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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I really should have a check list

I'm officially done with another block as of this morning and am starting a new one (nutrition and toxicology) this afternoon.  Thus, a blog post.

On Monday I had a ride scheduled with a boot client whose boots kept coming off at the canter.  The idea was that we would ride together on the trail and I would watch them to get an idea of what was happening. 

Everything went well.  I killed wasp nests, cleaned out my trailer, loaded Farley (thank goodness she still remembers how to load in a trailer and hasn't regressed to naughtiness of when I first got her with all this time off),  was only 15 minutes late, and managed to find a place to park the trailer.  (BTW - the trick of making up a really wet, elyte rich mash for the horse to drink/eat in the trailer really works!).  M* was all saddled up and ready to go.  I made a few boot modifications and went up to get Farley.  Whoo hoo!!!!!! 

Until I realized that I was missing a critical piece of equipment.

Umm...that would be my saddle. 

I had just picked up the trailer from my parents that morning and in the hustle and bustle of trying to get it cleaned out and stuff transferred around, the saddle never made it out of the trunk of my mobile tack corolla.


No spare available either. 

I took a deep breath and decided to do this thing bareback. 

I put on my helmet, and took off my expensive (gifted) sunglasses.  Knowing me, I'd fall off and break them in half.  I also at the last minute remembered to take off my Crocs and put on "real shoes" for this deal.  I was a bit rattled I suppose.  :)

I reminded myself that Farley had only bucked me off once --> during a jump lesson. 

I briefly regretted my choice of riding tights that were very thin cotton things, and I won't even TMI my readers with my even more regrettable choice of underwear.  Let's just say that it wasn't exactly bareback riding attire.  

I ignored the fact that I haven't done any real bareback work since before her injury almost 18 months ago.  And since I have cantered her exactly once undersaddle since the injury, it goes without saying that I wasnt all that confident that I could stay on bareback through anything but a jog at this point.

I also decided to ignore the fact she hasn't exactly been an angel on the majority of the trail rides. 

And that there are lots of nice pointy rocks on this trail.  Which alternate with hardpacked gravel roads. 

So off we went. 

At one point I suggested that I ride up ahead and then stop and have M* canter towards me so I could watch the boots, but for some reason, instead of actually putting this very sensible plan into action, I found myself looking at a stretch of gravel road and actually saying the words "let's canter". 

And Canter we did. 

I was even able to look behind me and down to watch my clients boots (BTW --> issue resolved, they stay on beautifully now). 

Was it the most graceful ride I've ever had?  No.  Did I have one hand wrapped in mane with my bicep fully engaged, sucking me against that wither?  Absolutely.  Did my butt stay on that mare through walk/trot/canter/hand gallop?  Yep.  Even through spooks from random objects at a canter?  Yep.  Did I even trot and canter some single track?  Yep. 

In short, I did a conditioning ride on the trails bareback. 

I will say that by keeping one hand in the mane, I sacrificed some control over speed and and direction.  As good as Farley has gotten at one handed reining, I'm just not as effective at speed when telling her in no uncertain terms we are NOT going to jump that puddle and she CANNOT do something nasty to the mare next to us.  But since I didn't die (or fall off) it was probably worth it :).

I'm so proud of us both.  That partnership that was built over many miles is still there.  My fat a$$ (and yes it is --> that's what sitting here and not studying will do to you) still knows how to sit deep and go.  And that amazing thing was I wasn't even sore the next day --> a bit of pressure soreness in ummm...sensitive areas....but no real muscle pain from gripping.  Which means I was actually riding more or less correctly!!!!!  Theoritically.....if I get a girth gall and still have 10 miles to go at an endurance ride, I could have a glass of wine, slip off her saddle and still make it.  Realistically I should take ibprophen instead and jog it!  But I'm just sayin'

Even more exciting -->  Farley's feet are OMG so good right now.  She was trimmed that morning and I mentioned to the trimmer that she is so sound at a trot over gravel.  It's amazing.  At Oroville (where I rode), I got confirmation of that --> not one sore step at any speed, over gravel roads.  Later on the single track we had big 'ole rocks of all sizes and she didn't even hesitate.  After the ride there wasn't one split, crack, or chip.  It was absolutely freakin' amazing.  I've vaccinated less in the last 18 months than I ever have because I haven't traveled anywhere, and I think that was a HUGE part of it.  There's no other explanation.  I've ridden her less, she's just come out of winter/wet weather.  The only good things have been a decrease in vaccine and wormer frequency and very consistent trimmer that isn't me.  She's due for her vaccines and a worming and truthfully I'm a bit nervous about it.  Will I lose her awesome feet?  Obviously a dead horse does me no good and being a responsible boarder means that I WILL vaccinate and worm, but I'll be doing what I can to minimize the impact. 

