"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obstacle Course

Today I went on a 2 hour, 7 mile ride with Kathy and Queenie with the goal of doing more trotting and maybe some cantering.

THESE BOOTS!! I heart them so! And so does Lily!
We finally, FINALLY figured out her sizes: size 0s with size 0 captivators in front, size 0s with size 1 captivators on her hinds. It only took like 2 months to figure it out, but it's because I suck at measuring things. If I'd measured her in millimeters right off the bat, we would have gotten it right the first time. Thank you Mel for all your help, wisdom, and patience!
Ready to go.

We returned to the park across the street and took the new trail with the 2 creek crossings, doing a combination of walking and trotting for short bursts - Queenie is gaited but is out of shape. If Lily and I trot to long, Queenie breaks the gait and starts to trot, too. So we're practicing keeping her gaiting by keeping the faster-paced spurts shorter.

This particular trail dead-ends in a meadow. Since it was just Kathy and me, I asked her to wait a sec while I explored what seemed to be yet another trail going up a hill off the side of the meadow. I sent Lily up the hill at a trot. Halfway up, it looked like there was no trail at all, but Lily saw the path between the trees before I did: she took off into a gallop towards it at the same time that I yelled back at Kathy: "There IS a trail!!" I heard Queenie cantering up the hill behind us.
This is the "trail" we found. We were on the ridge of the hill.
The trail veered off towards the right (see Lily "pointing" at it? Again I noticed it after she did!) and looped around, eventually taking us back to the main trail.
I really enjoy doing all of this exploring with Kathy and Queenie. They're both so game for adventuring!
We made our way back and took a different fork in the path that eventually took us to the big river crossing. We pretty much had time to ride as much as we wanted, so we took this route for the second time ever. Again Lily dove right into the water when I pointed her at the shore.

Kathy admiring the gorgeous view of the river.
Queenie's look of "Whatevs" cracks me up.
This view! Taken from Lily's back as we stood in the middle of the water.
See? :)
Love this one. I had asked her to stand, trying to convince her to drink, a skill that she needs to learn.  She was looking at me out of the corner of her eye like, "Seriously? This water is freakin' cold."
Kathy takes a photo!
I put my phone back on its holster, and of course right at that moment Lily decided to drink and play with the water...so you guys will just have to take my word for it!

Lily and I crossed ahead and Queenie took her sweet time getting across.
Kathy thought maybe she wanted to take a drink, but she never did.

You can see here that the water is a respectable depth. Queenie was walking along the shallowest route.

And these babies stayed on going through that!
This is why you get bright-colored boots (if you can)! It makes it so much easier to just look down and check that they're all still in place. I almost got them in black and this convenience has made me glad I didn't. :)

This part of the trail has to be gorgeous in spring/summer: there are arches of vines over the trail.
I call it the dried-up Garden of Eden.

More invisible trail. There were a couple of times where I paused because I really couldn't see the way, but Lily would turn and find it every time. She's amazing. Mind you, we were going away from home, too!

The best part of this ride was when we cantered.  As we were walking along the leaf-covered trail in this section, I asked Kathy if she wanted to trot. She gave me a mischievous grin and said, "Can we canter? I'd like to try to canter." I grinned from ear to ear, "Of COURSE!" Remember Kathy is a somewhat timid rider; her asking to canter was a big deal!

I cued Lily into a canter and she gave me the lovely uphill motion that she reserves for the trail. I heard Queenie pick up the canter right away behind us and match Lily stride for stride. We cantered until there was a dip in the trail and I brought Lily to a walk. Queenie came to a stop inches from Lily's rear end, but Lily doesn't mind that kind of thing. 

We alternated walking, trotting and cantering for the rest of the ride. We had a blast! Kathy later said that her main goals with Queenie have always been to just walk and trot...but she is really getting to like this cantering thing! She said it's more comfortable than her trot when she breaks gait. She was grinning like a little kid when she said that.

Lily owned the 1.5' bank drop into the river on the way home - no need for Queenie to lead the way back again.

As we came onto the park parking lot from the meadow trail, we discovered a million cars, a couple of vans, a police car with flashing lights, and people walking about. They were filming a commercial. 

Both mares looked with interest at the goings-on, but neither one batted an eye at anything. It was such a good ride!

However, we had one small scare at the very end of this ride that could have ended very, VERY badly. We had just trotted across the street to the farm side, when all of a sudden Queenie bolted. Lily startled and I brought her to a head-tossing stop at the same time I realized that Queenie had bolted because a dog had come running out of nowhere against the older mare's heels. I immediately swung Lily around to face the dog.

