Monday, June 23, 2008

New Blog for the Tahoe Rim Trail

I think I might get overboard with the information that I will provide for the Tahoe Rim Trail for horses... so Logan and I created a new Blog specifically for doing the Rim Trail with your horse. Here you go - we will update it as we do each section and let you know where to park, camp, and how it goes for horses.

Tahoe Rim Trail - Brockway Summit to Tahoe City - June 22

In the morning, we packed up our horses from our camp spot at Spooner Summit and headed to Brockway Summit. We pulled off on the dirt road right about 1/8th mile past the TRT trail head parking on 276 at the top of the Summit - it has some antennas, weather stations, and leads to Robie Park. We found a good vacant lot that had a Sierra Pacific sign on it and parked in there, about 100' from 267. We were the only vehicle at 8 am on a Sunday.

We saddled up and headed towards Tahoe City. This time, we did not drop provisions as we heard there is plenty of grass and water in the Truckee River. But we did pack lots of water again, for fear there may not be much on this segment either.

The trail winded through lovely forests that gave us sporadic, but majestic, Lake views. Within 5 miles, we can to Watson Creek which provided the horses with water and grass and a break. So far, the footing has been nice forest floor - dirt - with moderate grades, so we trotted a bit more on this section since it is a lot longer at 19.2 miles. Within a mile or so, we arrived at Watson Lake. We didn't stay long since the horses and PacMan both had a good drink and break at the creek. I noticed a turn off trail between the creek and the lake, and I though this was the trail that would connect you to Robie Park. Yes, that was the case when I looked at the map afterwards. That would be a fantastic place to park if you didn't want to do the whole 165 miles as Logan and I intend.

After Watson Lake, the high spot for the day, we went downhill for a while and started to see more bike traffic. Turns out that this is one of the nicest places to bike on the whole TRT. I can understand that as the footing and grades for the horses was fantastic as well. The view of Lake Tahoe were so amazing as we switchbacked down.

At the headwaters of Burton Creek, we found more green grass and a few water holes. I am afraid if you wait a few more weeks that water will disappear. Heading towards Painted Rock, we got the most spectacular views of the Truckee River Canyon, and Squaw Valley, and Granite Chief and the rest of the Crystal Range. The granite on the mountains is so massive.

Coming around Cinder Cone we encountered some of the most rockiest trail I have ever seen. Shale, pumice, lots and lots of smaller rocks. I took lots of photos so that you can see for yourself. I didn't boot up PacMan because he looked fine over the rocks, but at the first sign of soreness, we were ready with his boots. The rock section is probably about 3-4 miles long as you head into Tahoe City, and I mean it is rocky. Good thing each horse had on Epics on all 4 hooves.

Once we arrived at Tahoe City, we headed towards the Truckee River to get water, but we noticed that HW 89 was in the way. So I found a nice grassy area and let the horses eat. Logan got in the cab and had the rig back within an hour. Cab ride cost $50. A lovely woman who lives near the trail head stopped to talk with me the whole time Logan was gone, and she helped hold the horses and get them untacked. Then we headed home after a quick bite to eat.

This section was started at 8:30 and finished at 4:30. We walked through the rocks, and trotted some on the good footing. I just really love the views so we went slower than some would take it. TONS OF WILDFLOWERS this time of year!

Dogs: PacMan did fine. We carried water for him and offered it to him every hour. We took a couple 30 minute breaks in the middle for him to rest. I though he woul have a problem on the rocky section, but no worries. Of course, he has a gravel driveway and a lot of the trails we ride on are graveled, so his pads are really tough. I would recommend dog boots for the rocky sections for most dogs.

Other Trail Users: Lots of Mountain Bikes. Maybe 30? Limited hikers, perhaps 10?


Tahoe Rim Trail - Kingsbury North to Spooner Summit - June 21

We arrived at Kingsbury North staging area around 11am on a Saturday. The parking area was pretty full, but we managed to park our rig on the side of the road. Would not have had much room for any other horse trailers. Or, if you get there earlier, yes there would be room for probably 4 or so. All we did was tack up the horses, and start riding to Spooner. The plan was to ride the 12.2 miles to Spooner, call a cab, have Logan take the cab back to Kingsbury, and then move the rig to Spooner and spend the night there. On our way in the morning, we stopped by Spooner with our rig and dropped off some hay and water for the horses to eat while I had to wait for Logan to come back with the trailer. I figured it would take about an hour, so we just dropped one flake of hay each and about 15 gallons of water.

