“Ah, this is the life, it feels so good to be on the road again.” she sighed as she sat typing up a blog post while sitting on a picnic bench drinking a Barq’s root beer in the gracious shade of Leedy Park in Ankneytown, Ohio. The ponies graze happily and the neighbors are friendly and there’s an outhouse, what more could a Long Rider desire on a 70*F day off following four good days of riding? Try fruit and venison bologna and watermelon moonshine! (I’m not even kidding about the watermelon moonshine – it’s bright pink and smells like something you’d bathe in!) I slept like a baby in my hammock last night, swaddled in wool horse blankets since the nights are on the verge of chilly and tonight some local horsewomen are taking me out for Pizza! So spoiled! ;-P
The new Renegade Hoof Boots caught up with me on Monday evening after riding two shortish days with no packs on Finehorn. The original style arrived for Jesse James and Saint Finehorn is now stylin’ the new Vipers – all in Neon Orange which I somehow thought might not match the ponies quite so well as the Arizona Copper, but which they seem to really want to show off! I learned Tuesday that if we want to make good time we wear the boots and send the packs via vehicle – both because the ponies step out briskly, but also we don’t get stopped nearly so often by people wanting to know what’s going on. I might look eccentric, but not such an anachronism. I’m really impressed with the new Viper design. The V in the front means that they snug down closer to the hoof wall, the closed heel cup in the back keeps out dirt and detritus and on the second morning Finehorn was helping me put them on, having her next hoof ready and figuring out a maneuver which slides her heel neatly into the cup – clever pony! We’d had some troubles back in the desert when she wore them through some deep sand and her heel got rubbed (sandpaper on the inside – ouch!) and until now she’s preferred to go barefoot – I wasn’t expecting such a radical change in attitude!
I saw photos on the fb page of an endurance rider (which I now can’t find to link to) showing the comparative amount of wear to the bottoms of her boots: same ride, same horse, last year’s originals versus this year’s Vipers – and while the originals looked a little chewed, the Vipers looked pretty much new! The only way to get the Vipers now is to call on the ‘phone and ask – they’re measured in millimeters (same two measurements needed as for the originals) – they come in 5 colors and the folks at Renegade are super helpful and informative on the ‘phone. Wednesday we did a 12 mile day fully packed with boots and the ponies both did really well, no rub marks from the new boots and making a solid 3mph over roads we would have been avoiding if we were barefoot (but were perfect riding roads otherwise). Huge thank you to Renegade for sending the boots – and Kudos for making improvements on an already great hoof boot!
Just because I’m kind of a dork and find these things fascinating, I wanted to share a couple of close-ups of why all roads are not created equal in terms of a ponies hoof. As we learned in Tennessee, certain roads that looks really nice and smooth at a distance are actually 4 grit sandpaper under hoof – zillions of sharp little rocks steamrollered into tar is not quite as bad as gravel but certainly much worse than actual cement.
I am riding through primarily corn and soy beans. I find myself singing as I ride, “oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day… ” I think the lack of oppressive heat is doing us all good – tho the floods in this area have been mighty. Whole fields of corn have been drowned and the other day in the aftermath of a downpour the soybeans were in standing water several inches deep. The word supersaturated comes to mind.