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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rockin' It

This Friday, Charles and I hauled out with the girls back to Little Bennett Regional Park to put in a long conditioning ride. My ambitious goal was 15 miles in 2.5 hours, with me being happy if we only did 12 in 2 hours. If it got too hot/humid, we'd leave do less. My goal pace for the day was 6 mph, which is the equivalent of a slow-moderate sustained trot, and the minimum pace you need to complete an endurance ride or LD within the alloted time frame (6 hours for an LD aka limited distance, 12 hours for 50 miles).

Little Bennett supposedly has 25 miles of horse trails but I suspect we might have covered them all on this ride. If there are 25 miles, there are extra trails that we don't know how to link up to: we did 13.5 miles by connecting every side trail we came across. And we did it in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Nailed it, yo! That's a PERFECT 6 mph average.

We arrived at the park by 10:00 am and between feeding the girls on arrival (Lily didn't want her mash but she wanted hay so she got hay; Gracie ate her mash like she always does) and getting them tacked up, we were on trail by 10:50 am. Lily had 1 dose of Enduramax + 1 dose of Perform n' Win mixed with water in a syringe, followed by a dose of Pro CMC, right before heading out on trail.

Lily, to my total surprise, had been very antsy at the trailer while waiting for Charles to get up on Gracie and she power trotted out onto that trail with ears pricked. I hadn't seen her this happy to be out on trail in a long time, and I wondered out loud to Charles if she somehow thought we were at a ride because she was in the full gear: all 4 boots, all saddle bags on board (I had my cantle bag for this ride too so I could carry spare boots), both things which only happen at rides. Though I later figured out that she was probably just that much more comfortable with all 4 boots on. Note taken, Lily.

One of the new trails we discovered on this outing. Gorgeous!!
Both horses were wearing hoof boots all around. Over the last 8 months I've been able to slowly collect some used Easyboot Gloves for Gracie. The night before, I put together some of Lily's Renegades so I'd have enough boots for her, since some of her Gloves have ended up with frayed gaiters and I can't for the life of me replace the broken gaiters without stripping the goddamn screws. *silent scream* Anyway, this was Gracie's first time ever wearing hoof boots and my first time resurrecting the Renegades since Fort Valley last year.

Lily started out with Renegade Vipers on her fronts and original Renegades on her hinds. I have accepted the fact that Renegade boots probably won't ever be a perfect fit for her imperfect TB front feet but I still don't understand why they won't work for her hinds, which are pretty much textbook: low heels, short rolled toes, no flares. I need to take the time to troubleshoot the hind boots at some point; Renegade has the best customer service of any hoof boot company and they truly stand by their products so it really is all on me that I haven't figured this out yet.

I brought 2 of Lily's Gloves as backups, which would end up getting slapped on her hoofers within the first few miles when the cables I had replaced on the Renegades slid back out. :( I'm hoping that by using their Pro Hex Driver next time around to tighten the boot screws I won't have this cable sliding issue anymore. There's only so much you can tighten the screws with an Allen wrench before stripping them.

The Gloves did fabulously on Gracie. She had 0.5W with power straps on both hinds and regular 0.5W with no power straps on her fronts. The only boot snafu we had with her was when the screws came undone on one of her hind boots. I guess that's why Easycare uses Locktite to glue in their screws? (Which is what makes them impossible to remove!) Charles ended up removing both hinds after this and the only other issue G-Mare had was her LF boot popping off twice at the canter, which honestly isn't bad for an almost 14 mile ride!

Another new trail: I had not encountered this river crossing before. The water was crystal-clear.
With Lily's boot issues, I went through my boots and spares until I only had 3 functional boots of the 6 I had started out with. Lilybird has a hole in the wall of her left hind hoof (of course it's the left hind!) which I think was incurred by the screw that caused her leg injury back in June. It has not caused any issues at all and since it is a horizontal crack, it has not changed in size.

