In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

In Which Easyboot Back Countries Go Very Fast

Acey nearly got eaten yesterday.  By cows.

These were not ordinary cows.  Acey doesn’t mind ordinary cows.  These were Scary Weanling Cows in Crackling Brush.  They were another animal entirely.  Just ask Acey.

We were in the middle of a road test for her new Stonewall saddle and 00 Easyboot Back Country boots.  I decided not to haul out to the BLM land for the test, in case something went wrong and we had to cut our ride short.  Instead, we left from In the Night Farm and rode a loop that gave us plenty of opportunities to turn back if needed.

As it transpired, the saddle fit comfortably with almost no adjustment.  Custom built for Acey, this saddle is narrower than the old one and felt much more stable on Acey’s tiny frame.  I’m sure she found me easier to carry.  She certainly had plenty of energy and a free stride.

I forgot to take a photo of the new saddle on Acey, so here it is modeled by the lovely Ripple Effect.  Blessedly, Ripple’s back measurements are almost identical to Acey’s and the new saddle fits her nicely, too.

The boots are about as big as they could possibly be on Acey without crossing the line to ridiculous.  Outfitted as Gloves, the 00 shells would never stay on her feet (yes, I did try once).  As BC’s, they clung to her little feet through walks, trots, extended trots, canters…and a gallop.  Which leads me back to the cows.

We were six miles from home.  I’d dismounted to let a massive tractor roar by.  Acey scarcely looked at the tractor, but before I could get back on, something in the deadwood at the side of the road went *crack!*  She jumped.  Her eyes bulged.  We stared together into the brush.  And from it emerged…a young holstein.

Well.  That would have been okay, except that there wasn’t just one cow.  There was at least a score of them, all half-spooked and half-concealed by the crackling brush.  They moved like clumsy ghosts, in fits and starts, and Acey couldn’t get a clear look at any of them.  Her tiny ears positivly quivered, and I swear I could hear her heartbeat as I tried to lead her past the long gauntlet of terror.

That was working fine until one of the cows jumped a small ditch.  The sudden movement sent Acey right over the edge.  She bolted, and her biothane reins slipped right out of my hand.  (Incidentally, I’ve been having that problem with biothane reins.  On hot days, in sweaty hands, they get awfully slick if you actually need to keep a firm hold on them for any period of time.  Maybe I need to either wear gloves or go back to my cotton rope reins.)

Anyway, I had to laugh as I watched Acey’s little bay butt tearing away down the road.  I wasn’t terribly worried about her.  It was a little-traveled road with fences on both sides, and we were a good mile away from the next intersection.  There wasn’t much for a running horse to do but stop.  Eventually.

A nice guy in a farm truck happened to see the incident, and he saved me the quarter-mile walk to where Acey decided to stop on the shoulder, looking baffled.  I retrieved her easily and checked her boots.  Surely if they were going to come off from speed, that would have done it.

Both boots were still there.  Hooray!  However, as I handwalked her along waiting for her brain cells to reboot, I noticed that the near-side gaiter was shifting up and down.  Further inspection revealed that the two screws in front (the “Power Strap” portion) had come loose.  They were still there, but no longer attached to the shell.  Only the triple-velcro attachment at the back of the boot had kept the gaiter (and probably the shell, too) from soaring off into the wild yonder.

In all fairness, Easycare’s instructions do say to check the screws before every ride.  This is not something I usually do (bad me!), and considering these were brand-new boots, it didn’t occur to me.  I swore to mend my ways.  But promises weren’t going to save the present situation.

You’ll recall that I was riding in a new saddle.  With new saddlebags.  New saddlebags, that is, into which I had put nothing but my camera and a bottle of water.  I hadn’t transerred my usual assortment of “just in case” items including chapstick, sunscreen, Larabar, hoof pick, and multi-tool.  Guess which item I needed.

MacGyver time.  I explored my tack for a screwdriver substitute and came up empty.  No scraps along the roadside appeared to help, either.  Spinning the boot around the screw got one side attached, but that obviously wasn’t going to work for the other side.  I ended up using my thumbnail (ow) and got it tight enough to proceed.

