EARLIER THIS MONTH, parent and equestrian coach Katie Salmon-Newton accompanied four Peninsula 4-H intermediate performance riders — Clallam County 4-H winners — to the Western Washington competition in Puyallup.
There, she tells me, “the kids had a lot of fun together, putting forth good effort while facing some tough competition.”
They partnered up with three other counties to share barn duty and in the process made some good friends.
Colby Rentas’ horse, Sassy, didn’t feel well, so he only got to compete in showmanship, where Colby was able to garner a blue ribbon.
Haylie Newton and Timber did quite well in stockseat, earning a blue.
She assures me all the youths “were great ambassadors for Clallam County.”
■ Showmanship — Colby, blue; Rachel Hendry, red; Hailey, red; Emily Menshew, red.
■ Huntseat — Hailey, red; Emily, white.
■ Trail — Hailey, red; Emily, white.
■ Stockseat — Hailey, blue; Emily, white; Rachel, white.
■ Herdsmanship — Colby, Emily, Hailey and Rachel all received blues.
My Indy — I love him to pieces, but he can be a bit of a scalawag at times.
We’ve been together 10 years now; he came into my life at 4 months old as a package deal when I bought his mother, Lacey, so we are very familiar with each other.
For the most part, he trusts me and does what I ask him, and for the most part, I trust him — but not implicitly.
Here’s why: My niece Ashley Griffiths flew up for a surprise visit and last Monday wanted to go on a trail ride, with her riding Lacey and me Indy.
A potential problem was I had had their shoes pulled the week before for the winter.
I pulled them early, thinking I wouldn’t be riding for a while because the first week of this month, I had reconstructive surgery on my left middle finger, resulting in a hand splint for six weeks.
The shoeless problem should have been solved by putting the horse “sneakers” on, but in this case, the Old Macs failed me because, as it turned out, they were too old.
Last year, the rear set of Indy’s Old Macs broke, and I replaced them with Renegade Hoof Boots.
This year when his front set broke, friend Stephanie Jaffe loaned me a pair of Easy Boot Epics with Gaitors that were too big for her horses, so if they worked for Indy, I was going to buy them.
Her Epics were a very tight fit for Indy’s large feet, but I managed to get them on. Better yet, he liked them.
Not knowing Lacey’s Old Macs were about to break, I put them on, and Ashley and I rode out to the Cassidy Creek trails adjacent to my home.
Well, halfway through the 1½-mile ride — and in the midst of wooded trails — first one boot broke, then another, and by the time we got back on the logging roads, the last boot broke.
All the breakage looked as if it were caused by the rubber becoming aged through the years, which apparently weakens rubber. Who knew?
Well, I do now.
So, because Lacey had had shoes on the past nine months, the soles of her feet were very tender.
Now, with no boots to protect her from the rocks on the DNR road, she was very tenderfooted and limped in pain.
Ashley dismounted to walk Lacey home.
Then, the gentle mist we were riding through began to pour down as if a giant bucket of cold water was being poured over us from heaven.
I don’t tolerate cold well and started shivering.
Trotting on home
My very capable and adept niece urged me to trot Indy home to get warm.
After a bit of arguing, I agreed. After all, we were less than a mile from home.
Well, Indy trotted ahead at my urging, but I could tell he wasn’t happy leaving his mama behind.
He’d hesitate, stop and look behind until I urged him on again.
When we got to the bottom of our 450-foot driveway, he really didn’t want to go farther without his mama, but again, he let me urge him on.
About halfway up, some family friends came up behind us in their minivan.
To Indy, this van was now blocking him from his mama, and for the last 150 feet up the drive, my very powerful 16-hand boy turned into a bucking bronco.
First, he gave a massive lurch forward and sideways, then some serious bucking.
Then, I saw first one Epic, then another fly high into the air in front and to opposite sides, then more lurching and bucking — and me trying to stay on with, because of the splint, just my ring and pinky fingers on the horn and my right hand flailing in the air holding the reins.
Because of cramping muscles, I’d been riding with my left foot out of the stirrup and dangling, which I think is the main reason I stayed on: I was able to clamp my legs tight to his belly.
So hooray to me, I say today, because I stayed on the full eight-second ride!
I don’t know who was more surprised, Indy or me.
I know I earned his respect by staying on.
The biggest surprise to me was, “How in the world did he get both boots off his front hoofs?”
Safe and sound
Ashley arrived home safe with Lacey, so all’s good in the world.
Now I just have decide which type of hoof boots to buy.
If they didn’t stay on Indy’s bucking, I doubt the Epic would stay on trudging through the mud.
On a ride last year, a piece of metal wire on the Renegades caught on a twig, pulling the wire out and thus causing the boot to fall off.
I didn’t have the proper tools to put it back together on the trail when there was snow on the ground, so I don’t think I will purchase any more. The search is on.
■ Saturday-Sunday — Back Country Horsemen Peninsula chapter’s annual Muller/Littleton Horse Camp ride, potluck and work party, with a 10 a.m. rideout Saturday, followed by potluck at 5 p.m.
Follow U.S. Highway 101 to 3 miles west of Lake Crescent and turn right at the Littleton/Mount Muller sign. Phone Dave Seibel at 360-640-9472.
■ Freedom Farm events next month:
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5 — Harvest Celebration Farm Tour.
Oct. 19 — Freedom Farm jumpers-only series show.
Noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 20 — Cowmanship class.
Noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 27 — Adult horsemanship class.
Freedom Farm is located at 493 Spring Road in Agnew.
To sign up, phone Mary Gallagher at 360-457-4897.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Wednesday.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.