Death Valley XP ’17: Lessons from the Trail

Last year after after 4 days on 4 different horses at Death Valley XP I shared some of my favorite Survival and Comfort Items while catch riding a multiday. This year I’ve already pretty thoroughly covered how we pin-balled through multiple vehicular malfunctions, so it seemed timely to now share some things learned/confirmed while riding the same horse for 50 miles for multiple days.

FB_IMG_1515107925345Bring All the Things…   Kenny has never needed splint or fetlock boots before in our mileage together and I rarely have ever used them with any horse, but I’ve been packing both types of leg protection boot for years now. This ride this habit proved invaluable, when at lunch of the Day 2 50 miler I noticed that Kenny, naturally knock kneed/toed out on the front with an inward swinging movement, had given himself a knick on his left front with his right front. I made it a point to run back to the trailer to grab the fetlock boots before we left on the second loop, and when on a pee break I saw the interference mark freshly disturbed, on went the fetlock boots. Kenny wore them the rest of the 150 miles, barefoot and booted, and there were no further issues.


I also got very lucky in the Bring All Things regard, because when transferring gear from my rig to T’s, my husband threw in an extra saddle pad that I hadn’t planned to bring. It was a green Coolback pad with a 3+” longer flap than the barrel pad Woolback we usually use, and it too proved vital when I noticed that Kenny had a spot of rubbed off hair right where his clip started/pad ended, where the leather billets ran. I have never had any sort of rub on Kenny before in 50 milers with this clip, but this was a multi-day that crossed mountains, so possible issues were handily revealed! The pad my husband had unwittingly included proved to be perfect under the Specialized and covering the rub spot, and there were no were further issues.


..Plus Back ups! While I had covered my boot-gluing failure by bringing Hoof Armor, Easyboot Gloves, and Renegades, I quickly discovered how shallow your pool of supplies can run on a challenging multi day. I used the most tolerated Easyboot Gloves on Kenny’s fronts for the mountain crossings and he went bare in the sandy valleys, for reasons such as this: when still Gloved and loosed into cheery higher gears in the valley after endless walking down a mountain, Kenny flung off a front boot. This was discovered later in camp, along with the revelation that a brand new hind sized Glove had also leapt off the back of my saddle somewhere on trail.


I quickly went from 4 of his most tolerated boots to 2, and one was technically the wrong size. Fortunately, Kenny’s fronts are only a half size larger than his hinds and Gloves are supposed to fit snugly, so I managed to get the remaining hind Glove onto his front for the remainder of the 50 Day 2. Then, on our rest day, it was revealed that a friend had picked up the Kenny flung front Glove and the Duck had picked up the brand new hind Glove somewhere on trail!  Lucky me, but, sparesies of what you know work are certainly essential on long-and-multi-day rides!


Feed them What They’ll Eat, Mostly: Kenny slurps down wet mashes with relish at home but will completely shun the same recipe when on the road. I have wasted a lot of extra groceries accepting this fact! He will eat up dry rations (LMF Super Supplement, a handful of something tasty, powdered electrolytes) like they’re the best ever, and drink greedily afterward. Okay, dry rations at rides it is, for the most part, though I’ve also discovered he likes soggy beet pulp and whole oats at rides, too (he isn’t impressed by the same at home). T and I had a wide variety of basic, healthy feed (whole oats, alfalfa/grass pellets, LMF SS, black sunflower seeds, stabilized rice bran pellets, carrots, apples) and four different types of hay which ensured both steeds, Arabian and non, ate with relish the entire trip.


There is always more to learn on the endurance trail and multi-days sure are great prep for larger goals ahead!

Thoughts? Questions? Go!

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