In which we try something different and the Ruby Slippers return

"I want to pull the Dragon's shoes for a month," said Mel.

The last time Fiddle was barefoot was 2010.   It was not a huge success*.  

2024 bare foot looks GREAT, especially for a Swamp Horse in winter!


The Ruby Slippers (Renegade boots, which were The Newest Thing in 2010) were my last attempt at having a barefoot/booted horse.  She went well in them at the time (2010 video by Madeline)

 but they were a PITA for me...

This is what happens to boots on a horse who exhibits "epic overreach" in her gaits, 2013

Mel knows a lot about horse feet.  "Probably she'll be able to muck around the tree farm barefoot during the mud season," she said.  "It's worth a try. Just for a month."

So, on Tuesday the Dragon became a (temporarily) barefoot horse again.  She is quite sound in the pasture, and was observed Rampaging several times yesterday while I was out of town at a work conference.

Ready to give it a try!

Today it was time to saddle up and try that mucking around thing.

Just in case, I brought the ol' Ruby Slippers with me

Heading south from the trailhead, I could tell that Fee wasn't enjoying the barefoot experience.

The track is mud/sand.  She kept steering herself out into the grass instead.

After about a quarter mile of riding the tip-toe ouchy walk, I gave up and put front boots on her.

Her right front foot was wider than the others in 2010, so that boot is a slightly different size.

Front boots were definitely better than none.  She spent more time in the center of the trail,

Track here is mud and small rocks

 but was still taking careful steps and not using her hind end engine very much.

Heavy sigh.

Four boots

I could easily feel the difference with four boots on. 

 She kept offering to trot, which she refused to do with feet uncovered.


She's still ouchy on roads, even with 4 boots.  And a lot of our winter tracks are roads.

And also...

I'm willing to concede that repeated strap failures might be operator error...

or the result of using 14-year-old boots.

I'm willing to work through a month of bare-footedness, but it's time to crowdsource more wisdom.

Do I need new boots?  Do I need a different type?  Just new straps?  

Or ????

Easy Boots absolutely will not stay on her feet--I had Garrett Ford personally video-chat me through the process of fitting them on her, and even he had to give up.  She has so much action, especially in her hind legs, that the stupid boots just kept flying away.

Her feet are nearly symmetrical now, with the 
right hind a smidge shorter front-to-back,
and the shape quite uniform

I might be able to get some used Renegades locally, which I would prefer since this is NOT going to be a long-term arrangement for us.  

The Ruby Slippers are size 2w, except the formerly-wonky RF which is size 2ww.  What size does she need now?  

The comment box is Wide Open and waiting for Wisdom!


  1. Ugh. Boots are, by and large, a giant pain. Even if they are a way to still ride while the hooves have some open air time. I've gone though Easyboots, Renegades, and now have Scoot Boots for rides during barefoot time. I like that there's no Velcro and they're easy to clean off at least.

  2. I had the WORST time with Renegades, despite working with two excellent fitters (Mel Newton and Ashley Wingert.) They would not stay on my TB's feet, and she didn't even have big action - she had a hunter type daisy cutter trot.

    Boot-wise, I have had far more luck with Scoot Boot Enduros on my current two gaited horses with tons of twist and action in their stride. But the biggest gamechanger for me has been composite glue-on shoes - they provide the same level of caudal hoof support that boots provide, which means the horse gets the therapeutic benefits of a boot when transitioning to barefoot, except the horse can comfortably wear them 24/7, which accelerates the process. For me, they tend to come out of composites and into barefoot so much more smoothly than when trying to transition from steel open heeled shoes.


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