Amanda Washington and Belesema Replika's story from shod to barefoot in weeks!
I picked up my new mare, Belesema Replika, over Labor Day weekend at the Old Selam Endurance Ride up in Idaho City. Special thanks to Kim Johnson of Belesemo Arabians for allowing me this amazing opportunity. I had ridden my gelding, PF Fast Eddy, on day one of Old Selam, happily glued into his Glove shells with Goober Glue as the adhesive. Eddy flew through the course, up and down the mountain trails, over the rocks, on top of the pavement- it was awesome! I let him go faster than usual because I had planned the spend day two of the ride either riding Replika or volunteering. Replika did day one with her old owner, and about halfway through the ride, she pulled a shoe- along with a huge chunk of her inside hoof wall. She finished the ride with a regular old-style Easyboot, completing as fit to continue.
Due to the pulled shoe, we decided to do a trail ride the next day. Yikes! Replika was about a grade three lame on the left front, the foot which was shoeless, in an Easyboot and missing a large portion of itself. We went back to the trailer and I proceeded to pull the remaining three shoes. Her front feet were extremely short and very flat, her back feet were an odd shape of high-heeled clubbiness. I did some minor trimming on the hinds, taking off a bit of heel which immediately softened the angle and made them more "normal." Thankfully, she had a good depth of sole with lots of concavity. We took Replika home and put her in a pair of boots in the front. She was extremely footsore barefoot. The next day I fitted her for glue-ons and three days later she had front boots glued on with Goober Glue as the adhesive and smeared into the sulci for frog support. She was quite sore on the foot that she pulled her shoe off, which is fairly normal considering all of the soft tissue damage that can occur in that situation. Every day she got better and better. I pulled the boots off every week for a day or so, and put them back on. Our horses are on 180 acres in the dry desert foothills, and are constantly on the move. She didn't have the foot to sustain anything being worn off. After two boot changes, she was 100% sound and had an awesome toe flip to show for!
At the beginning of week three, I decided to take Replika to the Owyhee Canyonlands 5-day ride. I was eager to ride her and knew she would be quiet in camp if one day was all we did. I glued on a new set of shells, still using the GG as a packing and as the main adhesive. I wouldn't have it any other way- that stuff rocks! I packed up bringing a lot of entertainment for my days spent sitting around camp. Little did I know....
I saddled up for day 1 of Canyonlands. We were to do Wildhorse Butte- one of my very most favorite rides. This ride has amazing footing, awesome washes to fly through and gorgeous views down by the river. I knew she would be good for this ride as there are literally about ten rocks on the whole trail. She was awesome and finished the ride like it was ten miles. I thought, what the heck, we'll do day two, and then she can rest.
Day two was fairly miserable considering the first loop was 30 miles of ROCK. I don't mean rock like the kind you can pick through and not hit, I mean the kind that is EVERYWHERE! A friend and I rode together, both on barefoot, booted horses. We rode very conservatively, taking our time through the rocks and taking care of our horses. I thought this would be the end of our journey, no way would she hold up over all those rocks and be fit to continue, let alone go on for another day! This little, tough, amazing mare surprised me as she just kept going- carefully picking her way through the rocks, never taking a bad step. She finished in great shape and with the kind encouragement from my friends, we decided to start another day.
Now day three was the kind of day where you wonder why you put yourself and your horse through the sport! It's also the kind of day that after you safely finish, and you and your faithful horse are tucked in for the night, you realize why you do it. Rock, more rock, long climbs out of three canyons and more rock. 'Nuff said. Both Replika and I were tired after this ride. She was beginning to show the signs of leg weariness, and I think the rock got to her at the end as she was being very careful not to step on any, which made for slow going. However, her completion exam received all A's and she trotted out with lots of impulsion and was very sound. At dinner that night, several-time Tevis finisher told me; "If you can do that ride, you can do Tevis! Today was perfect Tevis conditioning." Needless to say, we took the next day off.
Replika ate and drank more than my monster-sized gelding ever has. This mare really takes care of herself. She looked great the next morning, and spent the day happily snoozing in the sun. I decided to go again the last day, which would be a repeat of the Wildhorse ride. Unfortunately Replika developed a very nasty case of scratches overnight, which made for a sore spot on both her left front and hind pasterns. She kept trucking, however, and again, finished the ride in fantastic form. Three weeks out of shoes, we went four days and 205 miles! This mare is amazing!!!! However, we couldn't have done it without the use of boots to ease the transition. She is now comfortably barefoot cruising around the pasture after growing enough foot to protect herself, and will spend the rest of the fall trail riding and doing whatever else her princess self wants to do.
I have been incredibly impressed, relieved and thankful for the Easyboot Glue-On shells, Gloves and the Goober Glue which I have been using exclusively since July. Thank you Garrett for setting us up and allowing us to test some of the new products! It was this very ride last year, that I lost all four boots within five miles of the start using another brand of boot and Adhere as the adhesive. I know many are using Adhere successfully, but it's just not for me. The success of gluing with Adhere depends on the storage, age and condition of the Adhere, considering the same person can out on several sets of boots, using the same process and still have problems. I can use Goober Glue without worrying about getting any on the sole and causing pressure points, or causing pressure and discomfort in the heels. I love the fact that you can apply the boots at a leisurely pace and can use the same material for extra protection in the sole. My husband, who is an equine veterinarian, loves the frog support that the Goober Glue offers when applied as a sole packing. If I had to glue boots with Adhere one more time, I think I might have been husbandless at this point! Nothing causes a good fight like that of applying boots with a substance that cures in .02 seconds, for an important ride, on an impatient gelding. Ahhh, it's a good thing to relax!
So that's my story of our transition to barefoot. Of course one can argue that a booted horse really isn't "barefoot," but for all intents and purposes, my horse is much better off with rubber boots than steel shoes and pads. Thank you for allowing us this option!
In the famous words of Kevin- "Keep up the boot-legging!"