Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Boot Saga Continues...

You'll remember how I ordered sizes 6 and 7 for Nimo in the Easyboot Bare to be able to try different fits without constantly ordering and sending back sizes.  It turns out that I should have ordered a size 5 too.  I tried out the size 6s on a short ride yesterday because it was immediately clear that the size 7s were waaaaayyyyy too big.  Because the Bares require adjusting before putting them on the hoof, I spent some time with a screw driver to adjust them down to the smallest they would go (based on the fact that if they were at a larger setting, they were clearly not tight enough).  This was no small feat because it was almost 80 degrees outside with literally 100% humidity (I am prone to exaggeration, but I looked this statistic up to be sure).  The simple act of turning a screw made me drip with sweat and wrestling the boots on made me want to keel over and die.  I hate August.

Anyway, I got the boots on.  They looked like this.  Please note that I later fixed the gaitor straps so they didn't look so wonky, although I definitely have more comments about them coming up.

I walked Nimo around in the boots to see how he would react.  He was totally fine.  And after having a brief conversation with myself debating the benefits of a gradual transition to the boots involving days of handwalking, lungeing, riding in the arena, and then finally taking Nimo out on the trail at increasing distances, the impatient part of me won.  I was scheduled to go on what I expected to be a fairly short ride of less than 5 miles on pretty decent footing with the Nokesville Horse Society, and I thought, "What a great way to try out the new boots!"  So, I left the boots on, loaded my horse up into the trailer and hauled him out to Silver Lake Regional Park in Haymarket, Virginia.

The ride went really well despite the fact that about 30 seconds after we started, I realized the boots were too big because I could hear them making sort of a flopping sound.  I had come prepared to take the boots off and just strap them to my saddle, so I figured at some point, they would come off and I'd pick them up.  In the meantime, several lovely people who sensed my possible stupidity for riding my horse with boots that were too big told me that my boots were too big.  "They aren't supposed to be making that sound," these lovely people said.  In fact, one lady made a point of telling me that several times throughout the ride.  I think she thought I would take them off immediately, and when I didn't, she must have thought I didn't understand what she was saying.  In fact, I wanted to see what my horse would do.  I paid a lot of money for him and I pay a lot of money every month for his care.  I try very hard to make sure he gets great food, lots of petting, and treats, and in return, every once in a while I expect a little research in return.

In this case, I wanted to see how he handled wearing boots on the trail, how he handled it when the boot came loose, how he handled me getting off and messing with the boots, and how a boot that was loose performed.  Here's what I found out.  My horse could have cared less about the boots.  Despite the fact that they were flopping around on his feet, he happily walked out and trotted energetically.  In fact, this was the fastest-paced organized ride we have been on this summer.  We did 4 miles in just over an hour and Nimo clearly could have gone faster.  Not quite my target pace, but much better, especially because the ride included a lot of really boggy mud that slowed us down frequently.

The boots stayed on for 3.75 miles before they came off.  That was through lots of trotting and crazy mud.  When one did come loose, it was easy to tell.  My horse was trotting and his gait drastically changed, but he absolutely did not freak out.  He just stopped.  I got off, retrieved the boot that had come off and took the other one off, which had actually turned around backwards.  Nimo was perfectly calm through the whole process, including when I had to hunt for a fallen tree or stump to use to get back on.  And, there were no rub marks or other signs of soreness or discomfort from the boots.

Overall, I thought the performance of the boots was pretty amazing, given that they were too big.  I suspect part of the reason they stayed on so long was because of the gaitors.  At one point, I looked down and it appeared that the straps had loosened somehow, and it wasn't long after that when the boots came off.  Here are my complaints about the boots.  First, they have to be adjusted BEFORE you put them on and you need two different screw drivers - a phillips to undo and retighten the adjustment screws on the outside of the boot, and a flathead to stick in between the boot and the hoof and the front of the hoof to check fit.  So, if you're on the trail and realize you need to make an adjustment, you have to take the boot off, undo screws and put the boot back on.  I realize you wouldn't need to do that often, but I can see that if you're breaking in new boots, you might have to do that a couple of times, especially if you're on a long ride.  Second, the bulk of the adjustment system is on the front of the boot and it is heavy.  That has got to unbalance the hoof in some way.  I'm assuming that is why the Easyboot Glove was invented, but of course, it isn't made in my horse's size.  Third, I hate the gaitors.  They are made of neoprene, which I dislike because of its heat-retaining properties.  They can't be adjusted tight enough to keep out debris.  And, I'm not sure what sort of pastern they were made to fit around, but it isn't anything remotely like my horse.  You saw in my picture how wonky the straps were.  That was how the material wanted to fit - at that weird angle.  Of course, that is not what the Easyboot brochure looks like at all.  But when I adjusted them like the picture, there was a huge gap behind the fetlock, which did not make me happy.

So, I'm going to send back all the unworn pairs of boots and order a smaller size in a different model to see how that works.  Because my horse seems so accommodating about the boots, I think if I can find some that fit him, we'll be in good shape.

Also, if anyone has any tips or advice they would like to share with me, except for, "The boots shouldn't sound like that,"  I would be happy to get it:)

1 comment:

  1. I love a horse with a good brain. :) The first time a boot came off of Dixie's hoof (but stayed on the pastern like a tiny monster) she gave one half-buck and kept pacing along til I asked her to stop.

    I've never used Bares, but I suspect when you get the right size for his hoof, the gaiters will fit his pasterns better.