Christine & Tomas on Church Road
Thursday dawned clear & brisk and looked like it would develop into a gorgeous day for a training ride. I made plans for Christine & Tomas to do a road ride with us, and despite the change in the weather for the worse, we mounted up & headed out. The winds had picked up to about 15 - 20 mph sustained with gusts to 30 mph.
I outfitted Red in boots all around. Historically, he has done very well in boots. Today he wore an Easyboot Bare on his left front but an Easyboot Epic on his right front. His right front has markedly widened over the winter (I don't know why!) and the Epic is the only boot I have right now that fits it. And, I only have 1 Epic left, so I had to use a dissimilar pair for the left front. This probably isn't an ideal situation - the sole on the Bare is a bit thicker than the sole of the Epic, and they have a different tread. Also, I suspect they may be a different weight. He wore the Easyboot Gloves on his hinds.
Right front Epic and left front Bare
Glove on a hind - I don't think they actually fit him all that well but I didn't have any problem with them.
We set off down Pioneer Road, happily trotting along with both horses relaxed. The wind made conversing difficult, as we could barely hear each other even shouting. The horses seemed a little extra spooky, but nothing too terrible. We made the turn at the "sheep hill," and from then on both horses were a handful. We continued down the minimum maintenance part of Church, seeing a small painted turtle but thankfully no ducks bursting out of the bog.
One of several bogs along Church Road.
Red looking for the bogey man in the woods.
The prettiest part of Church Road.
Christine & Tomas nearing the turn-around spot.
I heard lots of laughter behind me as Chris watched me & Red careening back & forth down the road and shying repeatedly with big lurches to the side. She was having pretty much the same ride, but I think got a split-second warning by seeing me & Red do it first. I'm sure it was quite amusing.
We stopped for a little grazing & so I could check boots at the 3 1/2 mile mark, our turnaround at the busy road. All the boots seemed to be performing just fine, with no rubs from the gaiters. I did have to tighten the gaiters which were new & not broken-in yet, but the old Epic with the broken-in gaiter didn't need any adjustment. Red enjoyed a few nibbles, but Tomas was too excited to eat. This is a perfect example of the difference between an experienced trail/endurance horse (eat at every opportunity) and an inexperienced one.
Red chowing down.
The return trip was even more "exciting" than the outward trip, and we did not win all the arguments with our horses! There were a few moments of unplanned galloping (WHEE!), which didn't result in any mishaps and so are now thought of as very fun. I'm not sure they were quite so fun at the time (although being on Red, my only concern was when I would be able to stop him and if he would spook at a full gallop, I would come off for sure - he is not a bucker). Tomas has bucked on a semi-regular basis, so Christine was thrilled that he didn't.
We made it home, although walked more of it than we intended due to the extreme spookiness of both horses. A tree came down in the woods just behind us and we nearly had a second unplanned galloping incident, but were able to get things under control. Given the challenging wind conditions, both horses did very well. My favorite comment of the day was Christine's, when a plastic bag billowed up out of the ditch and went flying down the road, bringing both horses to a quivering stand-still - "All we need now is a clown on fire riding a unicycle."
I was relatively pleased with the boot performance, but I am doubtful about those Gloves staying on Red's hinds in any sort of deeper footing. The road isn't much of a testing ground for boots, but it does give me an idea about rubbing and gait changes, etc. I am going to look into getting a boot accessory called a "power strap" for the Gloves, which tightens up the boot in the front just a little. They also come in pretty colors, so I can both match my tack and hopefully be able to find them if they come off!
I have not been able to find my reins with the rein stops & rings permanently placed, to use with my running martingale, and so have been riding without the martingale this spring. It's been ok so far, but really wished I'd had it on for this ride! (After searching all my horse stuff in both barns, I finally found those reins at the bottom of a bag in my bedroom!)