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.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Summer Hunt Pace with the Metamora Hunt 7.78 miles

What a weekend this turned out to be. The Pace was originally scheduled for Saturday. However, all day thunderstorms in the forecast had organizers postponing the ride to Sunday, instead of the previously mentioned postponment of the following weekend. This meant that a LOT of people were upset, especially the eventing crowd, because the Pace and the July Eventing Derby were now on the same day.


It also meant that Alicia couldn't come with me since she works on Sundays. So I was left without a team. My plan was to get there early and hopefully snag a spot on an open team (You ride in groups of 2-4).

Well, I got there early (and drove past the eventing derby on my way) and registered and let them know I was a single rider. Then I went and got tacked up.

Gwyn was good to tack up, but then I started to leave and forgot my helmet. After retrieving it, I decided to use my tiny step stool and she didn't want to stand still and took off running across the hay field we were parked in. I hiked after her, found a better mounting block and got on there and rode to the start.  And just missed a group I could have ridden with.

Do you see that flagged tail? Someone thought she was an Arabian
Luckily, there was another person waiting for the rest of her group (she'd been dropped off since they only had a 2h trailer for 3 horses) to arrive. Her group rides regularly with the Hunt Club so it seemed like a good fit for me to jump in with and she was really nice!

So I hung out with Ashley and her gelding, who was super cute. The rain was misting and the promises of no rain on Sunday seemed to be fading, lol.

The Start and Finish
 So I totally forgot my helmet cam, which I was cursing because I remembered as I pulled in to park. But I had to get done fairly quickly since I had to also run into work in the afternoon and get there before 2:10p  (thanks boss who quit for NOT putting the samples in late like I requested...) So no pictures from the trail since Endomondo quits working if I take my phone out to take a picture.

It was really nice trail though, take my word for it? All greenery and most of it was under trees so we could hear the rain hitting the leaves but we weren't getting too wet. There were some sections on dirt road and on field edges and that's where we tried to go faster to get back under the cover of the branches.

Gwyn led the whole time at a 12min/mile pace (5 mph). There were two Sherry stops and the landowners had snacks for us as well. Gwyn shared my rice krispy treat and twizzler. I thought I was setting a reasonable pace, slower than I would go on an endurance ride. According to my riding buddies it was a "blistering fast pace" and they were amazed at how much ground Gwyn's trot covered. Haha, oops? She's a powerhouse and really moves out on the trail.

I practiced quiet cues for canter on the trail and made sure to ask for both leads. Gwyn was pretty good! I need to do this more.

Satellite with lap paces

Mile 6 was when we had our gallop and then mile 7 started off at the second sherry stop and included us slowing down on the Angel trail to count angel statues (31) for a chance to get another ribbon. 

A very wet horse (but not sweaty) 

"Is this it, Mom?"

We'll see if we got optimum time. Honestly, given what Ashley told me about how we went faster than how the Hunt usually goes, I might just start trying for fastest time if 5mph avg is SO FAST.   ( I am rolling my eyes here)  Alicia should be going with me for the Fall Pace so I'll see if she wants to try for that.

Probably the best part was since it was cool weather (mid 60s, overcast and rain) there were NO BUGS!! All in all it was a great day. I also gave Ashley and her horse a ride home so they wouldn't have to play leapfrog trailer. It wasn't too much out of the way since she boards at Matador Farm in Oxford. I drive past that farm every day after I drop Kaylee off at school.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

An evening toodle

The weather, while we need rain, hasn't been as bloody hot lately and it makes for some really pleasant evenings. And since it's been dry, the mosquitoes don't even seem as bad. Last night I decided that after a ridiculously busy day at work, I needed a bareback toodle. We could work on right leg and rein sensitivity and responsiveness without much pressure of a full workout. 

Hazel came to the barn with me and insisted on leading Gwyn up to the arena. I have a photo of Gwyn following Kaylee around like a puppy at this same age and this mare once again fills my heart with how precious and priceless she is. She kept her head low and followed that toddler with carefully placed feet. The only thing I need to do is show Hazel how to hold the lead line so Gwyn won't step on it. That was our only snafu, but even Gwyn started self correcting for getting too close and ground tying herself accidentally (lead rope was on the halter, not the bit, I know it's hard to tell)

Hazel has her own helmet, of course, and wants to put it on as soon as mine is on my head. She's also finally starting to show an interest in riding Gwyn, though not on her own. She likes riding with me. Since I had the bareback pad I think it was more comfortable for her too. She also likes holding the reins.

She chatters the whole time she's up there.

I worked on keeping Gwyn straight between me without using the arena edge and then also responsiveness to leg aids and neck reining as necessary. I didn't have my whip with me, and we didn't work on anything more than a walk.

As a random side note, I can't find my rainbow crop OR my black dressage whip and I have no idea where they might be.

Revelations I made, which might sound silly that I'm only figuring this out now, but ah well, that's why I'm taking lessons right?

Constant leg pressure aid was less effective than bumping her with a tap-tap-tap AND ALSO FUCKING EASIER ON MY LEG. Jesus. Why didn't I try that sooner? I feel like it's a super obvious thing and why didn't I do it, I have no idea. I feel silly. But there it is. I think I've been imagining my right leg as needing to be a wall or barrier which is making me hold contact and pressure, and that's probably wrong. So my mental approach to this needs to change. I'm going to experiment with this later when I can ride without a 2 year old in front of me.

Our selfie game is strong. I'm feeling really good about myself right now too with how everything is going health wise
So then I put kids to bed and promptly did a hip-opener yoga sequence and my legs are screaming at me WHY DO YOU HATE US!?? But I had cleaned my bedroom, like super clean and I now have a little yoga nook beside my bed that's just lovely and relaxing to be in.
The embarrassing before

The very zen after

And then I got crappy sleep because Hazel didn't sleep through the night like usual and woke up only to hear brays. Which is unusual. I figured someone went back to the barn and Saffron was calling to Gwyn and dismissed it.

Then I heard Gwyn whinny. And she doesn't really whinny unless she sees me at dinner time or unless someone escaped.


I'm sure that grass was nice and tasty but one of these things doesn't belong
On the plus side, my coworkers were highly amused by my text of "Running late, donkey escaped" As it turned out, I forgot to latch a stall door last night and despite putting both boards up on the door, Saffron is adept at lifting the bottom board just enough to slide under and then it settles back into place. So that was a great start to my morning,

Then, I stopped at the post office because I had a package from Belgium that needed to be signed for and for the life of me I couldn't remember what I was expecting from overseas.

I finally saw the box. It's the god damn megasus horse runners.

You know. That arrived after I caved and put shoes on Gwyn.