Acey’s second pair of 00 Back Countries arrived last week, and we took our first test ride on Wednesday. Here she is, all ready to go in her new boots and Stonewall saddle. Isn’t she CUTE?
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Back to the boots:
1. The LocTite worked. I had no further issues with screws coming loose (on the boots, anyway…) while riding.
2. Something about Acey makes the velcro on her hind boots come unfastened very easily. The top two layers of the 3-layer velcro system kept coming undone on the near side, leaving the gaiter flapping along as she trotted. I couldn’t get it to stay put for more than a couple strides. This happened just once on the off side boot. Maybe she’s catching it against the opposite boot, which would explain why the off side wasn’t as much of a problem, as the boots are identical so each top layer of velcro points the same direction. Acey handled the flapping gaiter just fine and the boots stayed on and didn’t twist, but obviously we need a fix for this. Duct tape all the way around the gaiter? Not ideal, but it would probably do the job.
3. Acey trots really, really fast with all four feet booted.
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.