Kathy was able to bring Queenie to a stop between us and the street while the dog's owners came running out of the house and chased him around, trying to catch him. He was a German Shepherd mix, a young dog who had the sheepish look of a canine that knows he's been very, very naughty.

Why did I have Lily face the dog?
1. So the dog wouldn't follow us onto the barn driveway and the owners could just catch him already.
2. In case he tried to run towards the horses again, Lily and I were ready to chase him away.

Lily just stood there, looking on calmly, ears pricked. She never flinched at the dog running around. OMG I was SO proud of her! If I'd sicced her on that dog, she totally would have gone for it. Thankfully, we never had to put this to the test, as the owners of the dog finally caught him (right before he darted into the road himself!) and dragged him into the house, thanking us for stopping so they could catch him. 

I hope that's our last encounter ever with that dog. He lives in the house right on the corner of our barn and the street we have to cross to get to the park. NOT a good spot to have your horse getting chased by ANYTHING!

She had her grain mash afterwards and was then set free in her field. The setting sun behind the farm was so beautiful!


  1. Ok. Talk to me about the Renegades, because I have the Backcountry Gloves and I am beginning to hate them. They catch gravel at the back of his pastern. And they don't handle the water crossings well, since the velcro is already coming off/doesn't work. Finally, I think they are heavy and he doesn't really like them. I really want to do the Renegades, but am afraid to invest a ton of money into something I'm not sure about.

    1. I will talk your ear off about the Renegades if you want! :) I was wondering which boots you had for Ashke because they look so much like my Cavallos. In theory that style of boot is easy because they are simple to put on and take off, but they come with their own set of problems: my Cavallos would rub Lily's heels when her feet started sweating in the boots or got wet in water crossings. And they are heavy, too. And I don't know about the Backcountry Gloves, but the tread on the Cavallos was not as aggressive as I would have liked given our trail footing out here: clay, mud, rocks and grass. She slipped as much in those boots as if she were wearing steel shoes and I could tell it frustrated her.

      I was scared of the Renegades because they are in the upper price range for hoof boots but when they work, they work SO well! There was no dealer in my area, so I just contacted Mel from www.bootsandsaddles4mel.com via e-mail and talked to her about Lily's feet, her exercise program, and my riding goals. I measured her hooves (it shows you how on http://www.renegadehoofboots.com/sizing.html). Just do NOT measure in inches; measure in millimeters. It is so much more accurate! If I'd measured in millimeters from the start, we wouldn't have had so many problems getting her fit correctly from the start. And if you can, take photos of the ruler/measuring tape on the hoof, like what they show in that link, so you can send to Mel. Send all of that information to Mel, and she'll help you determine what size hoof boots and if you need cutbacks or not.

      She has used boots that you can buy if she has them in Ashke's size and it ends up being half price. I ended up with orange because I was originally trying to get used boots to save money, and most of her used boots are orange. As we realized there was a sizing issue, I ended up swapping out for new orange boots.

      I had 4 new boots when Liz helped me re-measure Lily (I was having problems with boot retention/spinning on her 2 larger feet and wanted her to double-check, since she's been using this brand for over a year now). After measuring in millimeters with Liz, I was horrified to realize that I needed to size down on all 4 feet!! Liz helped me take photos from the correct angles so Mel could really assess their fit as if she were there. This was a life saver! If you need to see which photo angles are needed to assess fit, let me know and I can e-mail you those photos.

      I contacted Mel again at this point, dreading having to send new boots back as used boots (I'd been riding in them for a month by then) and having to take a loss on exchanging them for yet another pair of new boots.

      Mel happily informed me that Renegade has a SIZING GUARANTEE!! I was able to exchange my incorrectly sized used new boots for new boots in the right size without losing money.

      So there you go. :) Go for it! They are so easy to put on and take off. The snugger ones on her larger feet just take a light tap to get the shell on and then you just flip the captivator up, set the foot down, and attach your Velcro straps. Those straps HOLD, too. And you get a free replacement pair of straps with your new boots and the little hex wrench for adjusting the cables with. Let me know if you have more questions!

    2. When do you do the measurements? We were trimmed on Oct 18th. Do I measure now or wait until we do a trim? We are trimming at 8 weeks and part of the issue I have with the Backcountry Gloves is that you really need to trim your own feet, because they need to be trimmed every time they go on. I also think they cause Ashke to be stumblefooted because they are like wearing dress shoes rather than sneakers. Does Lily have a mustang roll on her hooves? That's something my barefoot trimmer hasn't really been aggressive on and I would need to talk to her if we decided to go this direction. And you purchased them through Mel?

      Have you lost a Renegade yet? After they were fitted properly? We've lost the gloves off Cali and I have had issues with my straps staying closed with the Backcountrys.