The trail was gorgeous! Incredible Views of the Lake! We went really slow, i.e. walked and ate a lot of grass, so that the humans could enjoy the surroundings. It took about 5 hours at a really slow pace to get to Spooner, but the footing for 2/3 of the trail was really great and could be trotted. 1/3 of the trail was granite boulders and rock gardens, technical rocks. But nothing 'too hard' for the horses. I would suggest a savvy trail horse for this whole trail. The view at the top of the ridge was breathtaking.... There was a thunderstorm passing through, so the wind was also strong up there. Still had some snow off to the side of the trail on June 21, but the horses licked it and got water. There were NO WATER SOURCES on this trail!! Pack your own water, and water for your dog. Plan to drop off water at the finish line, as there is not a hose or a water tap at the staging areas either. Lots of wildflowers! The grades of the trail were moderate, you had steady, consistent climbs, nothing too steep. It was about 1600' up in 6 miles, and about that same height down spread over another 6 miles.

So when we get to Spooner, I called the cab. The cab company said, sorry, road is closed in S. Lake Tahoe for a street party, we can't get you until at least 8:30. Oh no.... what to do? Ride back another 12 miles? Reasonable for the horses, but our dog would have liked a break. Well, I kept calling and found a cab out of North Lake Tahoe to come and pick us up. It took Logan and hour and a half just to get back to the rig because of traffic on the road and cost $80. So over 2 hours later, the trailer arrived and we got the horses tucked in for the night. I should have left more water. There was green grass everywhere, but not enough water. The sky had been threatening all day, and it was raining just a little bit here and there, but passed by the time Logan arrived.

We set up camp in a big open area about 200' from the HW 50. We were the only ones there. To get to the landing, drive about 1/8th of a mile past the Spooner TRT Trail head, and make the first right turn onto a dirt road, and follow it straight up the hill. The turn is right after the divided highway begins. Tons of room for horses! When you leave in the morning, back your rig down the hill so that you can pull through to the TRT staging area to easily make the left turn out onto HW50.

Other Trail Users: This was a Saturday, so it was busy. We passed about 15 mountain bikes and about 20 hikers. There are OHV trails all around the Rim trail, so make sure your horse is accustomed to the noise of motorcycles.

Dogs: Pacman did fine on this section. Take lots of water as there was not even a puddle for him to drink out of. Very little small rock for the pads, the rocks that are out there are boulders which he did fine on. We started him out in doggy boots, but he was not moving well, and I think he got overheated in them (dogs sweat and cool off through their pads), so we took them off and he did much better. He did carry his back pack with water and first aid kit.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Extreme Mustang Makeover Update

Lucy is now turned out in the big front pasture, and is easy to catch. We took her on her first big walk off of the property yesterday evening, and she loved it. She was very calm, her head down, licking, chewing, blowing out of her nose, and eating grass. We went for a couple miles and even ran into neighbors, cows, tractors, and cars. She is very athletic, sweet, confident, and pretty.

Tahoe Rim Trail

Logan and I are making our maiden voyage on the Tahoe Rim Trail this weekend. We are doing 2 sections - from Kingsbury North to Spooner and then Brockway to Tahoe City. We are doing these 2 sections because they are not under snow, and they have been cleared of trees. We'll take lots of photos and let you know how it goes. We plan on doing point to point rides, and then calling a taxi at the end to pick up Logan. He will then go get the trailer to meet me and the girls. This should be fun! We will be using 4 hoof boots with gaiters for extra protection on our horse's hooves. PacMan, our Border Collie, is coming too. He will be doing the trail in boots as well. He doesn't like his boots, but hopefully, he'll adjust to them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gluing vs. Gaiters

Another question: "As long as you're on the hoof boot subject, please tell me about gluing the hoof boot onto the hoof vs. using a gaiter. Is there a reason one would be preferred over the other at any given time? I've noticed the gluing is more common on the endurance rides. What about conditioning rides? How difficult is it to remove the hoof boot with the glue?"

My answer:

The reason I foam on my boots for multidays is two-fold -

1. I don't want to wake up earlier to put the boots on (especially when my horse is ready to go!!) and take the boots off every night. I put them on the day before, and do not have to worry about them all week.

2. Anything above the hairline has the potential to rub, so by foaming on the boots, you eliminate all possibilities of rubbing. This is particularly important over lots of miles and lots of days.

For conditioning, I use gaiter boots. I usually just use front boots, and put them on before the ride, and then pop them off after the ride. This gives me flexibility to use all the different hoof boots on the market....

A foamed on boot can be difficult to remove, you need to loosen it with a screw driver, then pry it off. And then pull your foam out of the boot.

Karen Chaton's blog has detailed instructions on how to foam, and how to remove the boots. Here is a link, search on foam:

A downside to foaming is that thrush grows in that anaerobic environment, so make sure you clean the hooves, and try a piece of gauze in the frog with a thrush medication on there (Natalie Herman's trick).

Another down side is that once they are one, they are on - this has been a problem at 3 different rides for me. I have foamed on Easyboots, but then it rains. The Easyboots don't do great in mud, but the Grips do. I would have liked to pull off the Easyboots and put on the Grips, but I didn't because it is a bit of a process to remove them.

