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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lost Boot #1

****Some of the posts you will read in the next couple of days were composed during the picture challenge, so I've waited to post them.  Please enjoy!

I'll try to do a post like this anytime I have a boot failure.

Last Saturday (10/24/09) I took Farley to Del Valle and did a 22 mile ride.  For some reason the Livermore Del Valle Endurance ride wasn't held this year, but I celebrated autumn just the same by riding some of the same trails as Farley and my first LD there last year.

This was to be the first real test for Farley in all four renegade boots. 

I was determined not to touch them for the entire ride, just to see how they held up.

We waded down a streambed on the way to the trail.  Over HUGE rocks, and then through water that came almost to her belly for ~1/4 mile.  What FUN!  Farley never even hesitated, just went right in, sometimes stopping to evaluate the rocks below the surface and plot a course, and then onward! 

I've never been totally confident that Farley would go through anything I pointed her at.  Minx yes, but Farley - she can get a bit sticky.  At the Tevis I was a bit worried about the river crossing.  Not that she wouldn't eventually do it, but I didn't want her to stress about it and fight me and use up energy.  Yes, there was an easier way to the trail, but sometimes I like going the difficult way, just as a learning experience.  Farley is finally starting to trust me!
End of Digression

The boots never budged in the water wading (can't call it a crossing since we weren't crossing...).  And some of those rocks were certainly capable of wrenching a boot off!

We went up hills, and down hills, mostly at a trot - but I admit we did show off for a group of boy scouts - galloping full speed up the hill.  The boots never budged.

I finally stopped checking my boots every 30 seconds. 

Farley had been exceptionally good about bikes.  We had progressed to calmly walking by them as they rode past.  I decided that for the next bike, I would ignore it and ask her to continue trotting.

That went well (sarcasm).

As the bike passed her flank, Farley decided that the best evasive maneuver involved flinging herself against the cut bank like a maniac, coming very close to falling as she scrabbled and scrambled, finally bolting out of the cut bank like her ass was on fire.  I calmly asked her trot on like nothing happened.  That was very closely followed by spurts of bolting and flinging her self around. 

I stopped her and dismounted.  In the fray, her RH boot had come off and was attached to her pastern by the pastern strap.  Farley was NOT happy about this.  She stood still, blowing hard as I unfastened the strap (thank goodness for velcro). 

I inspected the boot - the boot was not damaged and all the straps were in place.  She must has wrenched the boot off with the other hind foot while in the bank. 

I put the boot back on, let a little boy pet Farley and then off we went again. 

Boot loss analysis
This was probably the most extreme spook I've EVER had Farley do.  I think it was a testament to the boot that it survived that undamaged.  I'm thankful for how quickly and easily the pastern unfasten.  I'm thankful there isn't any outer hardware on the boot that can slice open horse skin.  I'm thankful that the pastern strap stayed on and I didn't have to go look for the boot. 

What happened was so extreme, so out of the ordinary, I'm not holding the episode against the boots in any way.  In fact, having a boot come off was the LEAST of my problems as I thought she was going down with me 3 or 4 times in the bank.  I think the chances of this kind of incident happening on a ride, or even again is fairly slim as this was NOT normal behavior for Farley.  However, until I have more miles in the boots I will NOT be riding a trail like Tevis in them, I don't want to the boot to slip off for some reason, be around the pastern, and have her react like she did on Saturday on a single track drop off. 

Other Notes (more on Dressage and trail riding)
I noticed some more ways Dressage has changed my trail riding.

I don't really get sore after rides anymore.  Even after the Tevis, I didn't feel sore.

I was so sore after that 22 mile ride, I was ready to plop my butt in the ice cold river and take and ice bath.  What a difference when you are riding correctly!  I was using muscles that I didn't use before!  50 miles in 2 weeks should be interesting....If my riding has changed enough that I'm getting sore, I hope that means that my riding has changed enough that my horse is noticing the difference and that it will make a difference in terms of fatigue on the longer rides. 

My focus is so much better now.  I don't know how to explain it.  Here was the situation.  Last week I was riding the last stretch to the stable, coming back from the canals.  There's a lot going on - I'm in a narrow corridor lined on one side by fences, corrals, arenas, and scary tarp-covered wagons.  On the other side is trees/large shrubs and then a road with trucks and motorcycles going 50mph.   I was at a trot, focused on the corner where I was going to turn and head into the main gate of the stable.  Farley did something (I can't even remember now) and it didn't even cross my radar.  I was GETTING to that corner at a trot and I made the correction necessary, never once wavering from my goal. 

Before I would have been focused, but it would have only been ~50% of my attention.  The other 50% would have been focused on everything around me, ready to correct or deal with stuff.  Now, 99% of my attention is on the goal/task and I only shift enough attention to take care of something when it arrives, then back to the task.  Even when riding polo, I didn't have the kind of focus or attention that would allow me to tune out everything around me. 

I think I've developed this because in dressage, especially riding a test - you have a pattern that WILL happen.  Farley is busy throwing all sorts of hissy fits - not being round, breaking gait, counterbending etc. and I don't let it distract me - I have a goal - a circle, a diagonal - whatever.  I make whatever corrections are necessarily, but I don't dwell and I don't let them distract. 

Interesting. (probably more interesting to experience than to read...)


  1. Your comments on focus are interesting. I think that when I rider focuses on the potential 'scaries' and the horse then reacts to them, it is harder to squeeze past that situation, rather than focusing on a tree, or gate, or whatever is ahead and going right on by whatever you are passing. You described it better than I could, but I know what you mean.
    Having that focused energy helps in the arena too, when the horse is excited and amped at the beginning of a ride. I find that I have a better ride if I focus on walking a direct pattern rather than blowing off steam by cantering around. Interesting how a lot of times it is mental with horses rather than physical energy that needs training and exercising.
    PS- glad the boots are working well!

  2. I'll be interested to see if Farley is sore after your 50 miler. After all, you are riding more correctly so the task is easier for her...OTOH, she will be asked to move correctly for the duration as well, and the change might make her tired in a whole new way! I'm eagerly awaiting your report.

    I'm a huge believer in dressage as a cross-sport for endurance, and it's good to see other riders finding how much it helps.

    Best of luck to you both!

  3. It should be interesting. I am NOT asking her to move differently on the trail, I just leave her alone and I'm going to ocntinue to do that during rides. since the dressage training she does seem to be chosing to move off her hindquarters more so yes, I agree it should be interesting!

  4. You were in the zone! Good for you!

  5. When I'm focused I'm a happy rider, when I'm not I become easily tonight. No goal, no focus, just riding to keep her limber, not enough for me. MUST HAVE A PRE-RIDE GOAL.

    Your wild ride sounds like most of my spring and early summer. Glad you came through okay. ~E.G.


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