It's officially official - Rhio and I finally earned a UMECRA jacket. We were 5th place in our region for the 2012 endurance season, so earned a Top 10 jacket. These babies are coveted by one and all in the UMECRA family, and can't be bought for any price. It reminds me a lot of my feelings about the beautiful wool letter jackets the upperclassmen wore when I was a freshman in high school. It took me two years to earn a letter jacket and I still remember the pride swelling up the first day I wore mine to school. By contrast, it took me 8 years to earn a UMECRA jacket, but I still feel the pride swelling up. Of course, very few people in the general population will know its significance, but it matters not, because I know how hard Rhio and I worked to get it.
I wasn't able to attend the awards banquet and receive my jacket in person, but thanks to some good friends picking it up for me, I was able to take ownership this past weekend. (No, I didn't wear it to bed...but only because I like to sleep on my stomach and the zipper would bug me!) Yesterday I went to ride (for the first time since November 17) and of course wore the jacket. Rhio wanted to wear it too, so I let him model it as a rump rug. It does have both our names on it, after all!
Speaking of riding, the psychological effects of not riding have been getting us both down. It has been a very icy winter (from warm temps and rain) followed by frigid temps and dangerous windchills - not a likely combination for outdoor recreation on horseback. Yesterday was near freezing, no wind, and with some fresh snow to cover up the worst of the ice, I thought it was worth a try to venture out.
To help ensure some measure of success, I finally got around to installing my EasyBoot Quick Studs into an old pair of hoof boots. There was a bit of a learning curve to getting them installed (I might rename them "Moderately Quick" Studs,) but I did get to play with a drill in order to accomplish the task. I decided on 6 studs per boot (options are from 4 to 10!), and have to report very good results. They did not look as pretty as the picture when I had them all in, but they seemed to work very well.
|holes drilled for studs|
Rhio was initially hesitant to walk out - I think he knew there was ice beneath the snow in spots - but it didn't take him long to figure out he actually had traction. I could feel his confidence in the footing grow. I was only using front boots, and I would like to put studs in a pair of hinds as well, as we did have some slipping in the bare hooves (but nothing major.) We were able to walk along the sides of the gravel roads that are relatively unused, and get up the big hill on our trail. I did not attempt the well-traveled gravel roads, as the traffic seems to fuse the ice/snow into a solid, unyielding mass. Perhaps on a sunny day, with the top layers getting a bit tacky, we will venture a bit further from home. I dismounted for the return trip down the hill, but he actually handled sliding down it better than I did and I think with studs in hind boots would have been completely fine. The biggest problem I had was Rhio feeling so confident in his footing, and so eager to GO!, that we had a few discussions about keeping our speed to a walk. The ride was nothing to write home about, in terms of training/conditioning/mileage, but it was a balm to both our souls and a great trial of the studs.
|post-ride - all studs are present and accounted for, and did their jobs well|