I have a sensitive princess mare. Do you know the type? Hates to get wet, doesn’t like to get dirty, is very expressive about what she thinks her minions (humans) should or should not being doing, etc. And she loves shoes (aka hoof boots)…lots of them. Her collection of Easyboots is vast and takes up two gear bags! She has winter mud boots (Easyboot Gloves with studs), summer boots (Gloves without studs), gravel/rock running boots (Easyboot Bares converted to the Epic buckle system with dome pads), black boots, red boots, Back Country boots, all in multiple sizes depending on if her feet are wet and bigger/dry and smaller, trimmed/untrimmed, etc. At least she is not into purses, right? She also shows her sensitive side in that she loves her padded boots, especially if the footing is not 100% ideal and may have some rock or gravel in it. She does ok in her Gloves, but really moves so much bigger and carefree when she has her padded Bares on.
I have always had the thought in the back of my mind, that I would like to have more frog stimulation in boots. The flat surface inside can mean not enough frog stimulation, unless they are really big, healthy, dropped down frogs. Sadly, many of our horses do not have awesome frogs, and the only way to get them is by stimulating them with lots of movement/ground contact. The best way to get this, is to ride in padded boots, especially dome pads if the horse tolerates them (I have met a few with thin soles, or painful frogs, that find dome pads to be too much pressure). I love the simplicity of the Glove though, and the fact that she never interferes in them which she does occasionally with her hinds when wearing Bares. I always wondered if I could just put dome pads in the Gloves. I decided a new one was out of the question since it took up half the space in the boot, and I highly doubted they would stay on. So then I thought about taking some older, already squashed down ones out of my current padded boots – that looked much better. Then the testing began. First I went on a trail ride, mostly on flatter terrain with decent footing and mostly walking with some light trotting. I applied Mueller athletic tape to the hooves as I suspected the boots would not stay on otherwise.
That experiment was a success, with the boots staying on and in place (no twisting). I did this a few more times, adding a bit more trotting, some cantering, and a little more distance. Then I decided to them on a 35 mile training ride in Redwood National Park. This involved a good amount of elevation change, mud, creek crossings, downed branches, and a decent amount of trotting and a little cantering. Of course when we were all tacked up and ready to go, I realized I had forgotten to tape the boots – I decided it would be a good experiment to see what happens. So I stuffed a role of tape into my saddle pack and off we went. Sure enough, once up the fist two miles and a long, really big hill, we stopped for an evaluation at a nice, grassy spot. Boot fail – all four had twisted.
Front (left) and hind (right), you can see the gaps left by the twisting.
So out came the tape, and the boots went back on (after much ado about finding the right rock to smack them on with). Then off we went again to continue our ride. Every now and then I would check them, but they did not budge. I had quite a good time riding the beautiful redwoods that day, with my friend Jo on her horse Beetle. Beetle also uses Gloves or Epics with pads, and has been developing much nicer frogs.
Eowyn taking a snack break.
It sometimes felt like a fairy world…tree blossom petals all over and little wild flowers blooming all around.
The majestic Redwoods towering above us.
The traditional picture spot, a burnt out redwood tree is big enough for horse and rider!
One of my favorite trees in the park. Its roots grew over an old redwood stump.
After eight hours on the trail, and taping them up after the first fail, the boots worked great all day. In fact, I almost had to break out the screw driver to pop them off. This has been a reoccurring theme when I tape Eow’s Gloves. My next experiment (without pads) is to tape only with power straps and no gaiters…
I love how the dome pads take on the shape of the bottom of the foot. It fills in all the hollow spaces, moves away from the loaded ones, and supports everything, much like how dirt would naturally fill in the hoof. Compare it to one of the ‘dirt pads’ I often find in Eow’s paddock.
If you’d like to check out the “Fairy Woods” too, our local endurance club, Redwood Empire Endurance Riders, host a ride there every year. This year we will be having it in September. Come on out and join us! http://redwoodendurance.com/