A note to all horse professionals --> Cookies work.  

Farley, although pocket sized is not a pocket pony.  She doesn't introduce herself and can be a bit standoffish to people.  Although I feed her by hand a lot and we've shared more than a handful of apples and granola bars, she doesn't nuzzle for treats. 

My trimmer makes a point of feeding cookies to her when the visit is done.  I've thought it was a nice gesture, and Farley likes cookies so I've always given permission.  I think the trimmer has trimmed Farley 3 or 4 times?  At the end of this visit (I think visit number 4) she was actively going past my shoulder to go up to him and mug him for cookies.  At first I couldn't figure out what she was doing...but apparently she has figured out that this guy that she sees every 5-6 weeks gives her 2 or 3 cookies at the end.  Horses are way more smart and have better memories than I give them credit for.  Who would have thought that a handful of cookies over the span of 5 months could have made such a difference in her attitude towards this one person?  As a vet I'll definitely be asking my clients if I can feed a cookie or two after the visit.  If I practice equine vetmed.  Which I'm definitely NOT doing.  I swear. 


  1. Mel, can you email me on what boot mods you did that ended up working?

    You are so much braver than I am for riding bareback. Mimi has a distinct lack of mane and withers to help me hang on.

    1. I emailed you --> basically a simple captivator replacement because of the contracted heels. I also think the boots tend to break in over the first 10 miles or so and I find that my very rare boot failures come in that first 10 miles if they are going to come at all....but I have not actual hard evidence to substantiate this.

  2. Sounds like an all the way around success :-) Except - for forgetting the saddle! :-) Lucky for you - you weren't heading out for a 50!

  3. You had a good excuse for forgetting, you've been way too busy! But good job on heading out anyway! I do plenty of bareback rides, but they're 1/2 hour jaunts through the forest, 3-4 miles at best. I actually PREFER singe track, less places for horse to be silly, he stays more focused than on open roads. But isn't it nice to know you've still got it. You and Farley and quite a team.

    (I also wouldn't mind a whole post on different boot mods that have worked for you and your clients, since I'm constantly tinkering)

  4. I totally agree with you on the single track thing!!!!! My biggest nightmare is an open road and speed on an unfamiliar horse. I'm much more daring on single track.

    Irish horse -> I actually have a suggestion for you too on the boots! I'll email you......

  5. Hey, don't email, post! Share it with people!

    I am SO impressed with the bareback cantering! You're way brave. You're a way good rider. You have a great horse. :D

    1. yeah...more of the great horse, less of the brave rider :). I'm a control freak AND a scaredy cat. Who happens to like the adrenaline WHILE it's happening and AFTER it happens but does the whole "oh no oh no oh no oh no" thing leading up to the event.

  6. Wow, I haven't ridden bareback since I was about 15 years old! You are brave.

    And, you get my vote for funny blogger phrase of the week with, " even more regretable choice of underwear." hee hee.

    1. LOL! We really should have a funny phrase comment. Funder's washoe ride recap was chock full of things that made me giggle. Outloud. In class.

  7. OK- secret weapon for this horse/boot was to give the boots about 10 miles of riding to break them in, (which actually may have solved the problem since they stopped coming off) and then put a captivator on that was 1 size smaller than the boot, which was Renegade's suggestion since I mentioned that the horse had heels that were contracted. It totally worked!!!!!!! For those of you looking for awesome Renegade fitting tips, I HIGHLY recommend joining the facebook page. Kirt and Ashley and the rest regularly get on there and give REALLY good commentary on the products.

    1. Interesting.

      Also, I already "like" Renegades, but the posts never show up in my news feed. Weird. I just doublechecked my settings, too.

    2. I have to actually go to the page to see the new posts, I don't get emailed either, but it's probably a settings issue. I get a ton from Facebook because of school so try to minimize where I can.

  8. Id like to invite everyone to a post I've just published honoring the TV show "Big Valley", and also actor Peter Breck. Included with this post are 2 personal recipes that was sent to me by Peters wife Diane, so please stop by and say hello and share your memories of this classic TV show. Richard

  9. I loved the post! Obviously you inherited the tunnel vision gene from me. Your ma has to constantly remind me that continuing a course of action in the face of all obstacles is not necessarily smart or a virtue ('though it is useful and makes a good story at times!)

    The only reason I feed cookies is to get conditioned responses; rarely ever to get "be friendly". I cookie after vets, worming, and after haltering. I am sure that is the reason I generally don't have to chase horses, and have them meet me at the gate.


  10. Bareback, it is to laugh! Clearly, Farley has withers, and not a dorsal fin like Fiddle.

    Also, I'm a weenie, and haven't ridden bareback in centuries, except at a walk. I know. I know.

    Brave you!


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