appropriate pacing and other ride strategies.

The Ed Ride is held every other year (alternating with the “Fun Ride” which doesn’t cover as much of the trail, and isn’t quite as involved with mentoring/education), and includes two days of riding over basically 2/3 of the trail in a small group (2-3 people/mentor), as well as extra clinics and seminars that are particularly relevant to Tevis. To give an idea of the experience and educational value earned, despite the fact you cover 64 miles over the two days, completing the Ed Ride counts as 150 qualifying miles, for those trying to make their 300 qualifying miles to ride Tevis.

However, it’s a big time and $ commitment, especially if you don’t live in the area, so for those reasons (as well as timing, horse suitability, etc.), I’d never managed to make it to the Ed Ride. Fortunately, over the last few years, I’ve had a number of opportunities to do various and sundry pre-rides on the Tevis trail, usually coinciding with my mostly-annual crewing trips to Tevis.

This year, I was offered a chance to do the Ed Ride. A friend was going up to be an Ed Ride mentor, and had an extra horse she wanted to also have see the trail. I didn’t even have to think about that one at all — count me in for sure!

Fast forward to the Wednesday before the Ed Ride. I flew up to Las Vegas, NV early in the morning, Cathy picked me up from the airport, and we headed back to her place to finish packing and prep work. I met my ride for the weekend, an 8-year-old Al-Marah-bred gelding named Dean. This is his first season of endurance (after flunking out of both reining and dressage training) and he’s done 7 50’s to date, so went into the weekend with a good fitness base and some good seasoning and exposure to the sport (he’s done several XP rides, so technical trail was nothing new to him).

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AM Magestic Dean (AlMarah Mr Dream x Al-Marah HRH Domaine)

We got tack sorted and cleaned, stirrup lengths adjusted, and then glued hind boots on, a process that actually happened with minimal swearing or teeth gnashing.

While both horses have good hooves and tend to wear boots well, both of us opted for the extra insurance of using Renegade Pro-Comp Glue-Ons for the hind boots for the weekend. The canyons on the Tevis trail are a notoriously difficult place to keep boots on, thanks to a combination of climbing, some technical spots, some water crossings, and the amount of sweat that ends up coming off the horses.

Between Cathy, Cathy’s husband, and myself, we got both horses glued in less than an hour, taking into account boot sizing, gathering of materials, and then the actual gluing itself. Not too bad. The process for gluing Renegades isn’t necessarily difficult, per se…it’s just precise, and if the proper steps aren’t followed or followed sufficiently, then the glue job won’t be successful. And spoiler alert: they all stayed on through the whole weekend.

Thursday morning the horses got a quick bath, then we loaded up and were down the road. Because it’s a good 10+ hours between Vegas and Foresthill with a trailer, we had opted to split the drive into two days and overnight in Fallon, NV on the way up.

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driving by Walker Lake

It was a 6-1/2-hour drive on the way up, including one gas stop. Around Hawthorne and up past Walker Lake, we ran into some unexpected clouds/rain, which was a welcome relief and dropped the temperatures down into the 80s.

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settled in at the Churchill County Regional Park/Fallon fairgrounds

They got a chance to do a quick leg stretch in the arena (although were more interested in rolling in the dirt) before we settled them in a pen for the night. For us humans, luxury came in the form of power hookups and water at the campsites…hello, air conditioning and shower! I could very easily get used to this.

Friday morning, we loaded up and were back on the road bright and early after one last leg-stretching session in the arena. While they hadn’t done much the previous evening, they put on quite show in the morning — running, leaping, twirling, the full Arabian routine.

It was about a 4-hour haul through Reno, over Donner Pass, into Auburn, and onto Foresthill (including a fuel stop and stop at the CA/NV border ag station).

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stopped at the ag station. still snow on the mountains!

We pulled into camp at the Foresthill Mill Site (same location as the Foresthill vet check at Tevis) shortly before noon, and there were already at least a dozen rigs there.

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settled in at camp

Once they were settled on their respective Hi-Ties, we went over to check in for the weekend (Cathy as a mentor and myself as a rider), and go lighten our wallets at the Tevis Store. (My most-abused phrase of the weekend any time I would spend $ was “But it’s for a good cause!” as it all benefits the WSTF and the Tevis trail.)