Bottom line - Gaiters for training, foam for multidays, and your choice for the one or two day rides!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Comfort Pads

I got a question in email: When should I use pads? How would I know if I should use them on my horse?

I thought I would post my answer.

"Always!!! On every horse! No questions, they can do no harm.

The real reason, to prevent peripheral loading of the hoof wall. If your hoof wall is raised above the sole, and is put into a flat boot, there is no way for the hoof wall to sink into the hard rubber of the boot. Therefore, it is just as good as using a rim shoe - the sole and frog and bars are not getting the impact because the hoof wall is not sinking into the boot, like it would on dirt naturally. If you put the pad inside the boot, then the hoof wall can sink into the foam, and the sole, bars, and frog will get stimulation from the pad. It is also more shock absorbing, and creates a perfect insole for a better fit of the boots. I have also found that horses that have very sore heel areas because of thrush or under developed digital cushions move out superbly in comfort pads.

I don't use Epics/Bares without comfort pads. I personally like the thick flat pads, but some prefer the thin flat pads whereas others like the Dome shaped pads. Play around with them, I love the effects that pads have. Navicular horses benefit greatly from the frog support pads, and this comes in a system that owners can play around with.

For $8 a set, your horse receives so much benefit, that it is a no-brainer to use them.

Check out Pete Ramey and Dr. Bob Bowker's work on blood perfusion and how much greater the blood goes into the hoof when you introduce a pad into the boot."

I love comfort pads. These can be ordered directly from Easycare's website, or I carry them with my all the time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lucy Update = Extreme Mustang Makeover

Lucy wore her halter for the first time today, willingly put her nose through it. I can pet her all over her body, including her teats, flank, and legs, and she follows me around. We are making great progress. She still lives in the round pen, I would like to turn her out in the front pasture once she is consistently haltering easily. She is so pretty, and has gorgeous action! And so sweet and tries so hard. She would make a great horse for anyone - very athletic.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Fort Schellbourne

Feather completed all 5 days at Schellbourne! She was one of 11 horses total that did so. I was so, so proud of her. This was a very challenging ride - lots of mountain climbs, but that is right up her alley. We went just north of Ely, NV, and camped at the Schellbourne Pony Express station, next to the Schell Mountain range. There were wild horses all over this country, lots of stud piles, and a few wild horse sightings. Turns out, this was the White Pine HMA, and that is where Lucy, my little girl, is from. Small world. I did see a stud running out there with a similar color, I wonder if that was her sire or brother??? The most memorable days were day 3 and day 5. Day 3, we woke up to a rain storm, but at 9000' where we were heading, that means snow, and lots of it. So I bundled up as warm as I could, and started out in the rain. It quickly turned to snow at about 7000'. At lunch time, I had the opportunity to pull, but my core was okay, my toes were freezing as were my fingers, but I continued on. Feather didn't mind it too badly, she didn't go sideways or put her head down or ears back like so many horses did, she just pushed forward and got me over the pass in very windy, very cold, and snowy conditions. I don't have too many photos on that day because it was so miserable but I made sure to take at least one at the top.

Day 5 was a gorgeous trail, a new trail for the area. Dave Rabe cleared an old trail called the Ranger Trail that followed the ridge. What a magnificant trail - high up there - 10,000' elevation. Beautiful weather, but extremely windy. When we were exposed along the ridge, the wind was probably 70 mph, with gusts up to about 100 mph. No kidding. Our helmets were blowing off of our heads, and our horses were getting pushed. But the views were out of this world.

I foamed on Easyboots in the front and Bares without gaiters in the back and they stayed on the whole time. No boot issues at all. I cut out all of the heel straps, and completely cut out the back of the hind boots, but I left the lip on the front boots. I was more than pleased with their performance, I have to go out there today and try to pry them off, 10 days later.

Saddle issues - I didn't use my Freeform as I have wither clearance issues with it that I can't seem to solve. So I tried my Barefoot for the first 2 days and Feather had a slightly sore back both days. Brenda so nicely offered me a Bob Marshall to use, and that worked fantastic for Feather, and good for me! So I just ordered one for us, and I found a new home for the Barefoot.

Feather had great friends - Laney Humphrey's Dino and Feather rode together and were partners in crime - they did great together, and then Terri Tinkham's Oliver would get Dino and Feather to move faster. We had a great time on the trail together.

I have never done a ride like that before, but I will say it is a lot of strategy, organization, planning, and taking care of both your horse and yourself. Every night, I took a hot shower, I ate well, took my NCD drops and Agrigold and Joint formula from Waiora. My body felt great, I had very little stiffness and was able to get focused even in the worst of the weather conditions.

Photos can be viewed at: