Monday, May 26, 2008

Easyboots - Serts

Almost every winter, I remove Tanna's shoes and start fiddling with Easyboots. This accomplishes a couple of things. First and foremost, Tanna's hooves get a break from the constant nails and steel on his feet. While I don't think shoes are "evil," I do think it's a great idea to let the feet recover and rest.

But I don't want Tanna to rest too terribly much. Living in TN, I get to ride most of the year and I like keeping Tanna fit so I don't have a big ramp-up in the spring before starting endurance rides. So Easyboots provide a nice way to protect Tanna's feet on those conditioning rides in the winter.

I've had some success riding Tanna in longish rides of 20 - 30 miles in 4 Easyboots. As the mileage goes up, so does the chance and reality of rubbing, despite my best efforts. That's ok, though, enough for really good training rides in the winter. So I reshoe for our competitions of 50 miles.

However, Serts is my older, lazier horse. I have been riding him on and off since last fall and would like him to do at least one LD ride this year. I've had him shod since fall, but it occurred to me that since I can get 20 - 30 miles of good riding on Tanna in Easyboots, I might try that approach with Serts.

Last week, I asked my farrier to remove Serts' shoes and I promptly ordered 2 size 3 Easyboot Bares from ValleyVet.com. They arrived on Friday and I was able to use them for the first time yesterday.

The gaiter style is new this year. They have fabric instead of faux leather along the back of the boot. The new gaiter is very nice.

Here is a picture of an older Bare and Epic with the older gaiter style.


And this is the new Bare gaiter.

New Gaiters

Another difference I noticed was that the heel strap was pre-cut for my convenience. I have always found it better to cut down the heel strap on Tanna's easyboots. I usually would cut Tanna's down a little further, even, but my plan for the first ride was just slap the boots and and make adjustments later if there were problems.

The boots went on pretty easily, leading me to tighten up the bungee on both sides of both boots. The boots still seemed a little loose, but size 2 would have been too small. I might have to vet wrap his feet to make a better fit.


I rode Tanna and ponied Serts so I could watch how Serts moved (and to get a ride in on Tanna in the Specialized!). We went 7 miles in 80 minutes. Serts did pretty well with the boots. It took him awhile to figure out how to move in the boots and he was reluctant to canter in them. I really think they might be too loose for him. I worried that he was being rubbed.

Here are the boots after riding.

Serts - After riding

When I removed the boots, I found clean feet with no rubs.

Serts - After riding

The backs of his pasterns after riding. You can see a bit of blood on his right front. That is not from the gaiter. He has a small bit of scratches or something similar and I picked at it and it started bleeding.

Serts - After riding

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with the first foray into boots with Serts. Have to give him some more exposure to the boots.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Better Fit

I think I've finally got a good fit on Tanna. At least the prelim shows a better fit than I've seen so far.

I set the shims up by removing the rear shims altogether. I left the front shoulder thin wedge shims. I added a 1" wide strip of thin flat shim to the middle of each bar, right up close to the spine. See photo.

A Better Fit Shim Set Up

I went out for my normal trial ride and got the following sweat pattern. Looks pretty good.

A Better Fit: Sweat Pattern

Here is the sweat pattern from the sides. Hard to see in these angles, but the sweat pattern looks very nice.

Left Side:
Left Side Sweat Pattern

Right Side:

The white flour cloth sack pattern is better than the last trial. Today's shim set is on the right. Last pattern is on the left.

Compare White Cloths

I'm pretty happy with the progress. I can't imagine that I won't keep fussing with this (maybe add some shimming behind the shoulder; and a little at the right loin), but I think I can safely saddle up and go for some serious training rides now.

Another Spec Trial

The next test of the Specialized saddle was on Tuesday, May 20. Last Sunday, I was visiting family and didn't have the opportunity to play with the saddle.

After talking with a Spec saddle fitter, I made a few adjustments to the shims on the Specialized.

We cut off a bit on the left rear shim and shifted the shim away from the spine a hair. Then we moved the right rear shim toward the pommel and added a thinner wedge shim perpendicular to the first shim from the back.

As an added bonus, we also cut fuller flat shims to fill in the space by the stirrup leathers. We had the thinner flat shim from our new shim kit. Seems we only got the fat thin shims with the saddle.

Here is the new shim configuration:

Shim Configuration

Here is a picture of Tanna's back.