      My only other question might be better answered by Mel. Ashke's feet grow wider in the front, rather than longer, as his hoof grows. I am using wides in the Gloves. Do the Renegades match that type of hoof?

      Thanks for your help.

    3. Ideally, his hooves should be measured right after the trim. That's a really long trim cycle for most boots, though. They usually recommend 4 weeks, maybe 6 inbetween trims. Do his feet not grow much in between trims? Would you be able to do touch-up trims inbetween if needed? Your trimmer should be able to show you how to do it and they can often give you a used rasp too. I'd talk to Mel about this, as you may want to measure in the middle of the trim cycle to make sure the boots still fit at the end of the 8 weeks.

      Renegade does recommend a mustang roll for better boot fit and I became more aggressive with my mustang roll after deciding to go this route. I don't think you need a huge roll; just a little bit should work. They just don't want a sharp edge on the hoof as it affects boot fit - the inside edges of the boot are rounded to accommodate a roll.

      Wider feet do work for these boots. Lily's right front is flat and pancake-like with barely any heels and it is a couple millimeters wider than it is long. The properly sized boot stays on. :) Hooves with high heels are the one big no-no for Rennies, but of course that can be corrected with trimming.

      I have not lost a Renegade yet after they were fitted properly. :) When I had her in 4 size 1s (one size too big), I had a front boot spin off twice while still attached to her pastern and lost a hind boot in a patch of sucking mud. We went through that same patch of mud in the size 0s and they stayed on.

    4. And yes, I got mine with Mel. She was awesome about my lack of measuring skills. Lol

  2. Haha I think I may end up having to spray paint my renegades orange because they are dirt brown lol (I got a great deal on them used so didn't really get to choose color). Anyway sounds like y'all had an awesome ride and glad the incident with the dog didn't end too badly!

    1. Orange, neon blue or an obnoxious lime green would all do the trick. :) I started out with used Rennies and the only color available was orange. As we started realizing that they were too big, we started swapping out for new Rennies in the orange so they would all match. After test riding them and being able to look down and see them, I decided I'd stick with the color. I wish they had other super-bright colors like this - I totally would have gone for an electric blue, which would also be easy to see among the mud and dry leaves. Lol

  3. I have been shown how to adjust the trim on his hooves inbetween trims and been given a rasp. Unfortunately, tools do not make a farrier and I have a hell of a time working bent over. Since even bending over at the waist to pick up a piece of paper can result in back pain that can buckle my knees, trying to hold up a foot and rasp away hoof wall, and then walk afterwards is a challenge.

    I can talk to my farrier about shortening the trim cycle to six weeks, since Ashke's feet do grow fairly quickly and I want to keep a mustang roll on his hooves. I feel like since we are supposed to fit the glove so tightly, that any growth tends to pinch his hooves, as seen by the bruising of his hoof wall.

    He doesn't have high heels and his front feet do tend to grow like platters. It does make me feel better to know that both you and Liz use them, since I know Liz rides Q (Arab). This gives me hope.

    First though, I need to work with my farrier to short our trim cycle and to roll his hooves.

    I'm thinking green would be a cool color, even if it doesn't match the lime saddlebags. At least it would be in the same color line.

    Thanks for your help!!

    1. I totally understand on not being able to do inbetween trims on his feet yourself. It's a lot of hard work and if you have any kind of back problem, it is impossible.

      And if it gives you even more hope, some of Mel's used boots are Farley's. Farley is a full-blooded Arabian and she has done Tevis twice in Renegades. Mel is very familiar with Arabians and fitting them with these boots, so you should be golden. :)

      And you're very welcome! I'm happy to help!

  4. I love those boots!! And they come in electric blue???? Blue is Chrome's color! If he ever decides he needs some foot protection I know what I'm getting hehe. :) I hope he doesn't ever need them on the rear though because he's clubby behind.... Your ride sounds amazing. I so miss those days. I need a riding buddy sooo bad!

    1. They sadly don't come in blue. At least, not the original model Renegades. They're working on a newer model called the Viper, and those do come in the lime green, but I don't know about blue. I was just suggesting standout colors for prairiewindlady in case she did decide to spray paint the boots. :)

    2. Wow sorry for the reading comprehension fail lol. Oh well I really like the orange too. :D Or maybe by the time we need them she will be making them in blue! One can hope hehe!

    3. Lol! No problem. Believe me, if they ever come out with blue, I'm second in line after you. :D It's our color, too. I just had to add the orange in to coordinate with the boots. Haha...Must match all the things! ;)

  5. I think Dancer needs a pair of those boots...

    1. Mel over at www.bootsandsaddles4mel.com is a great rep! :)