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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

January 7, 2009

Mid-week musings, thoughts, and plans.

Phebes and I have been lucky so far this winter that the weather here in southeastern Indiana has been relatively mild. We have been riding on either mud or frozen tundra depending on the weekend temperatures for our scheduled conditioning rides. Because I know the real cold is yet to come I’ve chosen not to clip her. Phebe’s coat never gets long; it just becomes denser, kind of like teddy bear fur. On our coldest ride days I’ve tried to rate her at a trot to avoid her breathing deep super cold air, and risking respiratory problems. On days above freezing we really let loose and run except for the slippery down hills. The only time I’ve felt cold on our winter rides are the days we pleasure ride vs. train. Riding at the walk you just don’t seem to get that blood flow into your fingers and feet, and even though gloved, and double wool socked my toes get frosty. On the other hand, if we are moving out, I feel pretty warm, if not too warm at some point. So if the footing is reasonable, better to do a slow warm up, then get to trotting!

A few weeks back I had made her a rump rug from polar fleece. I made it kind of long, but have since re-thought that. The blanket this past weekend kept migrating to one side, and I didn’t like how it was flopping around back there, envisioning a hoof catching in the fabric and injuring her or causing us a wreck. So I took the scissors to it on Sunday last and trimmed it down to hang much shorter. Enough I believe to keep those big muscles cozy, but not enough to get in the way or twist this direction or that.

My Easyboot Bares are hitting the road today. They sold so I’m looking forward to getting a set of the new Easyboot Gloves. I plan to boot her front hooves first, then scrounge up the cash later for her hinds + a spare boot for our cantle bag. I’ve not decided for sure, but I may go with the glue on boots for the hinds. So thank you Kelly for purchasing the Bares! We may get booted yet.

I’ve used Phebes S-Hack three times now. I really, really, really like it. It did not help to rate her, but it does stop her much better than the Dr. Cook’s that I was using, and she feels much less bothered by it as evidenced by her not wanting to constantly rub at her face. It has been a learning curve for me though to ride with a loose rein which I am very much not accustomed to doing. I’ve always ridden with light contact on the rein. So I’m working hard to change how I ride and trying hard to develop some trust in my horse.

The Crestridge Crusade Lite saddle continues to perform well. Her shoulders are moving freely, and her sweat patterns are even with a nice dry channel down the spine. I did find I needed to modify my Crestridge pad. Once we started speeding up the pad would creep backwards under the saddle as much as 3 or 4 inches. My favorite saddle repair and tack guru Gerald Huffman from Locust Grove Tack and Feed sewed on some nylon keepers with tiny D rings. I’m going to test this but feel reasonably sure that the pad will stay put. Over the weekend I washed up my Skito pad that was purchased for the treeless saddle. It is a $180 pad, beveled inserts, wool bottom, and low profile quilted under the leg. It fits under my western saddle reasonably well, but I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it, or sell it and put the money towards her new boots. I have a barrel shaped Skito that is several years old, but in good repair that I could use as a back up pad. Then there is the treeless saddle which I’ve not decided if I’ll keep or not keep. The treeless worked well for her, but it sure didn’t work out for me. I need to support of a tree with my physical limitations (Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia). The treeless will likely go up for auction in the spring. My Abetta I will keep as an emergency back up saddle and to ride Puddin’ if I ever get time to work with her under saddle again.

As soon as spring turns the corner I must see about getting my horse trailer cleaned out. The tack room looks like a bomb went off in there. My cot is covered with spare clothes, horse gear, feed buckets….it’s a mess!

I’m off to my Mom’s in a little while. We will go shopping and I’ll mail off Kelly’s boots. If the weather is decent this afternoon I may try to go for a ride on Phebes. Would love to work on rating her speed....rating her speed.....rating her speed! ~E.G.


  1. Hi Jacke -
    It's been fun reading about you and Phebes! Arabee and I are getting more confident in each other, and I am close to being ready to ride in the woods around home.

    I am really hoping to have Arabee fit enough to ride with you guys on February 28th, at Versailles, after you do the XYZ loop, maybe we could join for the AB loop!

    So far we've been only walking in our rides, but I'm ready to start adding some trotting, probably 1 or 2 minutes at a time, and gradually. Our rides have been lasting about an hour, but part of the reason I've been hesitant to trot out is I have no clue what to do with a sweaty horse in the cold weather temperatures!

    Do you have any tips for how to cool a horse out? She's got a fuzzy winter coat, which I planned on leaving natural, and I just am not sure how to keep her safe from the chill all sweaty and wet.


  2. It's hard for me to keep contact on the reins. I grew up riding western. Even when I started to take lessons for jumping my instructors would all say I needed more contact. It's just alot of my horses would go faster with more contact! But I've learned with my younger horses to alternate contact with the reins in situtations where the horses are a bit "overwhelmed". At our ride on satuday, sometimes when you and Phoebe would come flying up behind us, or just be riding behind us, Stormy would want to look backwards. She would kind of go "sideways". So I just made her do a half pass in one direction (like it was my idea) then in the other until she got tired of me making her do it and then I would let her straighten out.