I impulse-bought a couple of Kerrits IceFil items, as I was rapidly cooking in the hot sun and decided that the long-sleeve IceFil shirts were probably my best bet for weekend attire…and since I only had one long-sleeve shirt to bring with me, well, impulse shopping took care of that little problem.

Vetting in started at 3, and I believe we were over there shortly after it started. Fortunately there were patches of shade we were able to stand in while we waited in line.

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We’ll take it. Given he had eaten all night previously, and in the trailer, and all afternoon at camp, I wasn’t too concerned about the couple of B’s on gut sounds.

He even trotted out nicely for me…which he does when he feel like it. However, once the ride starts, his general attitude towards trot-outs is “Can’t Be Bothered.” Can’t complain about his other ground manners, though — stands politely, doesn’t fuss or trod on people, and an angel for vet handling.

Late afternoon the riders all gathered for a meet-n-greet with their chosen mentors. For the first day “long ride” option, there is a entry cap of 20 mentors and 60 riders, keeping the groups a nice, manageable size of 3 riders per mentor. It’s a pretty casual, relaxed affair — the mentors list their names, and the speed they intend to pace at (“fast”, “medium”, or “slow”), and riders can then sign up with their preferred mentor. Obviously since I was traveling with Cathy and riding one of her horses, I was signed up with her. :)

In-between the meet-n-greet and one of the educational seminars, I was called upon for some emergency boot-gluing services for one of the ladies who would be riding with our group. The gaiters of the boots she had been using the previous day had rubbed on her horse, making him sore enough to be off, and she wasn’t sure if she would be able to ride the next day or not. Cathy had extra Renegade glue-ons packed with her, so we offered to glue them on and see if it made a difference.

20 minutes later, front boots were glued, the horse was standing happily, and after a couple hours of letting the glue fully set up, he trotted sound. I made no promises as to how it would hold up, given the fact that, despite helping with doing glue-ons for a number of years now, I had yet to actually tackle an entire glue job on my own.

I guess that’s on-the-job training?

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Spoiler Alert 2: They also stayed on ;)

The evening lecture was from Susan Garlinghouse, DVM, and she gave a really good lecture on feeding and electrolyting, specifically with 100-milers in mind, and some Tevis-specific relevant tips. She is always so generous with her knowledge on some of the Facebook groups, and really knows her stuff in regards to nutrition and performance. She’s also a highly entertaining speaker (bonus points for working in the phrase “take it worth a grain of salt” when discussing electrolytes), and knows how to distill down information into easily-digestible tidbits for us laypeople.

A local taco truck came in and set up shop on-site for Friday meals, and three tacos later, I was quite satisfied during the ride meeting. The ride meeting was pretty straight-forward, covering logistics: we would meet down at the Mill Site entrance at our designated times, load up into shuttle trailers, and be taken up to the start at Mumford Bar trailhead, where we would be dropped off and then ride the 25 miles back to Foresthill along the trail.

A note regarding the Ed Ride trail this year: Due to the absurdly high snowpack levels in the Sierras, the Ed Ride followed a slightly different route. The first canyon (with the “Swinging Bridge” at the bottom) had suffered some trail damage from a mud/rock slide, and while it had been open for the Western States Run last month, it wasn’t safe for horses, and while repairs will be complete by the time Tevis rolls around, an alternate start was designed for the Ed Ride.

Instead of going up to Robinson Flat, we were dropped off at Mumford Bar trailhead, about half an hour drive from Robinson Flat, and rode down Deadwood Road to the Deadwood vet check, bypassing the first canyon entirely. (At this point, I am convinced that I will not actually see the first canyon until I actually ride Tevis.) 

From Deadwood, we picked up the actual trail and took it the rest of the way in to Foresthill. Obviously, this shortened the mileage from the standard 32-mile day to about 25 miles, so for the small handful of people who needed the full mileage of the Ed Ride for their Tevis qualifying miles, they also had an out-and-back segment added on to their route to make up the miles and the descent/climb.