Here he's all saddled up with just a white flour sack cloth. I've numbered the cloth to be able to compare it to the previous cloth.


After the 17 minute ride (following the same pattern as my other test rides), I saw some sweat on the loins and the shoulder. Seems like bridging to me.


Here's a picture of the dirt pattern from the left side. I've put the cloth on upside-down to better see the pattern.


Here are the white cloths side by side. The one on the left was the first white cloth test. The one on the right is the one from this particular shim set-up.


Have to play around with the shims and try something else.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Specialized Saddle

Our next trial with the Specialized Saddle (15" Trailmaster with English rigging) was to place thick wedge shims at the back of the saddle and thinner wedge shims at the front of the saddle. The we did several test rides using the same shim set up. All the pictures from this blog entry have the shims set up like the following picture.

Shim Setting

Our first test was a short walk/trot uphill/downhill test with the Port Lewis Impression Pad (PLIP).

The next two pictures show the PLIP after that ride.


Still seeing bare spots through the shoulders.


Our next test was a 15 - 20 minute ride that included uphill/downhill/flat and walk/trot/canter. This time we used a flour sack cloth under the neoprene pads.

The following pictures are from that test. We turned the cloth upside down for pictures so the dirt pattern on the left side is actually from the ride side of Tanna and vice versa.

Flour Sack - Left side

Flour Sack - Right Side

Flour Sack

The next day, I did a test. 9.5 miles in 90 minutes. Walk/trot/canter. Mostly flat terrain. A typical training ride from the house. I saddled him up with a woolback oversized round barrel pad (aka an endurance pad). 22" mohair string girth. The next pictures come from that ride.

This picture shows him saddled and ready to go. You can see where the girth comes to on him.

Specialized Saddle

The woolback pad after the ride. You can see the imprint of the billets and the connection of the billets to the flap.

Woolback Pad

This is the sweat pattern on the loins after the ride. It's different. I don't know which one is better or if they're both bad.

Sweat Pattern

Here's another view with more of the back shown.

Sweat Pattern

Still not sure about the shoulder set up and the differences in the sweat pattern in the loins seems to indicate something is out of whack there, too.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Due to some helpful advice from the Specialized Yahoo Group, we're going to work on the shoulder issue with the saddle where the Impression pad showed clear through.

We brought the saddle in and put some shims on the middle starting behind the motion of the shoulder. We used the flat shims. I'll have to double check on Tanna to be sure the shim is in the right place and do another test ride with the Impression pad.

Bottom view of the shims:
Mid-bar shims

Side view after the neoprene pads were put back on.
Side view of shims

Trailmaster Fitting

At Chicken Chase, we had some issues with my Specialized Trailmaster saddle causing back soreness and side swelling on Tanna. Showing me I definitely need more analysis before our next endurance ride.

Tanna was given two weeks off after his rides at Chicken Chase and today Daniel and I set aside some time to work on the saddle. The first thing we did was pull off the shims we'd put at the back of the saddle on both sides. Tanna was sore there after the Sunday 50 at Chicken Chase. Then we put the saddle on without a pad, girthed it up and I hopped on. Daniel looked at the saddle with me in it and I looked at what I could. We agreed it looked pretty good without any shims.

Next we saddled him up with the Port Lewis Impression pad.

Saddled up with an Impression Pad

I went for a 15 minute ride. Up hill, down hill, walking, trotting and cantering. When I got back, the impression looked pretty good, except for the shoulders where it appears his natural motion pushed the putty away from his shoulder blade.

Right Side After Ride

However, we could see where the billets attach to the flap were already causing a rub on him, even after just 15 minutes. Course, there was no pad there, either.

Side Rub

Since everything looked ok, we saddled him for a training ride. I used my Equipedic pad, like I had used for the Trace Tribute trail sessions. I realized that that was one of the differences between the trial rides and the endurance rides. So I decided to go back to the Equipedic. No inserts.

Saddled Up

Then I went for a 12 mile training ride. Sweat pattern looked good and no sign of swelling or heat in his sides. This is just the first test in a line of tests. I plan to ramp up the mileage over the next several weeks leading up to our next endurance ride.

I ordered a Toklat woolback endurance pad and if that comes this week, I'll likely switch over to using that. I like woolbacks and if the woolback will work, that's my preferred pad since it breathes, washes well and they last forever.

I'll keep reporting back as I do further tests.