In which Fiddle tests out new hoof boots and we are underwhelmed by them
Until recently, there was only one kind of EasyBoot:
They called it "the EasyBoot." This was the days before Epics and Edges and Grips and Glue-ons. There was just the one color, and just the one style, and it came in several sizes. The size you used on your horse was the same size shoe you would put on the horse.
These old boots were a pain in the tailfeathers to put on and take off. They scraped up the outer hoofwall if you didn't squash down the little teeth inside the boot and they were likely to zing off into the bushes or slorp off in deep mud and be lost forever if you did squash down the little teeth inside the boot.
I measured her feet carefully. She takes a size 1 horseshoe on all four feet, but the steel shoe must be widened significantly to fit her round feet. Steel horseshoes are hand-fitted to each foot, so even when a horse wears a size 1 shoe, the shape of her foot might be significantly different from the shape of another size-1-wearing horse. Steel is flexible, and a good farrier is vital to preparing and fitting shoes to each individual horse's foot. I love my farrier!
I compared the size and shape to the chart provided by EasyCare, and I saw a good match with the size 3 Easyboot Glove, so I ordered a set.
These boots promised to fit well, be much easier to take on-and-off than the old style EasyBoot, and the ankle straps would keep them in place and prevent them from zinging off into the bushes.
Here's the video produced by EasyCare showing the boot:
Looks great, huh? Looks EASY, doesn't it?
So, why were we underwhelmed? There were a lot of reasons!
To start with, it's not that easy to put them on. Why is my experience different from the experience of the nice fellow in the video? Here's my theory:
* He was demonstrating this boot on a fine warm day
* Here, by contrast, it is not warm. It's downright COLD!
* The material in this boot is NOT nearly as pliable in a cold environment as it is in a warm environment.
I did get them on, finally.
They are easier to put on than the old-style EasyBoots, and they don't have cables to cut up my hands. However, the stiff rubber did not want to stretch over Fiddle's foot.
Finally: got 'em on!
Ready to head out!
Fee was surprised to feel the straps around her pasterns. She did a few high steps, and then figured out that they weren't hurting or impeding her, so she started walking like a normal horse again.
I was pleased. I looked forward to our ride.
I looked back at her when I led her through the gate (about 20 strides from where I took the last photo) and saw this:
Uh, left-front boot?
I took the boot off (they are easy to take off!) and put it back on (still not as easy to put on as the video would have you believe). Tight fit is essential to the fit of this boot...and tight fit + cold plastic = a small struggle to get it on again.
Okay. Four feet pointed forward again!
Fiddle patiently snacks on grass while I fix her boot and take photos.
Off we go, down the road! The sound of booted feet on our country road made a nice little thock-thock-thock-thock-noise.
"Nice," I thought. Fiddle was striding out properly, not tiptoeing forward the way she does when her feet are tender.
Less than a quarter mile later of walking on our country road, the sound changed to a thock-thock-thock-thwap sound.
I looked down: one boot was sideways on her foot.
I hopped down, took the boot off, put the boot back on, made sure the pastern straps were a little more secure, hopped back up and proceeded forward. Thock-thock-thock-thock.
"Nice," I thought.
Less than a quarter-mile later: thock-thwap-thwap-thock.
Both boots on the right side were flapping around her pasterns.
I hopped down, took the boots off, put the boots back on, adjusted the straps, hopped back on and proceeded forward.
You know what's coming next, don't you?
Less than a quarter-mile later: thwap-thwap-thock-thwap.
Three boots flapping, one boot securely in place.
Fiddle happily ate grass and wondered what the point of this exercise could possibly be while I pulled all the boots off her feet
and attached them securely to her breast collar.
Then, I hand-walked her carefully home, rode her barefoot in the pasture for a little while, and then let her eat grass in the backyard while I examined the boots. Three were in good shape, but the fourth
had a little part tearing loose between the boot and the strap.
Total distance covered: less than a mile.
Total satisfaction rating: totally not satisfied.
I recognize that some people have been very happy with these boots--their testimonials convinced me to try them. Personally, I consider the entire trial an expensive failure.
I plan to send a link to this blog post to the EasyCare company, with hopes that they will endeavor to make me a happy customer again. I'll let everyone know how that turns out.
EDIT: before I could send a note to EasyCare, Garrett Ford (prez of the company) contacted me via the "comments". I call that good customer service! I will keep everyone posted on our progress to re-boot my mare.