Day Two also experienced some trail alternations. The American River is flowing at a rate that is almost 5x what is ideal/safe for horses to cross — the winter rain/snow and subsequent snowmelt has the river flowing uncontrolled over the Oxbow Reservoir spillway. Because the river is normally dam-controlled and under regulated release, the high point of the water releases normally don’t hit that far downstream at the river crossing point until late afternoon, making it safe to cross in the earlier parts of the day. The dam-controlled aspect is also what allows the river to be held back for the duration of the Tevis ride day, making is safe to cross even in the late night/wee hours of the morning.

Normally the Ed Ride would get to the river and cross it early enough in the day to then continue on in to Auburn. This year, however, we were re-routed after Francisco’s to continue up Driver’s Flat Road (the road that is used to access the Francisco’s vet check) and finish at the Lower Driver’s Flat parking area for an approximately 20-mile day, and then be shuttled back to Foresthill from there.

Friday night was a bit restless, as it usually is for me, interrupted by Dean busting loose from his Hi-Tie at one point. Fortunately he didn’t go anywhere, but that involved having to r-attach his rope to the Hi-Tie.

So when my alarm went off, I was happy to get up and get on with things. Because saddles had already been packed the previous evening, all I had to do was pull on riding clothes, drink my coffee and eat some breakfast, then go tack up.

Cathy’s horses are used to being trailered with their tack on, so that was one less thing to mess with — just walked them down to the meeting area and they hopped right into the trailer, and we were on our way.

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our group: Gayle/Bo, me/Dean, Cathy/Tempest, Liz/Boon

From our drop-off point at Mumford Bar, we mounted up and headed down Foresthill Rd for a little less than a mile to the turnoff on Deadwood Rd. Fortunately it was early enough on a Saturday morning that traffic wasn’t an issue.

In my typical catch-rider fashion, I climbed on Dean for the first time there at the trailhead. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from him…he had done a number of rides already this year, and only a tiny handful of minor indiscretions since Cathy had him…but old habits die hard (for me) and I still have a hard time relaxing and just jumping on board without wondering if the explosion will follow shortly thereafter.

He was just fine, and handled all of the commotion at the trailhead and heading out onto the street without fuss. He did start trying to jig and get really bunched up about 1/4-mile in when Tempest started outwalking him, so rather than get into an argument or have to get too in his mouth, I just jumped off and started hand-walking him down the road until we reached the Deadwood Rd turnoff. Once I climbed back on, we started trotting, and we found a better rhythm from there.

It was about 7 miles down Deadwood Rd to water, and we alternated walking and trotting, switching off and rotating through who was leading. We got passed by several groups — riding a faster pace than we were, but got a later start for shuttling or getting on the trail. No biggie — it was a great place to pass, since it was a dirt road. However, once we had been passed, Dean suggested to me a couple of times that “Wouldn’t you like to catch those horses ahead?” Nope, dude, we’re hanging back and taking it easy today.

We connected up with the actual Tevis trail about 7 miles in, at what would normally be the top of the climb out of the first canyon — the Devil’s Thumb water stop. They had troughs out, so the horses were able to tank up really well, and then we moseyed in the mile +/- into the Deadwood vet check.

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Devil’s Thumb area. The break in the fence on Cathy’s left is where the normal trail comes in.

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single-track trail into Deadwood (sorry, horrible mixed light meant most of my photos aren’t the greatest)

There was quite a back-up for the vet line at Deadwood, so we had some time to let them drink and eat. There was a volunteer there doing courtesy pulses — since I had no idea what to expect, I had her check Dean and she said he was at 68 just coming in.

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waiting in line at Deadwood

Once he got a drink, we did the actual P&R…unfortunately, the pulse taker was just putting ’60’ on the cards if they were at or below criteria, so I don’t know what Dean actually came in at since all pulse taker said was “he’s way down, so as long as they’re down, I’m just putting 60 on the card.” :/ Would have liked the accuracy for information’s sake, but what can you do? <shrug>

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when you’re waiting, you take pictures. this guy just makes me grin.

I took advantage of the downtime to fill my bottles and water pack, and grab some snacks and stuff my face. Practicing efficiency was one of my goals for the weekend, so I felt good about using my time in line well.

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clean-up crew at Deadwood

Dean vetted well, and after everyone in our group was ready to go, we scuttled off down the trail towards El Dorado Canyon.

