Thursday, December 16, 2010

In which Fiddle isn't sure if her new Ruby Slippers are magic

Look what Santa's helpers brought me this week:
A pretty set bright-red of Renegade Hoof Boots! (They don't come in purple, which is a pity).
Blog-friend Mel is a Renegade Boot sales rep, and at my request she created a boot rental program. My experiences with booting last winter were mixed, and I am reluctant to spend a bunch of money on boots again.

(I want to emphasize that my bad experiences last year with EasyBoots was not the fault of the Easy Care Company. On the contrary, I found the customer support staff at Easy Care to be helpful, knowledgeable and extremely proactive in the attempts to help me fit my mare with the right kind of boots! However, the boots just would not stay on, due in part to the shape of Fiddle's feet and her gigantic stride. I finally called the farrier and asked for steel shoes to be put back on Fiddle, and that was the best decision I could have made for the circumstances).

However, I try not to be one who expunges the infant with the cleansing fluid.


Therefore, when Mel suggested that I try the Renegades, the only thing holding me back was the money. So, she created a rental program for people like me who want to try the boots without committing to a huge expenditure. She also helped by figuring out what size boots I probably need, since I am clearly not a math major!


Cool.

Fiddle got her steel shoes off today, and as soon as the farrier was finished, she ran herself into the muddiest spot on the property. Ewww.

Left front foot cleaned of mud (below)Left hind foot (below)

Right hind (above) and right front (below)The right front is Fiddle's "wonky" foot--it tends to grow at a steeper angle, and is a distinctly different size and shape from the other three. As always, the farrier grunted and groaned while removing the shoes and trimming Fiddle's feet; the foot is very strong and hard, but her soles are too tender to be a comfortable-barefoot-on-the-rocky-trails horse.
And so: ruby slippers for Fiddle!
The left front boot has a lot of strap left over when the boot is on--and it's not even snugged up really tightly. Do I need a slightly smaller size? I did lower the heel captivator after taking this picture, and that used up some of the strap, but there's still quite a lot of flapping.

The instructions emphasize that the pastern straps should NOT be tight. I've got two fingers in there, and it's still not tight.
front feet (below)See all that extra strap, especially on the left front? The right front foot is bigger than the left front, so I think that boot fit better. Maybe a smaller size for the left front? It's hard to be sure.(above) front feet + ruby slippers.

(below) rear feet + ruby slippers.
Again, a fair amount of excess strap. Am I just rigging it incorrectly?
The whole horse + ruby slippers.

The Renegade website clearly warns not to tie the horse while putting boots on for the first time, but since Fiddle and I messed around with EasyBoots for months last winter, I wasn't worried. It was not an issue.

The whole horse + silly bridle from last weekend + saddle + ruby slippers.
I didn't have the tow vehicle at home today, and didn't want to go far on our first test-ride anyhow, so Fee and I just went down the road a couple of miles. Last year , wearing the wrong-size EasyBoot Gloves, we travelled less than a quarter mile. This year (with darkness falling at 4pm!) we went about a mile out and a mile back at a walk and trot without any lost or loosened boots. Those flapping straps really bug me, though.
I noticed that Fee's stride is slightly different from her usual (shod) stride. It's a little shorter, and a little more "gaited". I think she moves more carefully on the gravel road with boots than she does with steel shoes. I'm not sure yet if that is because the boots feel different, or because they don't have such a quick breakover in front--her steel shoes are set back and her toes are rolled to allow her front feet to stay out of the way of the strong impulsion push from her hind feet. Or perhaps she's just not used to boots yet. Time will tell.
Even with new boots, the sun setting fast, the temperature dropping like a cast-iron rock, and Hana down in the pasture hollering her head off for her friend, Fiddle is clearly not stressed out.
Ruby slippers + mud. A beautiful thing?
Time will tell!