I had resorted to riding in my ariat terrains again, which I kept unlaced so my foot didn't feel so confined, however with the ride and tie event looming, I needed to give another thought to my footwear.
I am no longer comfortable running, walking, or even just being in regular shoes any more. I've had to make some compromises based on my pocket book and I save my Run-A-Mocs for running and hiking and have several leather shoes that are "close enough" to a flat sole with minimal support that I wear for my every day activities. However, none of these options were going to cut it for the ride and tie.
About a year ago I had tried on a pair of Merrial Gloves at REI as a possible every day barefoot shoe and found it to be too narrow for my foot, and the heel platform to be too curved and unstable, which was unsettling after being in the moccasins. However, I returned with my mom last week to try them again and see if they would work. Since I've tried so many shoes that I had hoped would work in and out of the saddle that didn't live up to my expectations, I decided to go to REI so that I could return them after using them if they didn't.
To my great delight not only was the rep for Merrial at REI, they just came out with a new model of their barefoot line that seemed to describe my needs perfectly. "For the runner with higher arches, who needs a wider toe box and a wider, more stable heel." Hallejiah and let the angels sing! AND they came in orange - now my footwear is at least as colorful as Farley's!
I've done a 10 mile mixed road and trail long run in them, and put in some saddle time - a couple hours over 2 rides. They perform PERFECTLY. Oh sure, I have a couple complaints - I wish they didn't have arch support at all. It gave me blisters on my first run and is really quite unnecessary in my opinion (or at least for my biomechanics). I no longer think that there is any "breaking in" of shoes - only the shoes breaking in your feet by creating calluses etc. to compensate for the material and seams and folds in close contact to your foot. By running my the very loose fitting moccasins over the last 1 1/2 years, I've lost all that and I've found I've become hypersensitive about how and what is on my feet. BUT, compared to how regular shoes fit and feel, these are like heaven!
For my every day running on the road, I still grab my runamocs, however I've worn through the sole in some spots and rocks and gravel easily get inside the moccasin, so I'll use these shoes for any trail running.
As they are equally as comfortable as any of my riding shoes and more so, so I've been using them as my every day riding shoe, as I don't think it will put any excessive wear and tear on them.
Bottom Line: if you love barefoot, but are having a hard time finding a shoe that will do both the stirrup and the trail, check out the Merrial line.
BTW - you, My Dear Reader, were probably checking out my very very pretty tights in the above picture. They are tights I purchased from the tights lady at the AERC convention.
And speaking of gear and shoes and boots.....you know that saying about the cobbler's kids? Apparently it applies to boot dealers as well. Farley has the oldest, trashiest boots you've ever seen. I can't actually get them on any more, so I put them half way on, get on and trot for about a mile, which pushes the boots into place, and then I dismount and put the straps on (which are pitiful excuses for straps......). They've never come off, still perform wonderfully, and so this starving vet student hasn't been able to justify getting a new pair.
I saw Ashely from Go Pony Blog, and from Renegade and she reminded me that as a dealer they could probably help me out on that front.......I nodded enthusiastically.....and then she asked me about sizing. I rattled off what I had, but mentioned that the hinds sometimes came off when riding parts of the Tevis trail - specifically where there was a water crossing and then a very steep uphill with steps. We had JUST finished talking about how captivator size can affect boot retention and I must confess --> Not only were my boots ancient and worn out, I wasn't evaluating fit and how it might change over time. Farley's feet have almost CERTAINLY changed shape after 2 years.....especially in how wide/uncontracted her heels are. Ashely asked me if Farley had wide heels and I muttered a vague "I dunno". When I looked at her feet this morning after our ride I could have hit myself upside her head. It's OBVIOUS she needs a bigger captivator in the back. She has some of the widest heels on a horse I've seen to date. Back AND front, but especially the hinds.
Of course, I'm only now worrying about boots since I'm looking at an LD in a month or two, and I vaccinated and wormed in the last 2 months.
I haven't been concerned about hoof protection because I wasn't riding, and Farley was so sound over all terrain that we were able to canter over gravel roads with no issues at all. I don't boot a horse that doesn't need booting.
I put off worming and vaccinating as long as I could because I had a feeling I was going to see some effects and sure enough - even with spaced out minimal vaccinations and worming she's tender over gravel now. Boo hoo hoo. :(
Of course worming and vaccinating is the right thing to do when you board your horse and have plans to travel and do rides, but it still sucks sucks sucks to know that it has a negative impact on your horse, even with the overwhelming positive benefits.
Next time I'm going to try buting the day before, of, and after the vaccination/worming and see if that helps. Another rider I know, who shall remain nameless because I don't want to get anyone in trouble, has her vet give her horse IV Banamine with the vaccinations and says that she thinks it helps.
I suppose I have rambled enough and could start the mountains of assigned reading that I have for school. No, the term doesn't start for 2 weeks, but apparently some of the professors are concerned that we might be getting bored and need a bit of cardiology during summer break to perk us up.