In Which We Break a Scoot Boot Strap and Like It!
We had invited some folks to ride a 16 mile loop with us starting at the Goose Creek trailhead outside of Bozeman, MT. Our friends weren't able to make it so we revised plans and decided to start out from the Newman trailhead instead. Better to do this one without company as it was iffy whether the first section would be passable. We like starting here as there is a really nice creek at the trailhead. Here is the loop. We had thought we'd be motoring but ended up taking about 7 long hours to do about 19 miles. (I forgot to turn my GPS on at the start so missing a little bit of mileage)
There is a spot within the first 1/4 mile which is almost always washed out, which I didn't get a photo of, but we got through that and a few other more minor muddy spots:
As usual our Scoot Boots stayed on through the mud.
After a section along a creek bank, the trail goes across an absolutely stunning meadow (photos of the meadow on the way back later) and then to a gate that says "Leave Gate Open" but is closed, what to do?
This gate is the entry into the Many Downed Trees Woods. Arun was packing the silky saw but we were able to get around or over all the trees. It's a real pretty section of trail though:
Only the last tree required a little detouring:
Arun and Dakota were really good boys, just going over and around the logs without a thought. The trail then came out into open space, over a little bridge...
... across from the Trail Creek Cabin (which by the way, has a corral)...
...and onto the Bear Canyon Loop Trail, otherwise known as the Many Horseflies and Mudbogs Trail. Here is the mosquito and horsefly breeding pond:
It seemed like there was a muddy dip in the trail at least every hundred yards or so. Sticky slimy slippery clay mud. The horses stayed upright but I fell in a mud puddle myself giving Del a good laugh.
This mud puddle was made worse by ATVs continually driving in the same ruts, but for the most part the mud on this trail is caused by trail conformation, lots of shade, and clay.
We encountered several courteous cyclists and motorized users which we consider great training for our horses. Some ATVs were coming down the same trail we were going up with little room to get by. We went up a steep bank to let them by and I heard them say "Wow!". Proud horsemom moment :)
By around mile 6 a pinched nerve I've been dealing with really started to get bothersome. So we decided we'd take the 12 mile option instead of the 16 mile option. We first took a faded trail that turned out to be a dead end, but was fun. Arun did his first jump beautifully, over a log at a trot.
Then we tried a trail I have been riding for several years that cuts across the big loop through a heretofore open gate back to the Trail Creek Cabin. That gate is now locked, well harumph. We faced the decision a) Fence sabotage (just kidding) b) Retracing our steps back to the loop or c) following a trail we found on the GPS. We chose C. But the trail probably hasn't existed since the 60's. I dubbed this one the Big Hill Climb With Even More Downed Trees Trail. The only evidence it used to be a trail was this:
“BOUNDARY STOCK DRIVEWAY. SIGNS FACE TRAILS”
Driveway? I wish!
By this time Dakota was getting really tired of crossing logs. Especially uphill logs. I had to coax him across a few and tell him to step lively! He was dragging his feet across every one. He went over one actually using his ankle. Still the Scoot Boots stuck!
Finally we came back out onto the Bear Canyon Loop Trail. It was a nice surprise to see we'd at least bypassed the huge hill that is a part of the loop. That was a nice mile or so of shady single track, then a rocky down hill section and onto the Forest Service road part of the loop meaning about 3 more miles back to the Trail Creek Cabin. I got a bit of trotting in.
We got to the cabin, across the bridge, and onto the detour that avoids the big downed tree. I addressed my pain by laying flat on my back in a fabulous horsefly-no-fly-zone for a few minutes while we waited for Del and Arun to catch up..
Then back onto the Many Downed Trees Trail, where at almost the last downed tree, I encountered my first ever Scoot Boot "failure", which was not a failure at all. A bootstrap finally caught on something as Dakota was dragging his tired feet over yet another log:
It was totally uneventful. One side of the strap came off and I did not have extras on me (over confident I guess). I was able to just move the strap over one hole and continue on. I much prefer a strap breaking than some unbreakable or unfixable piece getting caught on something. The straps are cheap and super easy to replace. I would not hesitated to recommend another boot brand if Scoot Boots were not a good fit for a horse, but the simplicity is a real advantage to Scoots over other boots.
For example, to fix this you need a screw driver, a tiny alan wrench, a spare cable, a spare strap, patience, and the ability to not lose teeny tiny screws on trail (I used to just carry a spare):
And to fix this you need either a spare gaiter and some tools (screwdriver?), or if you're really ambitious, an awl and thread and time and patience.
Scoot Boot strap back on in two seconds with no tools needed, we proceeded through the not to be closed closed gate and back into the gorgeous meadow:
Finally at not 12 or 16, but almost 19 miles we were back at the trailhead and ready to untack. Untacking for both horses was made easier by the fact that 6 non-Scoot Boots untacked themselves more than a few times and were already hanging from the saddle rather than the feet, given up on a while back.
Scoot Boots, on the other hoof(ves), were fully caked in mud but still firmly in place. As usual, Dakota's feet are not pointing in the same direction. His feet are screwed on crooked, not the boots :)
Habits learned from endurance riding, I check his back, legs and feet after every ride. He's got some old scarring on his heel bulbs so I've wondered if the Scoot Boots would ever cause rubs, nope, all good!
Then off to the creek for a cool drink:
Rechecked feet the next day with the mud cleaned off, perfect!
On this foot you can see old scarring extending to his hoof on the right side of the photo. No rubs. It might just be the photo angle but his heel and hoof look oddly longer on one side so I'll need to check on that.
Another successful Scoot Boot experience, broken strap and all!