    I know on sticky situations when the footing is that slick mud, the horse in front of you is running and you are trying to slow your horse for the hill-mud slide; I just do my best to slow her before the hill then give her her head for the hill. If not it's even more dangerous if I'm pulling, and trying to stop her and she's fighting and we are going down a slippery, muddy hill. I just trust the horse to take me thru it. And she does. Although there were some turns on the Z part of the trail that she'd try to take at a canter and her legs would slide out from under her around the turns. So I'd try to keep her at a trot around them, but it's so fun to canter...

    When do the Gloves go on sale? And do you know how much they are?

    Michelle Detmer

  3. Nicole,

    Here is my strategy for cold weather cool downs. We start the ride by warming up (when she isn't crazy and wanting to race away). rump rug over her hind quarters to keep those big muscles warm. I like to walk for a quarter mile then move into a trot (I know you asked about cooling off but I'll get there) rolling the rump rug up out of the way. Then I attempt to get into a sustained rhythm, if I get winded we'll walk a little while (you notice she isn't getting winded, but I am!) then return to the trot, so we keep that intermittent pace. Once I know she is calm and I have brakes we will do some cantering which I'm loving better all the time (when it is not a horse race). About 1/4 mile out from where we will finish we will go back into a trot, then down to a walk, and walk that last little bit. Now the first step of the cool down is walking the horse in and letting the pulse rate come down nice and slow. I unsaddle, and immediately blanket her those big hind muscles don't cramp up. You may want to walk the horse a little if pulse seems a little high, but generally after I blanket the hay bag and water bucket are coming out as that is how they will need to proceed at a ride.

    If the temps are above 40 degrees I'll pull the blanket off after the horse is loaded. If it is going to be a cold ride home in the 30's or below I'll leave the blanket on.

    At home I'd blanket her and put her in the barn until her coat is dry, then pull it off, brush her good, and let her out.

    Some people clip their horses but since my horses are turned out at least twelve hours a day, I want the coat left on. So far what I am doing is working, and you don't have to worry so much about them cooling out in my mind as you do not letting the muscles cramp up from a cold wind blowing on a hot sweaty horse. Does that make sense?

    I would love for you to come ride with us, but we will likely be out pacing your mare until she's in condition. I'd start her at the slower pace you are suggesting, and would be happy to come ride with you at your pace some nice weekend day. If you think your girl is ready for sustained trotting come on down! We'd be glad to have you.

  4. Michelle,

    When last I communicated with Garret he said the boots were going to be in the $55 range per boot. You will need to order a sizing kit for $8.95 The gloves go on sale sometime in February.

    The kit will have three boots in it that most closely fit your measurements of the horse's hooves in mm. Proper fit for these boots is a REAL CLOSE FIT. The sizing is different than other easy boots so don't go off that size. If you look on the right side of my blog on down the page there is a link to Garrett's blog where he talks about measuring for size. I'm planning on ordering 2 fitting kits if necessary to get Phebes sized all the way around. I'm glad I was able to sell my bares even at a loss so I can purchase at least the fronts. We will be going to Henryville in March and I want her booted as my understanding is there will be a lot of rock. The trail was snow covered the only time I was there, so I'm going on hear say.

  5. Nicole,

    Part 2: Actually if you are training your mare consistently by February she really should be fit enough to do that A+B loop, I was thinking in terms of sooner, rather than your target date. But whenever you decide to come, know that we would love to have you. If we do out pace you, I will ride with you are your rate. It will be good for Phebes, and give us a chance to talk! ~EG

  6. Thanks for the info on cooling - so you don't really "do" anything specific (like towel drying) about the sweat? Just easy walking in, blanket (how heavy?), hay, keep away from drafts? Not as bad as I had thought!

    I really hope to be consistently riding. So far 2009 has been good, I've ridden 5 days and it's the 7th, and I plan on riding again tonight! I just want to take it slow, the main thing for me is to have fun....goal oriented fun! But, realistically I really do think I can have her fit enough to ride with you guys at the end of Feb. I hope!

  7. Nicole,

    If she is really sweaty I rub her down good with a bath towel before I blanket. Mostly I do that because I think it makes her back feel better after getting the saddle off. She seems to like it!

    Blanket weight depends on weather. Last weekend I used a light weight summer cooler, just something to break the wind. Colder days I use my old beat up lined winter weight blanket, really cold...I put a blanket liner under it made from polar fleece for $12. My rump rug is home made for about the same price. I just bought polar fleece, cut it to size, and put grommets in it. It ties to the saddle with leather ties.

    Once you get your mare trotting, spend each session increasing the trot time, even if you have to do intervals. In the beginning with Phebes I trotted her up in the front paddock. I'd wear my watch and each session go a little longer. Once she could trot 3 miles sustained, we starting pushing towards trail work. Now she can intermittently trot, gallop ten miles without much effect (except I'm ready to pass out *LOL*). Last weeks near 20 miles was a major breakthrough.