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in line at Deadwood

There are a couple of exposed areas going down the canyon that make me squeak a bit. Funny enough, I’m actually better about those spots when I can trot through them, but on this day, we ended up walking some of those areas, so I jumped off and lead for a little bit. Dean and I were at the back of our group, so it was more efficient for me to power hike or do some jogging than to be doing the speed up/slow down thing in the saddle.

This trail can really mess with your head in parts. At one point, I swore I was seeing what looked like a little trickle of water/mud across the trail — which there was — that then opened up into a puddle of water that was reflecting the trees and greenery. Ummm, not so much on the puddle part. It was actually open air and really tall trees. That was kind of an “eep” moment for me, and I doubled down on keeping a really strong leg on Dean, reminding him that there was a drop-off there.

It was hot, hot, hot down at the bottom of the canyon, so we only lingered for a brief moment before continuing onward, bemoaning the fact that El Dorado Creek was so difficult to access. However, they had the route detoured to the little creek that is just off the trail a little ways, and we were able to let the horses drink and give them a good sponging.

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climbing up the Michigan Bluff side of El Dorado Canyon

The climb up to Michigan Bluff is long, and hot, and the horses all start thinking you’re a little bit crazy. Fortunately there’s actually a good amount of shade along the way, but being in a canyon, there’s not much air movement, so it gets pretty warm when you’re walking up the climb.

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manzanita tunnel at the top of the canyon

Once you hit the manzanita tunnel, that’s a sign that you’re near the top of the canyon and almost to Michigan Bluff.

On ride day, Michigan Bluff is a water stop only, but for the Ed Ride, they did have a vet check there. All of the horses drank well as we sponged them down, and Dean was at pulse criteria within a couple minutes of coming in and drinking.

There was a line for the vet here as well, so we found some shade and hay and again let them eat.

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Yeah, happy with that.

Rather than get bogged down in another line at the Pieper Junction/Chicken Hawk check, we elected to hang out a few extra minutes and let them eat at MB before moseying out and making our way the couple miles to the next check.

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“Frat Boy” at MB — eating, drinking, chillin’ in the shade

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riding out of Michigan Bluff. An iconic Tevis moment when doing the ride…being there at the Ed Ride was enough to give me chills

The road between MB and PJ/CH is pretty trottable, although I had forgotten that there’s a little climb slipped in there (~400′ in less than a mile, but it’s right before the check, and all the little climbs add up).

Our strategy initially paid off when we reached the check, as there were way fewer people in line ahead of us…unfortunately, while we were pulsed down and standing in line at one of the troughs, a group behind us slipped in to an open trough ahead of us…and then decided that was “their” place in the vet line. Lesson learned: if you’re in the back of the line and people come in behind you, make sure they know you’re the back of the line. Or don’t leave a gap in-between troughs that people can slip into.

If it had been an actual ride, chasing the clock, I would have been more upset, but we weren’t being timed, and we were already out there…what difference was an extra ten minutes going to make, under the circumstances?

Dean was a little lackadaisical in his trot-out, earning him B’s on gait/impulsion/attitude, and for me to quip, “B for ‘Can’t Be Bothered.'”

One out of the check, we collectively as a group decided that we’d like to try a slightly faster pace whenever appropriate for this last canyon, as it was getting pretty warm and we were all about ready to be done for the day.

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down into Volcano Canyon

Volcano Canyon is the “baby” of the three canyons, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in being much rougher and rumblier footing. I last rode this canyon in 2014, and was able to jog-trot a good part of it…this year, we were reduced to a slithering walk on a lot of it.

The Volcano Creek crossing itself was a bit exciting. It’s always pretty rocky and slippery, and this year, Volcano Creek was a lot higher and faster-flowing than normal. Dean and I were in the lead at this point, and when he got to the edge, he decided, “Nope, not happening.” I jumped off as he contemplating back up the uphill single-track with a few drop-off areas, knowing I was probably going to have to get wet in order to get him across. I glanced at a couple of rocks, briefly contemplated rock hopping, concluded my odds of slipping on the rocks and ending up all the way in the creek were probably greater than not, and resigned myself to trudging across.