We finished our ride with no further adventure.  Back home, I removed the saddle to find a nice, even sweat pattern and no ruffled hairs.  The off-side boot, though, now had a loose gaiter!  Hmm.

So about the boots:  Tighten the screws when you take them out of the box.  I’m guessing this is not a product problem — just user error.  I’ll check the screws before my next few rides and let you know if they come loose again.

Today, we’re off to test the new Stonewall on some steeper hills across the Oregon border.  I’ll pack my saddlebags properly before we go.

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13 responses

  1. LOL Oh the adventures of training babies 🙂 I had a similar incident with LJ a few weeks ago, involving ducks flying out of a pond in front of us. Plop, I went right over his shoulder. Luckily he came trotting back to me! Glad you and Acey are okay, and that the new saddle and boots seem like a good fit!

    April 22, 2012 at 7:44 am

    • Oh dear. At least I was lucky enough to be on the ground already when she took off! But isn’t it sweet when they volunteer to come back with that “mama? save me!” look on their faces? LOL

      April 22, 2012 at 7:46 am

      • That was exactly his reaction! “Help me!” Our incident was a little last minute, we were trotting along quite nicely and some ducks flew up and LJ shied sideways, and I kept going forward LOL!!

        April 22, 2012 at 7:55 am

  2. Oh also, I forgot to mention, I use beta-biothane and I find it a lot nicer to hold than regular biothane. It’s very supple and grippy. I don’t care for regular biothane at all.

    April 22, 2012 at 7:54 am

    • Now you have me wondering which I have. Mine is matte and supple, and it’s grippy unless my hands are sweaty. Hmm. Will check.

      April 22, 2012 at 7:56 am

  3. I used to use the beta biothane reins — very supple and matte, like you said. I really liked them, but they weren’t grippy enough. I finally switched to the Super-Grip Beta reins (they’re made of this pebbly-grip stuff) and they’re the one pair of reins I’ve not had yanked out of my hands. I got mine from Hought tack, but I think most of the biothane companies make them.

    April 22, 2012 at 8:25 am

    • Ahh, I’ve seen those grippy reins on websites but never held them. Are they heavy?

      April 23, 2012 at 7:17 am

      • bighorselittlehorse

        no, they’re not heavy or stiff like the rubber reins eventers use. They’re really soft and supple, and you can use them with or without gloves. I got mine from Taylored Tack, and I love them.

        April 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      • Cool, thanks!

        April 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

  4. I always ride in gloves – my beta reins slip too. Costco has one brand of cloth gloves with rubber crosshatching on the fingers and palms that works perfectly.

    Also, maybe some Locktite on the screws?

    April 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm

  5. K.C.

    That sounds a little similar to our experience last weekend at Avimor with the sheep that are currently running through there. Gus thought for sure those stinky, weird looking, weird sounding things were out to get him. If there had been a spinning contest we would have won. Luckily we went through the same thing with cows and I was able to keep him facing the sheep until his brain re-engaged, we were able to walk on eventually. My riding partner whose horse is bomb proof just laughs at the antics of “Junior” as do I at this point.

    We went on a great ride yesterday (18 miles) as our last prep ride for Tough Sucker II. I had one of my Renegade boots come off after he almost stepped in a hole and over reached with his hind to correct, but luckily I heard it come off and was able to retrieve and put it back on without trouble. I will be spending some time checking saddle fit this week and work on general partnership. In addition to some random tail swishing it took me an hour -plus help -to catch him yesterday, so I can only figure there is some way I am lacking in either my leadership or my partnering that he would not let me within 10 feet of him. I finally had to catch the lead horse and lead them all in to a small pen so he could be cornered and caught. Sometimes I really envy those of you who have your horses at home and can play with them at any given free moment.

    April 23, 2012 at 6:27 am

    • K.C.

      Oh to comment on the other, I always ride with gloves and have leather reins so my fingers never slip off or get burned.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:30 am

  6. Pingback: Coming Unscrewed « The Barb Wire

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