That crack. It's grown lower the past week.
Btw, whoever said it takes an entire year for a horse to grow a new hoof is lying. Just sayin'.
But it has grown down over the last 2.5 months and right now one end of it is almost touching the ground so consequently I am trying really hard to not have that break off and take a giant chunk of hoof wall with it. I've been rasping off even the tiniest bit of flare on that hoof to prevent torque. This means that she is getting booted for rides, with Lily's hinds being the priority at the moment to avoid a slice of hoof getting ripped off by the terrain. My vet was out for vaccines this week and I did have her take a look just in case. She probed it and confirmed that it didn't seem to involve any of the hoof's sensitive tissues, but said that she might be sore on it if the chunk of hoof comes off. I have casting material ready to go for when that happens (my vet also approved of this plan): it will help protect the hoof as the wall finishes growing down.

I love this video. It is hard to believe sometimes that just a little over a year ago, this man had only ridden a horse a handful of times before in his life, and this horse was so out of shape and obese that she couldn't gait/trot for more than 15 consecutive minutes. I was watching them go in front of me and shaking my head in wonder. He's posting, guys!
Note the smooth transition into canter towards the end, too!

Since a horse can't wear 3 boots and be expected to be comfortable (you try jogging with only one shoe on gravel), I removed her fronts and left her with only hind boots on. By this point we were 8 miles into our ride, with Gracie taking a long turn at leading.

Lily started head bobbing slightly every other stride during this stretch at the trot. Once I was sure I wasn't imagining it, I called out to Charles to stop and I dismounted for the 7th time on this ride to mess with Lily's boots: her left hind Glove was a little twisted. I also checked to make sure she didn't have a stone stuck under either of her fronts. Nothing; everything looked great. No heat, swelling, pulses anywhere, and no new chips on her fronts to cause soreness.

I got back on, we walked for a while and then picked up the trot again. Slight head bob again. Again I dismounted and on a whim, I placed my third boot on Lily's LF (a Viper; it was still functional) and asked Charles for Gracie's functional hind boot he had removed for Lily's RF. Yeah, it's a 0.5W whereas Lily takes a regular 0.5 on that hoof, but I figured with lots of Vetrap we could make it work. (Yup, a roll of Vetrap lives in my saddle bags for precisely this reason.)

Guess what? It actually WORKED! Hellz yeah!

Lily trotted out sound and happy after that.

It was in the lower to mid 80's with high humidity (around 75% and no, I am not exaggerating. That morning while still at home the humidity had been 100% per the forecast. 100%!!) but there was a nice cool breeze in the shade and being earlier in the day than last time we rode at Little Bennett, the weather was far more comfortable for both us and the horses. We kept a close eye on the girls but both were happy and forward, and despite plenty of water crossings, both barely drank on trail. I'm still not sure what was up with that, but neither was worse for the wear so it's all good.

We pretty much did a sustained trot for most of the ride, alternating leading so each horse was in front for about 50% of the 13.5 miles. Gracie's conditioning and fitness shone throughout: when Lily led, she would be right behind Lily's butt, keeping up the pace. When Lily started lagging a bit, I'd have Charles pass us while both horses were still trotting and Gracie would basically leave us in the dust, which would motivate Lily to pick up the pace. Gracie's medium trot and pace/rack are both 7 mph. Lily's medium trot is right at 6 mph. She can go up to 10 mph at the trot but she can't sustain that for mile after mile in non-competitive scenarios. We had some lovely moments on double-track trail where Gracie was doing her most collected canter while Lily ramped it up to her 10 mph trot so both horses were side-by-side despite being at different gaits. During one instance on double-track where Lily was trotting and Gracie was gaiting next to her, Charles reached out and grabbed my hand and we went on down the trail in this manner, laughing. Both mares flicked an ear back simultaneously like, "What the hell are these two doing?" but they kept on keeping on, side by side.

 My favorite trail was the one where we encountered this river crossing:

It ultimately dead-ended on the road and we had to backtrack, but it was beautiful single track trail through the woods, and both mares finally drank well when we crossed the river again on our way back.

Not all of it was trotting, though. The girls had plenty of walk breaks, such as this one where Lily was leading:

It is harder than you would think to integrate the movement of the horse's walk to this kind of dancing...

