Friday, November 7, 2008

“You outta wear your Shotguns”

...was Tom’s advice when I pulled JB out of his pasture.

I had raced home from work because the sun was out and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to ride and stay dry. Around our place, the comment Tom made is code that your horse is a fire breathing dragon and it might be a good idea to have a little extra grip in the saddle. Shotguns are the western term for chaps ( if you haven’t figured that out already) and a few years back I ordered a pair from our saddle maker. At the time I was still riding a young hot headed Thoroughbred who was 16.3 hands. There were several rides back then that I needed a little extra grip. . Besides, my old English suede chaps were practically worn through at the time. If you link up to the site, you can also see my western wade saddle that I had Jeff build in 2004 – it’s the one called Heart 3, which happens to be the Acer Farm brand.

Tom’s advice about wearing my shotguns was resonating from that part of a husband that wants his wife to remain safe. While I always appreciate the concern and I could certainly see that JB was not going to be a muffin tonight, I wasn’t all that concerned, in fact, I prefer a little fire in him. It usually means he will have a lot of “go”, which is just what I was hoping for.

As I led him out of the pasture he pranced a bit on the end of the line and wasn’t overly interested in standing very still while I brushed the majority of the caked mud off .The daylight was already fading and I knew I didn’t have time to be fussy about the grooming tonight. I brushed off the caked mud where the saddle sits and left the rest. As long as it isn’t where the saddle or cinch are and cause discomfort when it grinds in, right?

I decided to heed Tom’s advice and struggled to zip up the cold, stiff shotguns. No helmet tonight as I had shipped it off for repairs on the broken strap. With any luck, the chaps would keep me from needing the helmet!?!

I headed out to the round pen for a quick pre-flight check. After about 15 minutes, I determined “all systems go” and climbed on. Tom and Cassidy joined me as we headed out down the road. JB settled into the known routine and willingly picked up an easy trot. The fire breathing dragon lay sleeping for now. Not wanting to sweat the horses up we trotted for about ¾ of a mile and then walked for about 10 minutes. The daylight quickly fading, I realized we would be lucky to get 2 miles in . JB appeared to be traveling much better now since he has had pads on. During our last limited distance competition in September, JB pulled up severely lame. At the time, we feared a broken coffin bone but x-rays revealed nothing of the sort. Turns out it was a bad stone bruise. Since then I have had to have pads put on him, allowing him protection while his sole healed and giving me the ability to continue to ride him without causing discomfort. (I know, pads fly in the face of barefoot trimming but I had to be logical and if it means my horse comfortable while he recovers, then I’ll do it)

Before we turned for home a biker passed us. As we made the turn, JB honed in on the biker like a raptor chasing down a wounded rabbit. Before I knew it, I was sitting on what felt like a rocket, JB’s hind legs churning underneath like a powerful 500HP vette engine, sending us down the road at warp speed with gravel spinning out behind us.

So… JB likes to chase things… that much I know from past cow chasing experiences …but a bike??? We have had bikers in front of us before but it was never so alluring to JB as it appeared to be tonight. All I can figure is that it must have been the red blinking safety light on the back of the biker that JB found so chase worthy. As we traveled down the road I was delighted to notice that Tom and his Morgan Cassidy, were approaching Morgan Road trot warp speed themselves but JB was still maintaining a few strides ahead. Before long, we lost sight of the blinking rabbit and continued our trot a bit longer before asking them down to a walk ¼ mile from home.

So the shotguns weren’t needed for extra grip and Tom’s concerns can be laid to bed. They did serve their other purpose and did well to keep my legs warm. The weather forecast for the next several days is crummy so they will likely get a dose of Chap wax in preparing for the cold wet riding weather.

This weekend JB will have his shoes and pads removed which means I won’t risk another stone bruise by trotting on gravel. Fast trotting down the road won’t be something we will be doing much of for a while .

Thanks blinking rabbit for making our last fast ride for the season exhilarating. Maybe we can be successful at this endurance racing afterall…..

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