Yes, ultrarunner is a wimp who doesn’t like getting her feet wet.

Sure enough, the rocks were slippery, and Dean had a few slip-n-slide moments down in the creek, with a quick scramble at the end to get the heck outta there.

The water was cold, but felt really good, and I ended up about mid-calf deep after we cleared the main part of the stream and moved off to the other side to allow more of our group to fit in. This was another great chance to sponge the horses down, and since I was already partially wet, I squeezed several spongefuls of water over my own head/neck.

The last bit of climb out of Volcano Canyon goes by a lot quicker, and then we were at Bath Road. Now that is the part that takes way longer than expected. It’s the road that just keeps going.

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heading up Bath Rd, almost back to Foresthill

Dean was still perfectly happy to keep offering to trot, especially when some of the larger horses would out-walk him, and a few times, I obliged…a few other times, I insisted he needed to work on his “walk out” skills.

And then we were back at Foresthill and the familiar entrance to the Mill Site…a path I’ve traveled a number of times now with crewing. We got the horses pulsed down and while Dean initially was presenting to the pulse person at 64, as soon as dummy here realized I forgot to loosen his girth, his pulse immediately dropped to 56. (How long have I been doing my vet check routine of dismount and immediately loosen girth?)

We dumped off their tack at the trailer, then immediately went over to vet. Dean gave me the most unimpressive trot-out ever (seriously, can’t be bothered), although I guess he still looked perky enough for A’s on his movement scores, and the vet had some useful tips for teaching smart trot-outs.

We discovered he did have a slightly sore girth rub (coincided with the nylon edge of the billet keeper strap), as well as some scrapes and dings on a hind leg from slipping in Volcano Creek, although those were all surface.

Once we were vetted out for the day, it was back to the trailer to clean them up and let them eat, and our riding group hung out in the shade and re-hydrated ourselves until it was time for the BBQ dinner.

They served some delicious grilled chicken and tri-tip, plus salad, watermelon, and garlic sourdough bread. I know I’m pretty easy to feed, especially after a day of riding, but this really hit the spot, and we wrapped up the evening with a Q&A panel of half a dozen experienced Tevis riders answering open forum questions posed to them.

Some interesting tidbits were picked up, but my biggest takeaway from the panel is “you need to figure out what works best for you and your individual horse.” If you get the same/similar enough answer on a subject from half a dozen very experienced people, then it’s likely that is a reliable tidbit to file away as “critical information” for later.

But things like shoes/splint boots/electrolytes are all such personal topics that depend very much on the individual horse and rider, and you can try to emulate a person and everything they do as much as you want, but that isn’t going to guarantee you the same level of success if that particular protocol isn’t appropriate for your horse or you as a rider.

Anyway…after the panel wrapped up, Cathy and I made a quick decision after looking at saddles, Dean’s girth rub, and girth options…since we had each saddle set up for ourselves with our individual packs, etc., and since the saddle Cathy was riding was rigged just slightly different than the one I was riding, rather than switch everything between the saddles, we would keep our saddles and just switch horses. Unconventional, I guess, but it worked.

So Sunday morning saw me crawling out of bed and repeating the same morning routine of riding clothes/coffee/breakfast. I had already filled my water pack and set saddle snacks out, so I just had to stuff bottles and snacks into the pommel pack, put front boots on, tack up, and we were ready to go.

Sunday’s route was a point-to-point of California Loop up Driver’s Flat Rd, at which point we would be shuttled back to Foresthill. I did this exact same route last summer with Lucy and Kaity, and while I had a few “squeaky” moments, overall I was surprised by how “not scary” I found Cal Loop to be. (I’m sure it’ll feel different in the dark, but with my overactive imagination, it’s far better for me to go into a scenario knowing “yep, have already done this trail, we can handle it” than to be wondering just what the heck we’re traversing over.)

I also had the advantage today of being on the experienced horse — Tempest finished Tevis last year, so she knew where we were at as well. From the get-go she felt good, snorting softly as we trotted by the cemetery (another “I see dead people” horse), and striding out through town. Even if she did have to stare suspiciously at the liens in the road and any stop sign/crossing writing on the road.

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“Slow? I don’t wanna go slow.” Theme of the day.