And for those who don't like to look at videos, here are photos. I was engrossed and had no idea Charles was getting video/photos until he told me, "Don't stop!":

Yes, I was dancing. I blasted Pandora throughout this entire ride and during this section it played Dutty Love, which is one of my favorite Puerto Rican songs EVER, as I've said before on the blog. Here is the video with lyrics in case anyone really wants to listen to it:

I've walked into work dancing because the song was played on Pandora on the way in...

This is the official video. 
The song was a huge hit in South FL in 2012, so it is appropriate that the video includes so many clips of Miami (among other places). Why do I love this song? Because of the music and the lyrics: it's a love story about two people that had bad luck with past relationships and how they are wondering if they should trust one another, as they tell the other their stories. Also, because of the name. You see, when this song became a hit, our hospital mascot at the time was a mostly-white Pittie named Dotty who looked a lot like Dom's Herbie. She was a rescued bait dog (as in, one of the submissive dogs used for training fighting dogs. She came to us with a crushed front leg from a bite wound and a whole bunch of trust issues towards both people and dogs.) And once Dotty learned to trust, she began to dance: she had this little happy dance that she did when she saw the people she liked, and I was among those people she danced for. "Dotty" sounds similar to "Dutty". So I would sing "Dutty Love" to her and we would dance together. It was a pretty awesome spectacle that more than a few people were witness to. 

This is Dotty.
Her front leg healed up nicely after 2 surgeries to remove bone fragments.
So it is Dotty's song, but it is also Lily's song because when she came into my life, I was afraid to love another horse again. It is appropriate on many levels. And seriously: how many horses do you know with whom you can drape your reins on the saddle pommel and goof off like that? Lily certainly wasn't one of them up at one point.

She is now.

It was a great ride. Once we had the boot issues figured out, it was all smooth sailing, and Charles had the opportunity of getting a feel for a true race pace. 

We walked the last mile to the trailer, and by the time we dismounted both girls were down in both respiratory rates and pulses, and looked bright and perky enough to go out and do it all over again. (We didn't.) 

Lily's boots at the end of this ride. This is what worked. Go figure.
Lily refused her mash at the trailer again but was all about her hay, so hay she received. Gracie ate another mash. We untacked, sponged them off, had snacks ourselves while putting stuff away to give the horses an opportunity to eat well, then loaded them up for the short drive home.

We offered water immediately upon arrival but only Gracie drank. They each ate hay while the other received a bubble bath. I took Lily to the field waterer 2 more times during this process and she finally did drink deeply. Again, she never appeared dehydrated or even tired but I was being neurotic. She did get a double-dose of Perform n' Win via syringe afterwards.

Such a beefcake now!
I think the added protein in Lily's diet (a few weeks ago I started her on the Triple Crown 30% supplement) is doing the trick. What do you think? :)

We thanked the girls for their hard work and released them back with their herd.


  1. I think hoof boots can be a blessing, or they can be a royal pain in the you-know-what. I used to have a set for Griffin in his younger years, when we could still ride trails. His Natural hoof trimmer at the time sold them to be slightly used (which I got a good deal on them). I don't remember the brand, but they weren't one of the more common ones... They worked really well on Griffin's racehorse feet (long toes & almost NO heels), but BOY where they a struggle to get on, especially when we were getting close to the next trim!! We used those things for about 3 years until he snagged part of one on some sticky brush and I had to break it apart to get it off. After that, I just rode in soft, Sandy spots to avoid having to boot him at all. I understand that's not on option with an endurance horse, but I just wanted to say--I feel your frustration!!.
    On the other hand, beautiful trails, your best man along, good horses, and good music.....what more could anyone ask for!!?? ;-)

    1. Welcome to the blog Karol!
      Sounds like you were using Gloves! ;) They can certainly be tough to get on and off towards the end of a trim cycle.
      And yes: it was an excellent ride overall! :D

  2. It is great that you have two horses that not only get along so well but also pace together. Having one horse always falling behind or having to hold back the other can get old fast. Your trails are lovely and this is the absolutely best time of year to be on them.

    1. Pacing together is more or less: Gracie has the potential to be a FAR faster mover than Lily, but it is in the best interest of her longevity to keep to a more moderate pace as much as possible. So we haven't really let her realize exactly how fast she can go, other than on the occasional hill gallop. It's nice to be able to swap who's leading whenever we want though: neither one minds being passed by the other, even at speed, and it always serves as motivation if the second horse is lagging a bit. It's Lily that binds them together: she is such a sweet, horse-loving mare. She'll do just about anything to get along with another horse she likes and having them spend so much time together of course has meant that she has taken a shine to Gracie. They used to squabble all the time prior to Gracie becoming ours. (Gracie was a mondo brat in the herd initially, pushy with both horses and people!) I swear the day I signed the bill of sale, their attitudes towards one another changed. It was like they knew. So bizarre, but in the best way possible!

  3. Sounds like a great ride!:) And I can't believe how you weren't cussing up a storm because of the boots. If I have to get off one time to deal with something, I get frustrated! You have the patience of a saint:)

    1. Oh I was SO cursing...hahahaha...It was good practice for Charles though: he caught my boot issues before I did each time. That was a first for him!

      I gave myself permission to stop the GPS every time we had boot issues, which did take away some of the boot anxiety. Overall, it would have only been an additional 20 minutes to our time, which is not bad AT ALL, considering I had to dismount 8 times to fix boots and Charles had to stop 3 times to fix his.

      If we ever go back to 50s, Lily is either getting shod in front or we're doing glue-ons all around. I can't even...

  4. I love the dancing video.

    Send me the gloves and J and I will get the gaiters off them. I'm becoming quite the expert at undoing locktite and getting the damn things off.

    1. Gloves sent today! Expect 3 boots. One of them only has one screw left, but it ended up stripped in the attempt to remove it. ARRGH...

      THANK YOU so much Karen!! <3

    2. You've got an easyboot best friend and a renegade best friend. Boot fixing team at your disposal.

    3. You've got an easyboot best friend and a renegade best friend. Boot fixing team at your disposal.

  5. Replies
    1. :D And to think this mare used to spook and leap forward anytime I waved an arm in the air when in the saddle!

  6. looks like a gorgeous and fun ride! glad you were able to figure out the boot situation too

  7. Sounds like a fun ride! My ex is hispanic, so I may be one of your few readers who knows who Don Omar (and what Reggaeton) is lol. Btw are you planning at being at any of the OD rides coming up in a couple weeks? Justice and I *might* be riding drag (if the stars align and my truck gets fixed lol). Maybe we'll see you there?

    1. LOVED learning this about you re: reggaeton & Don Omar! Hahaha I used to HATE reggaeton with a vengeance while living on the island, but once outside of it I started missing the music. In FL we'd still hear it quite often, which is when I started listening to Don Omar and Daddy Yankee because their music has changed SO much from what it used to be! Reggaeton up here in MD is a rarity though. I tend to listen to it during the cold winter months because I associate it so strongly with the warmth of the island.

      If the stars align for us, we are planning on drag riding at Championships too! Not sure which day yet, but we should be there if everything works out. :D

    2. Haha well my ex was all about Bachata but his brothers used to listen to Reggaeton so that is how I was introduced to it. I tended to lean more toward Nicky Jam and Wisin y Yandel at the time....but I recently heard Don Omar's Pura Vida and saved it on Spotify lol.

      I actually just heard back from the drag ride coordinater today (because I tracked her down lol). As things stand now we'll be drag riding the 2nd loop on Thursday. Maybe we'll run into you! :-)

    3. We'll be arriving on Thursday, hopefully around noon, if all continues to go well and the weather cooperates like the forecast is currently saying. I hope to see you in ride camp! :D

  8. Sounds like a fantastic trail ride :) Nice dancing and Charles looks like quite a natural in the saddle!

  9. Welcome to my world of in the saddle shenanigans lolololol. Also, I don't know how you continue to keep patience with boots that behave like that. Omg death.

    1. I *may* have figured out our boot issues with the Rennies and Vipers thanks to Ashley. Now if only the weather would cooperate so I could actually test them. *sigh*