Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rain, rain, go away...

It started raining on Wednesday and hasn't really stopped since then.  I managed to get a decent ride in the arena before the rain came down too hard, but I haven't done anything since then except pat my horse.  I even took pity on him and put his rain sheet on, and this is how he repaid me:

That carcass-like thing used to be a fairly expensive Rhino turnout sheet.  Somehow, Nimo managed to rip all three layers apart.  I'm guessing he had help, but who knows?  Sort of luckily, I have never really liked that sheet because the high neck rubbed his mane off in the middle and the lack of gussets didn't seem to work well.  Plus, I don't think it was all that waterproof (possibly due to overzealous washing by the barn staff a couple of years ago).  I had planned to try the Rambo Optimo blanket system because of the huge gusset, but because my husband and I are both Federal government employees, my financial leash has been snapped tight due to the shutdown.  So until I start earning a paycheck again, my horse is on a serious budget.

I checked at Dover Saddlery for a new sheet, but they had nothing in his size at the store except for a Baker sheet that didn't have gussets.  And honestly, I've been through most of the types of sheets they carry already, and none of them really do it for me.  So, I checked Smartpak and they had the Roustabout Ultra Light Rain Sheet.  It got good reviews, was significantly cheaper than a Rambo, and there was literally only one sheet in size 84 left.  I took that as a sign and ordered it.  We'll see how it works out.  I usually don't blanket unless my horse is clipped, but he doesn't have his full winter coat yet, and it was getting into the low 50s at night, so I figured he would appreciate some extra protection with all the rain we've been getting.  Silly me.  I probably will just leave him blanketless unless I decide to clip for the winter, but I always like to have something on hand, just in case.

Anyway, despite the call of housework, laundry, and organizing crap, I decided to spend some time today on horse stuff to get ready for my ride in a couple of weeks.  First, I ordered a few inexpensive items that I think I'll need.  I'd heard good things about Running Bear as a supplier of endurance-related stuff, so I thought I'd give them a try.  The website was a little hard to navigate, but about 10 minutes after I placed my order, I got an e-mail saying my package had shipped, so that's pretty impressive customer service.  I ordered a medical armband, sponge leash (I already have a sponge), mesh bag to put sponge in, a card pack for my rider card (thanks all for the tips to put the card in my bra, but that kind of weirds me out...), a water scoop, and D-ring add-ons.  I had planned to do what Liz did in this post, but when I came across the D-ring things for $6 at Running Bear, I figured I couldn't do it any better or cheaper than that.  My dressage saddle only has 2 tiny D-rings, and I really need a couple more.

I also followed the advice Aarene gives in Endurance 101, which is to get an ID tag to braid into my horse's mane in case we get separated.  Karen Chaton offered a good source on her blog, so I went to, and ordered a set of two military-style tags

Finally, I decided to deal with my Easyboot issue.  You may remember that I snapped a cable on my last ride and did not have an extra boot or cable.  Earlier in the week, I ordered more Easyboots (2 for the hind feet and one extra) plus extras like cables, boot hardware, hoofpicks, and a couple sets of the new buckles.  These new buckles are called EasyUp buckles.  Initially, I didn't really think I'd want to upgrade, but now that I'm going to be booting on all 4 feet (4 boots/shoes are required for the OD Intro ride that I'm doing in a couple of weeks), I can see that the buckle locking pins are going to get kind of irritating.  They do work really well, but it does take extra time to put them in.  Also, the EasyUps look like they have more adjustment options.  So, I thought I'd give them a try.  For $10/boot, EasyCare will make the upgrade for you, but I wanted to save some money, and I figured doing the upgrade myself would help me understand how to make boot repairs in the future.

So, I got my new boots, the new buckle kits, and went to the website to get the instructions for installation.  This is what the company posted:

Let me assure you that these directions are inadequate.  So, I searched a little more and found a sequence of photos.  These pictures and the accompanying descriptions helped a little more, but there are several errors in the directions.  I'll try to remember them and write them here in case anyone else would like to spend a fun-filled evening messing around with Easyboots.  First, the directions don't tell you that there are two screws of different lengths in the kit and it is important that the shorter one is on top and the longer one is on the bottom.  Second, the instructions don't tell you what the top and bottom of the buckle is.  You can look at the picture and figure it out, but if you just use the instructions without pictures, you might not realize that you are installing the buckle upside down...Third, the instructions tell you that you don't need the round white rollers for the cables for the EasyUp buckle.  That isn't true unless there are shorter screws included in the kit, which there are not.  So, you need to mess around with the rollers to get them to work with the new cable style to avoid having a screw that is too long go through the boot and potentially scrape the crap out of your horse's hoof.  Fourth, none of the instructions make it clear just how annoying it is when the little gold screw holder thingamajigs repeatedly fall out and wander around the boot, the floor, or the table while you try to get your stubby fingers to hold on to them while tightening the screws.  And finally, the directions do not tell you to make sure that the cable is on top of the buckle before you put the cables in place.  There is not enough slack in the cable to get it over the top of the buckle after it is installed.  After about an hour and a half and a glass of wine, I was able to get the new buckles installed.

Also, this now means that in addition to the two spare cables I ordered, I have two buckle replacements for the old-style buckles.  After learning how I'm supposed to replace the broken cable, I think it might be easier to just replace the whole buckle system if I'm on the trail because otherwise I need a hammer and an anvil...I'm planning to give the new buckles a try tomorrow to see how they work.  If they don't, I still have time to swap the old buckles back in before my Intro ride.  I know I'm not supposed to make any changes too soon before ride day, but I think I should have plenty of opportunities to try the new buckles ahead of time, and the boot itself is still the same model and size.

I also assembled my boot repair/replacement kit for the trail.  I already had a Hoof Boot Stowaway Pack so I laid out the items I thought I needed to put in it.

Sorry the picture is a little fuzzy (possibly I shouldn't drink and take pics at the same time), but I've got a flathead screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, hoof pick, spare cable, spare buckle with cable and installation hardware, complete hardware for a whole boot, and the extra screws that came with the boot.  Not pictured that I will also pack are my needle-nosed pliers and buckle locking pins for the old-style buckles.  Everything fits into the Stowaway pack pretty well except that I think shorter screwdrivers would work better, so I think I'll pick some of those up.

Anyway, that concludes my rainy day ride preparation.  I'll definitely post soon about how I like the EasyUp buckles, but for now, it's bed time!

1 comment:

  1. I am a pretty big Easycare fan, but nothing about easyboots is actually easy. It's doable, but it's not easy. I finally got all my "used" glue-ons converted to Gloves, and yeah - it's not easy, but I did it and saved some $$.

    I liked Liz's D-rings-on-a-string! Hope yours work out.