Monday, February 22, 2016


2 13 (2)I've been so swamped with work and traveling that I haven’t had much time to recap the past few rides but I have a lot to update on!

Starting from the beginning- two weekends ago Quest and I got in a great ride despite negative temperatures and freezing wind chill. Yes, judge away. Everyone said I was crazy and I’d have to agree with them in this case. I don’t know what possessed me to think riding in that weather was a good idea but the sun was out and the trails were calling. It was more of a training ride then a conditioning ride. We got about 6 miles in before I started to REALLY lose feeling in my toes and fingers. Quest had no issues with the cold though- not even a shiver.

Best of all she was SO incredibly sane despite the wind that almost knocked us off the trail a few times and rustled every branch and leaf.  We didn’t do much distance-wise but I think our trust in each other grew in leaps and bounds that ride.

This past weekend I made plans with M, the other boarder at WSS, to ride together on Saturday. When I got to the barn J and B were there as well and tacking up horses for a training ride to pony River, J's newest endurance prospect that she wants to start competing with this year. River is a 9yo Arabian and literally looks like a smaller version of Quest. J sent me a picture of the mare with the message “Remind you of someone??” and I seriously had to do a double-take. Despite her petite size (probably 14.2hh?), River has a ton of energy which probably intimidated her former owner and limited her handling. I met her briefly before she was sent off to the trainer but I remember immediately falling in love. Of course looking like mini-Quest does help, but there was just something about her that I really liked. J commented while we were out riding that they also have very simliar butts lol

Anyways, I didn’t have any specific ride plans in mind asides wanting to test out a pair of Easyboot Gloves that J let me borrow (more on that in a bit) so the 4 of us set off together with 5 horses. Quest led for the majority and the ride was mostly uneventful except for the topping the ridge and mareface getting speedy.

M and I continued on the trail after J and B headed back to the barn. We were barely a minute out when three ladies walked by and asked if they could ride together with us. Introductions were made and it turned out two of the horses were also pulled from the same auction location that I got Quest from. The third horse wasn’t a rescue but he was just was interesting because was a dainty little Arabian gelding named Tru. His owner G has been riding horses since she was young and did the college IHSA thing. She was interested in doing endurance with him so we started really chatting. Tru and Quest were fine together along side by side but about halfway through the ride G decided to take her horse off by himself ahead of Quest.

Well someone got really angsty about that and started doing her canter-jig which I was not okay with at all. To make it worse, one of the ladies behind us decided to canter and looked like she had zero control of her horse. I kept my head though and got us down to a safe paced trot to catch up with the others and resume the walk. M had to get back to the barn and I was more than glad to part ways with them. I like riding with other people if they are respectful and responsible; unfortunately that lady was neither. I confided in J later about the event when we got back to the barn though it was mostly to learn how I could better manage Quest on my end. It wasn't an ideal ride but no one was hurt, I learned new things and best of all, I think we might have a hoof boot solution.

A couple weeks ago, J had the farrier out so I asked if he could check Quest’s feet and trim if needed. I didn’t think she needed a trim and turns out I was right; the farrier said her feet were self-trimming enough and actually on the shorter side after being out 24/7 and then coupled with our Saturday weekend rides.

Since moving us to WSS, I have re-doubled my research and reading efforts about the different hoof boot options so when the time came for me to finally decide which or what to do, I wouldn't be totally clueless. When J suggested that I start at least booting her fronts for the trail, I wasn't too overwhelmed and already decided that I was willing to give both the Easyboot Gloves and Renegades a try and see which worked better.

J had a tub of Gloves in different sizes so I fortunately didn't need the fit kit. M had a set of 4 Renegades for Remy at the barn but taking a quick look, we could tell they were too big for Quest. The only way to try them was to buy them. After a bit of searching online, I managed to find a like-new pair and snagged them at a very good price.

IMG 0415

I was able to try out both kinds of hoof boot this weekend and the verdict? While I loved how easy it was to put on the Renegades and the size and shape were perfect, I didn't have the know-how to adjust them properly. The captivator was first too low then too high on her heels. I managed to get them in between and had her move out at a walk. Not sure if it was Quest's first time with hoof boots on- if it was, she never freaked out or had an issue with them. They stayed on but they just didn't look quite right and I wasn't happy with my on-the-spot adjustments to feel confident about riding with them out on the trail.

So next up were the Easyboot Gloves.

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As suspected, the application was a bit more difficult and I needed a hammer to seat the hoof completely in the boot but I was much happier with the look of these and tried them out both days this past weekend. Looking at the pictures now, I can see a little bit of gaping on the inside left front but the bottom line is they STAYED ON.

The Easyboot Gloves worked out perfectly the entire time despite mud, a creek crossing, and crazy canter-jig moments on Saturday and then even more mud on the trail, long stretches of cantering, and muddy puddles on Sunday. During the ride, I would glance down from time to time to check and each time they were still there. Quest was more prancey-er when moving out with the Gloves on but no changes other than that. Towards the end of the second day with them on, she started to adjust and her trot felt a lot more normal.

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Dark mud on the trail. The boots stayed on though! 
I really do love the Renegades and think they would work out great for us but there are too many parts to adjust and tweak and I don't really feel like messing with them when the Gloves have impressed me so far. I really hope this is the solution! but I've read about enough booting nightmares that I feel it is best to remain cautiously optimistic haha

Now that the fronts have been figured out, next time we'll do the hinds. I have a feeling Quest might be the same size all around since I tried the next size down and couldn't even get them on. At least it'll make buying spares a little easier.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Quality, Not Quantity

Much of my blog focuses on the good because honestly 99% of the time things are good, very good in fact. Quest is smart, athletic, and honest. She is a dream come true for what I could have ever have desired in a distance riding prospect. In our short time together, we’ve had some very crazy adventures already and we are taking steady steps together toward our endurance dreams. 

Physically, she'll be more than fine once we get a few rides under our belt and I learn to manage us.  Mentally, however I think we need to take a step back. 

This past weekend I finally made myself admit that we need to go back to reviewing groundwork before our rides. I have noticed she has been getting increasingly more distracted and paying less attention to me on the ground. And it’s totally my fault. 

Back when I was only 20 minutes away from the barn and could see her every other day of the week, I would begin most of our sessions with a short groundwork review before tacking up to ride. From day 1, Quest was jittery, could not stop her feet from moving and she could get pushy if anxious. A couple months of consistent little groundwork sessions before our rides though, I was able to groom and tack her up ground tied in the arena or turnout pen without ever touching the lead rope.

Her behavior now unfortunately reminds me of that first month we were together. I know it’s not something I intentionally did but I am annoyed at myself for not realizing it sooner.

I have no regrets about moving us to WSS. The mareface is flourishing here and doing very well for her first winter in pasture. 

Snug in her green blanket. Good to see she's figured out herd dynamics  
And the accessibility to miles of decent trails still makes me giddy with pleasure. 

I'll never tire of this view <3
Unfortunately being almost an hour away from the barn has made me feel like I need to capitalize on our time together. Quest, being the saint that she is, has no problem with “hop on and go” and so that’s what we have been doing for the past few months. However this has resulted in me occupying a poor headspace horsemanship-wise whenever we ride. The sense of urgency “need to ride” is even more so now since everyone on the East Coast is starting to leg up for the new season.  

I love to ride. I don’t think that is a bad thing in it of itself. However I shouldn’t look at the number of miles but the quality of the time together. So we will be going back to what has worked for us in the past. We will work on our relationship; she is my partner and she’s worth my time and effort.