Dean and Cathy initially lead out once we passed through town and hit the trail, but Tempest was in fire-breathing dragon mode (which I’m familiar with thanks to Mimi) and was having way too much fun breathing down the more slow-moving Dean’s back, so I shuffled her to the front at the first appropriate moment and we led the way down Cal Loop.

I wasn’t sure what to expect the second time through — now that I had seen and knew what parts I considered kind of “scary,” would I be looking for them? Would it seem worse? There’s one exposed section with very little “catch vegetation” before Cal 1 that I hadn’t cared for, but for whatever reason, it didn’t even register in my brain this time. We reached Cal 1, and I had a moment of going “wait, we’re at Cal 1 already?”

Now, we did have a “moment” at one of the Dardanelles Creek crossings on the way to Cal 1. There was a very large step-down into a very rocky crossing — hard to find good footing, and the water depth was hard to see. I once again hopped off, this time making it across without getting soaked, but when Tempest went to cross, she slipped and did a very impressive flail/scramble to get through. If it gives you an idea of the degree of scramble, one of her fetlock interference boots ended up inside out and up near her hock.

Lesson learned: try to stay on the horse if at all possible on water crossings. I just wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get her to cross it without a major fight or a ridiculous cross-country leap over it. Hindsight, even the leap probably would have been better.

So much of Cal Loop is so trottable. The footing is good, for the most part, and the grades are gentle enough to allow for some good stretches of continuous trotting. Which Tempest was more than happy to oblige.

Just after Cal 1, we switched it up and put Dean in the front again. Fire-breathing dragon mode activated on Tempest again, and I got some good practice in riding off my core, and using seat and legs to keep her an appropriate distance back versus hanging in her mouth the whole time. We reached a fair-to-middling compromise on the issue.

The section between Cal 1 and Cal 2 was a little longer than I remembered, although fortunately there were some natural springs/creeks flowing for the horses to drink. But we did reach Cal 2, and set off down those switchbacks. I swear, this whole trail flows like a time warp, because the Cal 2 switchbacks were a lot shorter than I remembered.

The Ford’s Bar section — where you climb up, and then climb right back down — was just as nonsensical as I remembered. This area was a part of last year’s Trailhead Fire that burned just a few weeks before Tevis, but some of the greenery is already starting to come back.

The next section, between Ford’s Bar and Sandy Bottom, also had some “exposure” sections I hadn’t been real fond of previously, but I actually felt comfortable enough to trot through a good part of it this time. Tempest is really sure-footed and smooth, so it’s easy to feel really comfortable on her. She tended to “look” at things, especially rocks/logs, but all she would do was tip her head and start a little bit, and I never felt worried about her slipping or stepping off the trail.

Down at Sandy Bottom, we were fortunate enough to find an access point down to the river, so we took several minutes to go down and let the horses drink, and stand in the  water and cool off. After the previous day’s water-crossing episode, I was pretty immune to the whole “I don’t wanna get wet” thing, so tromped right into the river myself, getting knee deep, and using the horse sponge to thoroughly drench my head/neck.

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Cathy with Dean in the foreground; me and my obnoxiously fluorescent sponge (and a sulking Tempest) in the back

Tempest didn’t find the river nearly as amusing as the rest of us. She drank well, but had to be begrudgingly dragged fetlock-deep into the water so I could more easily sponge her. (Also not an amusing trick, per her.)

That was the most refreshing 5-minute break ever, and totally worth the time spent.

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down at Sandy Bottom

From there, it was a couple more miles along the river road to Francisco’s. Normally a check on the ride (an initially supposed to be a check for the Ed Ride), this time the road down to the check was too rutted out to be able to safely get vehicles/volunteers down to that point. They were able to get several troughs, hay, and some people snacks and waters, down to a spot just before Francisco’s, so we had a chance to get more water and let the horses eat for a few minutes before heading up to and through the Francisco’s meadow and up Driver’s Flat Rd.

We passed by the turnoff the trail takes to Poverty Bar — Tempest glanced that way, and then kept peering off to the side as we climbed the road, as if to say “Umm, don’t we go that way?” Nope, not this time. Climb, climb, climb we go, up ~1800′ in ~2 miles. Tempest was a climbing machine — any time I’d offer to let her stop in the shade, she’d brush off the offer and just keep marching.

