Monday, December 20, 2010

In which we test the Ruby Slippers in mud, the creek, and the Big Thing

The sun was shining. Madeline and I had the entire day available. It was time to go test out those Ruby Slippers!

Mel sent me a link to the "cable adjustment" tutorial. I really appreciate the clear instructions and copious photos on the link, and I sat in front of the computer one night with my boots and a cup of tea and adjusted the heck out of those puppies!

Here's how they look now:

left front (above and below)
right front (wonky foot) below

front feet


both front feet--the "wonky" foot has the little garland stuck in so I could keep track in the photos!left rear (below)rear feet, side view (below)
The straps are much more manageable now, but I suspect that the left front actually needs a slightly smaller size. I will try one of the hind boots on that foot to see if it's an improvement for her.


Fiddle and her Ruby Slippers!Hana was happy to be groomed in the December sunshine.

Even with tons of Cowboy Magic on her mane, Hana gets horrible elflocks. I have to pull them out with my fingers every day or two.
"I'm ready for my saddle now, Madeline!"
Mads carried the camera most of the day, to document the trail conditions.

This trail (below) is a mucky mess, with deep mud on the flat sections and slick mud on the hills. Fiddle was very tidy with her feet, and didn't slip nearly as much as I had expected because she was being so careful. She took some funky steps at first, getting used to the feel of boots instead of steel shoes.
Through the creek. "Hey! Look at my red toes!" Maddy and I practiced the camera-pass midstream so I could get a photo of her and Hana in the pretty winter light.This section of trail has deep, abrasive sand.
And then....SUNSHINE! I love that stuff--it's so rare in the Swamp this time of year!

After about an hour of riding (walk/trot) through mud, sand, and gravel, we stopped to look at the boots.
Everything still stuck on pretty well--I didn't adjust a thing.
Then we did some trot-bys to get some pictures of the boots in action:
(Below) you can see the reason that we've had trouble keeping boots on.
Fee has a GIGANTIC overstride. Last year (wearing EasyBoot Gloves), the back boots would "scoot" off of her feet, and the front boots would get knocked off by her back feet. It was so frustrating!


Here's a video of Fiddle doing the trot that we call "The Big Thing":



Considering all the "action" involved in doing the Big Thing, I am lucky that her steel shoes stay on as well as they do. The video shows her moving out nicely, but this isn't nearly her top speed. She has at least two faster trotting gears, plus a pace and a canter!


(Knock wood), her feet are very strong and steel shoes stay stuck on beautifully. But will boots continue to stay on this mare's feet?


So far: YES!


Hana got to stand by and spectate while we took photos and videos of Fiddle and the boots.
Back at the trailer, the light is beginning to fail (at 4pm! Solstice is almost here!)

Front feet:
Back feet (she's standing like a goofball):


all four boots are in place. No twisted or spun boots either. Compared to the EasyBoots (I tried a couple different styles last year) the Renegade boots are significantly easier to put on, take off, and adjust. And, of course, they stay on.
You can see in the photo (above) that the parking lot is gravel. As soon as the boots were removed, Fiddle complained about the pointy stuff. She was "okay" on the gravel with the boots, but I can see that steel shoes are a more comfortable option on gravel--and we have a lot of gravel logging roads to ride.

This reinforces my observation that Fee is not a good candidate to be barefoot/boots in serious training or competition. I like the idea of a barefoot horse, but when idealism collides with reality, reality is always stronger. I won't choose a nice idea over a pain-free horse.

I know it works for a lot of horses. It would probably be a good choice for Hana, who walks just fine on the gravel with bare feet. Poor tender-toes Gigantor will be returned to shoes when we go back to a regularly conditioning program prior to the ride season.

Initial impression after one good ride:
Ease of application: A+
Ease of adjustment: B+ (wouldn't want to have to adjust the cables in the field because everything would be so muddy and nasty)
Stick-on-itivness: A++
Horse comfort: B+ (still not as much protection as steel shoes, but more protection than EasyBoots)
Attractiveness: C (no purple? srsly??? Maroon isn't purple, just like a Big Mac isn't a hamburger)
---------------------------------------------
Overall score so far: B+ Muddy boots!
Thanks, Mel, for all your help!

