Monday, August 13, 2018

Wolcott Mill Metropark Ride

On Saturday Alicia and I made plans to go trail riding. We didn't have much of a goal in mind other than get the horses in shape for the endurance rides we were planning on doing this fall. Plans were equally compounded by Gwyn still not having a shoe on one of her front feet plus the velcro stickers were loose on her feet so I had just pulled it off so the Megasus were out of the question. My farrier is coming Monday and I didn't feel like wasting a velcro thinger for a day. My goal was to go to a place where the footing wouldn't negatively effect Gwyn.

Highlights from my helmet cam

Wolcott Mill seemed good. While it would be fairly boring as it's just farm field edge riding with some woods it's also pretty well groomed as it's one of the few places that's good for people to come and use their carriages. It's nice and wide and mowed. The last time I was there was in 2015. I was hoping it wouldn't be as muddy as last time since we've been lacking some regular rain lately.
Wide, groomed trails

Right away, the horse flies decided to be horrendous. They were the giant ones, big black, the size of a fingernail and not your pinky unless you have humongo hands. They drove Gwyn absolutely mad. They really liked landing on her butt, right in the little dip on her spine where she couldn't reach with her tail. She figured out that if she bucked it would flip her tail up and over to swish at them but honestly I just tried to smack them as much as possible. The fuckers would dodge as soon as they saw my hand.

So this ride was characterized by a TON of bucking and kicking on Gwyn's part, while she was being perfectly behaved. Several times she broke into a trot just to try to escape them. So noted, Gwyn. We will not do Wolcott again in the summer. We'll wait for fall when the bugs are dead. The deer flies were equally bad but not as maddening. Fly spray did nothing.

 The parking is on the north side of 29 mile road but all of the trails are on the south side. So rather than cross a sometimes busy mile road, we go under it!
I was pointing out a deer, this is the view immediately on the other side of the road

Random ridiculous giant rock ditch that we bypassed

Baby deer bounding toward us! Watch the video for a better view

Hello storm clouds
 We started hearing thunder at this point in the ride and shrugged it off. The storm seemed fairly distant.

Alicia and the Storm

You can see the B52 bomber fly

It was right around this time that we saw lightning and suddenly getting back to the trailers was urgent.

Back under 29 Mile Rd

Alicia's reins got stuck when she tried to use them to get rid of a deer fly on his ear. It didn't work, lol

River view

In the woods heading back to parking

Endomondo Stats

Side by side map comparison from 2015 and Saturday. We covered some new ground. This gives me hope for going back for some good conditioning mileage.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.

Gwyn got a bit of a break as I was away on a long weekend in Vegas for a meetup with some people from my online Mom group. We've been friends for almost 7 years now. It was a great trip but I was glad to be home. I got not nearly enough sleep and I'm still recovering three days later, though life hasn't been helping in that regard. Like my flat tire. And the shit hole that is my job.

I will always find the horses

 I'll probably do a whole Vegas write up on my non-horse blog. That's been sadly neglected lately. Same for the farm blog. But there's a shit load to talk about. But really, what this meant was that I needed horse time. In a major way.

You've got more mints, right Mom?
 So last night, after having a minor cry fest at work, and after the kids were in bed I went out to do my barn chores and just... exist with Gwyn. I deep cleaned the stalls (since Eric doesn't if I'm away) and that felt good and periodically called out in the darkness for Gwyn and Saffron. It took a little bit but soon I heard hoof beats and Gwyn came galloping up from the summer pasture back to the barn, ears pricked forward.

They got grain, and then I pulled Gwyn out to give her her final dose of Adequan, which also means I should schedule another chiro to see how her SI is doing since that got majorly adjusted last time. Then, with grooming gloves on I just stood and itched her. She must have been sweaty at some point, since her coat felt like it had a bit of salt crust and was itchy because of it. She's also shedding a bit and I pulled a lot of those short summer hairs to the surface. I was getting mutually groomed very vigorously so I assume it felt good and when she couldn't reach me her lip was stuck out stick and wiggling.