The Lower Driver’s Flat parking lot was a welcome sight — hay and water for horses, food and cold water for people, and lots of shade to hang out and take a breather for a bit. They made this our finishing point, so when we vetted out, we were done for the day.

I forgot to get a pic of the vet card, but I do remember Tempest vetted out very well (she does a gorgeous in-hand trot-out), and had pulsed down to 52 by the time she was finished drinking.

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hanging out at Driver’s Flat

We hung out around the troughs and in the shade for probably about 10 minutes after we were done, letting the horses eat and drink. At one point, I was sitting on the edge of the trough, and Tempest decided she was so thirsty, she was getting to that trough no matter what…pretty sure she was intent on pushing me in if I hadn’t slid out of the way fast enough. (That would be the side of her that qualifies for “mare ‘tude.”)

Then we moseyed up to the Upper Driver’s Flat parking lot where we were able to shuttle back to Foresthill with a couple of other riders. Got the ponies untacked and cleaned up, and while Cathy worked on packing up the trailer, I worked on removing hind boots.

There are a couple of ways you can go about removing glue-on boots. You can use a flat-head screwdriver and chisel between the hoof wall and boot wall and break the glue bond. You can chop the boot wall off in pieces with hoof nippers. Or you can cut the sole of the boot away and then peel the boot wall off the hoof wall. I opted for the third option.

You do want a horse that stands quietly, as you’re going to be working with a knife. If they don’t stand well, or have a tendency to fidget, maybe use one of the other options. Even with a quiet horse, be careful. It’s still an exposed knife blade. I use a straight edge box cutter, something I can adjust so that only a small amount of the blade is sticking out, just enough to penetrate the thickness of the boot wall. Cut around the outside of the boot, at the point where the boot wall joins the boot sole. Since there’s no glue on the sole of the hoof, once the cut is complete, you can pop the sole of the boot off the hoof. Then grab a corner of the boot wall and start peeling it off the hoof wall.

I had both horses hind boots off in about 15 minutes.

Very pleased with my experience in using glue-ons for the weekend. I love the ease and convenience of using a strap boot for training and the vast majority of rides I do. But for certain scenarios, it is really nice to have the glue-ons as an option.

The afternoon wrapped up with an awards presentation for our completion certificates (pictured at the top), and a giveaway prize raffle. (I actually won an ice pack shoulder wrap thing.) The ultimate prize, of course, was a Tevis entry. Nope, didn’t win the Tevis entry. ;)

Cathy headed out after awards — Tempest is slated to go to Tevis is year, so rather than haul all the way back to Vegas, and then back up to Tevis less than a month later, she found a place outside of Reno to keep the horses and will fly back in ahead of Tevis.

And I headed for Tevis Low Camp (aka Lucy’s, aka my Sierra Foothills home away from home), where I got a shower, pizza, beer, and lots of laughs and great conversation. Monday morning, Lucy deposited me off at the Sacramento airport (seriously, I know this place as well as Phoenix at this point), and I came home to two very happy pups.

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It was an absolutely amazing weekend…ride management and all of the volunteers put on a fantastic ride, I learned a ton, and had a blast. I can’t thank Cathy enough for providing me the opportunity to participate in the Ed Ride weekend, and for sharing her ponies with me.

Next up: Food/Drink/Clothing/Tack/Afterthoughts

Whirlwinds of March

I know the whole “In like a lion, out like a lamb” saying that applies to the month of March, but there has been nothing meek and mild about my schedule this March. Actually, 2017 has started off strong and just keeps gaining in momentum.

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view from 7100′ at the top of Mt Ord on a training run

After logging some great training runs in January and February, March handed me back-to-back travel weekends for work. One planned way out, one very last minute.

The last-minute trip was the first weekend of March, when I was offered the chance to go be the Renegade rep at the FITS (Fun in the Sun) endurance ride in Florida, hosted by Valerie Kanavy at her Florida farm.

That was an absolutely amazing weekend. I learned a ton, provided some good exposure for Renegade, was on-hand for customer service needs, and picked up a number of valuable tips and tricks for riding, training, and crewing. Valerie was a wonderful host and I very much enjoyed getting the chance to talk with her and spend the time at her farm.