17 comments:

  1. Love the shots of Fee trotting along in her ruby red slippers! Too bad they don't seem like a permanent option for her, but you gotta do what's best for her.

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  2. Three cheers for boots that stay on! They look much better now. What a lovely day to ride too.

    I tried to pause the video, but never could get a good shot - does Fiddle paddle a bit? Every now and then Dixie does a Big Trot, but that's when she clips her front heel bulbs and decides she should do a Big Pace instead. I have never figured out how horses can do the Big Trot - unless they paddle a bit.

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  3. Pretty good performance by those boots - love the photos and video of the "big trot"!

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  4. Fee has a couple of things going on in the Big Thing:

    She does paddle her right front foot (the funky one). It doesn't move front/back in a straight line; there's an outside arc when she swings it forward. The other front foot moves straight front/back. When she's doing a collected trot, both front feet move straight front/back.

    When she's moving at any speed of trot (even a collected, dressage-y trot), she sinks her hindquarters down.

    When she's doing The Big Thing, her hindquarters are d-o-o-o-o-wn, and her rear feet land on the ground in front of and on the outside of her front feet.

    I'll try to draw her footprints doing the Big Thing, with R as her rear foot and F as her front foot:

    R
    F
    R
    F

    R
    F
    R
    F

    Crazy, huh?

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  5. Okay, the spacing on my "drawing of footprints" totally didn't work. I'll post it somewhere a different way!

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  6. It made perfect sense, Aarene. I think you can do a monospace blog post but not a comment... Trying to figure it out now :)

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  7. Got it. You need to put in extra spaces to indicate that her F's are inside the track of the R's, right? Use ampersand-n-b-s-p-semicolon (no dashes - just those symbols and letters) for each extra space you want. It's short for nonbreaking space, if that helps you remember it any better.

    So I can       add all the   spaces I want now!

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  8. The photo of her trotting towards the camera reminds me of the famous one of "Greyhound" under saddle, being paced by a horse galloping in a sulky...
    Now that's a BIG trot!

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  9. Rather than "go all code", I'm going to try my diagram a different way.

    LF = left front, RF = right front, LR = left rear, RR = right rear

    LR--------
    -LF-------
    --------RR
    -------RF-

    LR--------
    -LF-------
    --------RR
    -------RF-

    Still looks crazy...

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  10. ...and yes, The Big Thing is a standardbred thing. Greyhound did it. Dan Patch had such an "unscrewed" back end, he had to have specially-built shoes and sulkey to accomodate the wide swing.

    Moni Maker did it, too. Link to a great vid of Moni Maker here: http://bit.ly/hbTsPe

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  11. I need to get video of Ozzy doing his crazy standardbred trot. And speed racking. His speed racking puts many TWH's to shame.

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  12. Looks like Fiddle is really fun to ride! Love the big trot, I thought my Dazzby had a big one until I got behind you guys at Klickitat.
    I was talking to the lady at the trailer repair shop (hubby got me a new electric jack for x-mas) and she mentioned she might want to try doing an LD sometime. I just assumed she had the typical Castle Rock QH, but ends up she has a STB! I told her I've seen several doing endurance and hopes she gives it a try.
    Happy Solstice! Karen W.

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  13. Thanks for the great report! I'm tempted to try them. And I love Fee's gait, a Standardbred in full stride is a beautiful sight.

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  15. Wow! The video was incredible. No wonder she makes such a great endurance horse. She really moves out! And looks good doing it, too. You were having fun!

    It's too bad the boots won't work for her, though.
    I've got some questions about shoes because I've considered getting them for Apache if boots don't work for her on our rocky trails. I don't know many folks who use metal shoes on their horses, so I figure I'll ask you, if you don't mind.

    How do shoes protect the tender sole of a hoof from rocks and gravel? I can see how metal shoes control the wearing down of the hoof wall, and protect the hoof wall from chipping and cracking, but is the metal shoe tall/thick enough to protect the sole from large gravel and sharp rocks? Or do you also have to use some kind of pad, along with the metal shoe, to protect the sole?

    ~Lisa

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  16. WoW!!! That horse has a huge trot! Glad you are at least able to work out a scenerio for a spare tire should you need it. I keep dreaming of colored boots for my ride...~E.G.

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  17. I like the pic of you crossing the stream. She does look as if she's looking at her pretty shoes.

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