At least my horse offers feedback on my performance.... And appreciates me.

She got mints for being a good girl for the shot. And then I check out her feet. The velcro tape for the Megasus is already partly off, but I'm reserving judgment since I know I didn't exactly follow the instructions for application. But this is good to know that it won't last if you half ass the steps. Her hind feet were starting to pancake so I took a rasp to the trouble spots to try and prevent major chipping. The farrier won't be out until Monday. He was supposed to be out this week but had to reschedule. So she got more mints for being a good girl for my amateur farrier work.

I did end up buying the fly boot things as I suspect that she's stomping herself out of her shoes. So far so good! I dont' see nearly as much stomping out in the pasture. Of course there are now three horse shoes still unaccounted for plus both of the megasus covers. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Megasus and the Moonlight Trail Ride

A few days before the hunter pace, my Megasus Horserunners FINALLY arrived. This was, of course, after I caved and put shoes on Gwyn.  I grumbled to Eric about the irony and the hit to our checkbook when I had to have the shoes replaced days after they were initially put on. They had been holding.

Had been.

A couple days after the hunt pace I went out to feed and Gwyn was once again missing a shoe. I wailed about a bit and gnashed my teeth and finally opened up the horserunners box because dammit I wasn't about to pay YET AGAIN to have the farrier put shoes on when these should do for such a situation. Nor did I want to miss out on a moonlight trail ride in two days and I also did not want Gwyn to be on that ride missing a shoe.

So... the unveiling:

I kickstartered for 2 sets. Apparently I also got the winter version? I don't remember that being an option and I'm a little miffed about it as I would have gotten the summer ones, TBQH

Fancy packaging. Was this the delay?? Who knows.

Like I said, we got the winter edition? They'll have to deal with being used in the summer because I'm not paying again for these fuckers.

They are pretty solid and a garish orange and blue that makes me flash back to grad school at the University of Florida. 

The thickness. Those slots are where the clips that attach to the hoof slide into

All of the additional gear needed to attached these suckers to the hoof
The tiniest nail polish size bottle (with nail polish brush) of solvent I've ever seen. Smells like paint thinner

The covers, more on this in a moment

Nice bright blue

The tapes attach to the hoof and provide one side of the 'velcro' that the clips lock onto

The side clips

So I got to prepping Gwyn's foot for Megasus attachment. First up was cleaning her hoof. They wanted me to bloody buff the hoof but I settled for wire brushing it. I might go find a buffer to sand down her hoof to get better adhesive attachment for future tapes but I'm not displeased.

You start by putting in the front two clips. You mark on the hoof where the center is and line that up, then also mark where the clips are. This is your guide for putting on the tapes.

You can see the nasty crack I've been fighting. Also, there's still nails in her hoof from the shoe. WTF is up with that? I rasped and wire brushed her hoof and then avoided touching it since the instructions say to not have grease of any kind on the foot or it'll ruin the adhesive. You mark around the hoof on the shoe itself.
It looks long in the back, but that's okay, because it pretty much is guaranteed to get removed.
With those markings all set and ready to go, you use the solvent on the hoof and let it dry, which will happen quickly because it's a solvent and pretty much trying to evaporate as soon as it hits air. Then you carefully remove the backing on the tapes and apply them to the hoof, starting at the markings you made from where the front clips land.
Now, I misplaced these on the hoof. They should curl up more and be further from the ground. But again, I'm not too put out by the error and it's working okay for now.

Then I set up the covers, which go on over the tapes.

I put the covers on at night and went back the next day to prep her for my night trail ride. The covers were gone. So much for what I said about them in the video. As of this writing, I have only recovered one cover from my pasture. So that leaves 3 horse shoes and 1 megasus cover unaccounted for.

Friday I also used the jigsaw to cut away the extra shoe. The whole thing is a pretty thick plastic. Gwyn is pretty solidly a perfect fit to this size so I really didn't need to do much adjusting. It also meant that I didn't have to worry about sharp edges. I did use a rasp to take it down a little bit. I did not do the recommended 45 deg angle under the heel as I just didn't have the time. 