Once I got back from Florida, I had just a couple of days to unpack and repack before turning around and heading back to the airport, this time to Dallas, TX, for the annual AERC Convention. This was my fifth time attending convention, and I had an absolute blast. Running the Renegade booth went really smoothly, the venue was really nice, and I got in some really good socializing and networking.

This was my first time spending any significant amount of time in TX (overnighting at a horse motel in Amarillo on a road trip 19 years ago hardly counts) and I was really surprised by the amount of water and vegetation in the Dallas area. Would have loved to spend more time there and explore the areas some more, but I was able to get out Friday evening for some excellent BBQ!

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March isn’t done with me yet…while I’m at home this weekend, I’m still working, this time doing the in-home catering for one of Mom’s memory art workshops. (A bit of a scheduling bummer, as I had several catch ride offers for Old Pueblo…but there’s something to be said about jumping on the opportunity to make $$$…see RP saddle caption above about the Money Tree.)

I want to slot at least one more good, double-digit training run in this weekend (Sunday), and then it’ll be the downward “just maintain and don’t do anything crazy” taper leading up to Crown King 50k on April 1.

AERC Convention 2016

Another whirlwind Convention weekend has come and gone, leaving me short on sleep but exhilarated, inspired, and content after spending the weekend with some of my best friends and endurance “tribe.”

Convention means:

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running the Renegade Hoof Boots booth

 

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snow on the way in to Reno

 

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saddle testing…meet the new love of my life that will someday be gracing a saddle rack in the tack room…one of the flapless ReactorPanel models

 

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way too much fun with saddle testing…where’s that Money/Saddle Fairy when I need her?!?

 

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hanging out with friends

With tack swap sales, a teeny bit of shopping, really yummy food (all-you-can-eat sushi!!!) and drinks all thrown in, it makes for a really fun weekend.

Capped off with a driving tour of the Virginia City 100 ride, courtesy of Lucy and Kaity, who have both ridden it multiple times. They succeeded in getting me hooked on the idea of doing this ride, for sure.

Tevis Time

We’re at under a week now until I take off for my Annual Tevis Adventure, so probably time for me to come up with something to say for my Annual Tevis Musings. I’m not sure what I can add that I haven’t covered in past years…search for the “Tevis” tag under categories on the right sidebar if you want to see all of the previous posts.

Last year’s post with links to videos, information, and other resources.

I’m crewing for Kaity again this year…she’s be riding her newer horse Ani, the one she took on last year‘s pre-rides. She is rider #85, which we have concluded is a Good Number. If you visit http://www.teviscup.org starting on Friday, 7/31, there will be a link to follow along with the webcast, with as-close-to-realtime-as-possible (wilderness areas, strictly radio communication, limited internet access points) updates, photos, rider statuses, pull lists, and more. Rider numbers have been posted, and as of 7/22, there were 205 sign-ups (limit is 210).

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Fergus at Robinson Flat, 2014

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Kody at the Finish, 2013

Ahead of Tevis, part of my work for Renegade Hoof Boots is rider coordination — finding out who is intending to ride Tevis in the boots, and what size and style they need, and making sure they get their boots well ahead of time to be able to do any adjusting or re-sizing if need be. During the ride, there’s not much for me to do — these are experienced riders who have successfully completed rides with the boots and have a sense of what they’re doing, and everyone is highly encouraged to carry spares or back-ups should they encounter a patch of boot-eating trail. (It happens. Rugged trails tend to eat horse hoofwear of all kinds. Nothing out there is perfect.)

While I’d love to do a repeat of last year’s Tour de Tevis Trails, this year won’t involve quite that much time away…but I’m still hoping to sneak at least one ride in to help dial-in boot fit (photos and online troubleshooting can do a lot, but sometimes, I just really like to get my hands on the horse/boots, especially for some of the more challenging ones…sometimes something can be hard to explain, but you can feel when you get the fit dialed in, and then subsequently be able to show someone what you’re talking about).

This’ll be year #7 for me to crew…at this point, I could almost hang out my “professional Tevis crew” shingle, eh?