Upon retrieving her and inspecting the tapes, the back bit of tapes pulled away from the hoof, but that's also where I wasn't able to really rasp down the hoof and prep it for adhesive. I clipped away what was no longer sticking. Everything else was solidly attached so I went ahead with doing the final clips and adjustments. Then we loaded up for our trail ride!

The previous owners of our house are starting a non-profit designed to help veterans with PTSD and they were hosting a Full Moon Trail ride on the Polly Ann Trail! She needed to get a special permit for the ride as after dark usage is not permitted.
I met Alicia there and it was great. My tail lights were out of battery, which made me sad because that would have helped at some points on the ride as it turned out. Instead I had reflective gear, which was at least beneficial for the road crossings. Alicia forgot her cinch, and ended up riding bareback. Oops...

The following pictures are screen grabs from the go pro.

Just after mounting up, 9pm at the Leonard trail head. Moon has not risen.

Gwyn immediately thought we were going to go fast again. Oops
Crossing Rochester Rd. If you turned right and went a few miles you'd get to my house!

Bareback Alicia

Two happy horses in the lead. 
Gwyn pretty much took off at a swinging walk. She wasn't impeded at all by the Megasus shoe and in fact was moving very confidently. We were leaving the quarter horses in the dust and they had to trot to keep up with us.
This the field where later a fucking truck was off roading at nearly 11pm at night and scared the FUCK out of Gwyn and she went spooking toward this opening only there's a bloody chain across it and thankfully I stopped her in time.
The full moon, also a blood moon, as seen on the go pro, lol
The ride was very eventful. I think Gwyn likely has at least some bit of moonblindness as she got incredibly spooky once it got dark. While she is very much a 'must be leader on the trails' kind of mare, she was much happier after dark following other horses. The final nail in that coffin was when a fucking bicyclist was coming at us. Us humans couldn't see him, he wasn't lit up at all and Gwyn lost her  mind.  Remember, we had a special permit for night use. He should not have been there.

We all may have yelled at him, made him get off the damn bike and talk constantly as we passed him. Gwyn thought she was going to get eaten.

Did I mention that two of the horses were studs? They were decently well behaved until one spooked a little and his bit got caught in his breast collar. He went up and over backwards with his rider - who was not wearing a helmet - and we all freaked out. Old house owner S hopped off immediately to help, her daughter who is like 12, was freaking the fuck out and Alicia just calmly started running through a concussion screen like it's her job because it basically is (she's a vet tech).

The rider was shaken but thankfully okay, and so she and S walked a bit of the trail on foot for a while to calm down.  We were still 2 miles from the trail head. We had done an hour out but two of those miles in the hour out were at a decent clip and it was not going to be the same time going back as we were much slower.

On top of it all, S's horse (one of the studs) was in the pen they have and ran into a nest of yellowjackets and they both came running out in a panic because he got stung and S is allergic. 

So it was eventful. But it was also beautiful. The fireflies are still going so the darker forested parts of the trail just sparkled and glittered with their blinking light. We were dive bombed by bats feasting on the bugs. I didn't get one mosquito bite. It was almost chilly, in the upper 60sF and while there were some clouds, they cleared as the moon rose, beautiful and red, with Mars trailing to the side bright as could be. Alicia and I laughed and laughed, even through some of the scarier parts because I'm a nervous laugher. But we had an amazing time. The shoe held up quite well and was a pain to get off, which I'm calling a positive because if I have to freaking pry the thing, it's not going to just come loose on the trail. I have an amazing mare who trusts me and is game for pretty much anything, which is my dream horse. Instead of being frustrated at our slow return pace, I worked on using my seat to rate her back and she was mindful and listened. I hold no blame for her spooks. I knew this is an eventuality with her eye injury and because she's part Appy. I blame the idiots who were joy riding. I blame the moron riding his bicycle where he was not allowed.

She's my best mare and my buddy and it was really nice to have 'just' a ride with friends that night. It was the perfect end to a really long work day.