"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo



Monday, April 7, 2014

Easyboot Gloves Fail

I'm going to start this post saying that I am a Renegade girl through and through. I'd been eyeing the Renegades since I first started Lily barefoot almost 2 years ago and was very happy with my experiences with the boots up until Lily outgrew them. She went up a full boot size over the winter with all of our barefoot mileage. So, if you want your horse's puny feet to get larger, just ride them barefoot all over the place. It only took 3 months of 30 miles/week for Lily's entire hoof capsule to expand!

Sport orange all the way, baby.
Lily models her Renegades. 
We already have our front pair of Renegade Vipers and our hind pair of Renegade Vipers are in the mail and should arrive any day now, so I'll be keeping you guys posted on how she does with all 4 Vipers, since we have to do a trial run on them.

In the meantime, you're supposed to have extra boots as backups. I originally was just going to get 2 pairs of Renegades, probably used, but ended up deciding to go the Easyboot Gloves route. Why? First of all, Liz let me borrow Q's backup Gloves for a couple of weeks and they had held up really well on Lily's hinds. They stayed on through the terrain of our trails, so I knew they worked with her hoof shape. Second, they are $20 less/boot and are supposed to fit better if they are tight, unlike Rennies which fit better if there is a little bit of extra room. If Lily outgrows the Rennies again, I'd hopefully be looking at just replacing the Rennies, not the backup boots as well, at least for a while, since they do stretch out with use.

Lily ended up being a size 1 in Gloves all the way around, except for her slightly smaller left front, in which she takes a 0.5. You get the same price in the boots whether you order them in fun colors or not, so I got them in blue. With orange power straps. I figured with the kind of terrain we have out here, she'd need them.

Cute, right?
Well, the power straps were a B*TCH to get on. This is all it took:


Not illustrated: the electric drill and the man (Charles). We could not get either one of those hole punchers to punch through the material of the boot itself. The hole punch on the right I got from Amazon for $10 -its actually a really good quality hole punch, and it did a GREAT job of punching through the harder plastic of straps. Piece of cake. But the material of the boots is more flexible (hence why they stretch and why you should get the smallest size that will fit your horse) and would give when squeezed with the punch. I refused to go out and buy a $50 Herm Sprenger leather punch, which btw is what they use in the instructional video on how to install these things. Yeah, that's why it looks so easy.

I drilled the initial holes with the electric drill, made them larger by poking a knife through them, then slid a screwdriver tip through them and cut off the excess to make an actual hole.

Like so
Since the material is rubber-like, it gives: making holes with even the reasonably largest drill bit left a tiny pinpoint hole as large as the tip of the bit with shredded material around it that still made it really hard to push the back of the screw through the hole. This system above worked perfectly though. It only took us a few hours to figure it out...

Once those were installed, I had to do a trial run.

The boots were a b*tch to get on as well, but that's how they are supposed to be. More points for Rennies, which only require two Velcro straps to take on and off...

What I didn't like is that the power straps, while making the boot a little smaller, also make it a little flatter. If you have a TB with flat pancake feet, these boots with power straps will work great. Lily's feet however, are not flat and pancakey anymore, so the straps actually seemed to affect fit. Grumbling about having to remove the straps after the supreme effort it had been to get them on, I left the boots on as is and tacked up. I thought maybe they'd stretch with use, right? And then they'd be perfect, right?

Lily and I did the back loop once with Phoebe and Kathy at the walk, then again with just Kathy, also at a walk. Since Lily was fired up, I decided to do the back loop one more time solo at trot & canter. Of course the boots stayed on during 6 miles at a walk. The real test would be at the trot and canter.

Well, the Percheron stallion over at the soybean farm had been put away by then, so I decided to just take Lily out in that direction and let her do as she pleased on the dirt roads of Four Corners. I wanted to see if she'd be as forward as she'd been with Q, and this way we could get some good trots and canters on nice flat footing over undulating terrain.

I noticed that Lily, while more confident in the boots than barefoot, was not as confident in the Gloves as she is in the Renegades. It took her a while to really start stepping out in them, I'm guessing as they stretched and fit on her feet better.

We turned right at Four Corners and Lily chose to trot out. She picked up a canter as the road followed a rise in the land and then dropped back to a trot on the other side of the hill. I looked down to check the boots and realized the left front had spun off and was hanging by the pastern strap. *sigh* I dismounted and replaced it, noting that the mud that we had had to go through to get to the bridle path at the barn had plastered itself to the Velcro of the strap in such a way that I started wondering how well would this boot hold up.

We walked for a bit, then trotted on. We followed the skinny trail that winds through the next soybean field over and went into the Rabbit Hole. Lily chose to trot all the way through. We did the same route we had taken with Liz 2 weekends ago, exiting the Rabbit Hole before the tree that blocks the trail lengthwise. Like she did with Liz and Q, Lily picked up a canter as we took the trail that leads around the perimeter of the field. I looked down as we reached the top of the hill and realized that the left front boot had spun off again. Cursing, I got off, re-attached the boot, noticing that now there was a small tear in the boot gaiter. Really? After only 4 miles of trot/canter?? Lily doesn't forge. I checked the other boots and realized the left hind boot was completely backwards. So I took that boot off and replaced it in its proper position as well. All 4 boots were caked with mud, inside and out, which is what was now making the fit more iffy. Despite having been super tight to begin with.

We trotted on, following the perimeter trail. Lily cantered up another hill and as we came onto the last stretch that would take us back to the dirt road, I stopped Lily again to check the boots. The left front had spun off AGAIN.

Furious at the boots, I dismounted and removed both fronts (I didn't want her working lopsided), hanging them from the saddle bags. The right front was on tight despite the mud, and I will inform you that this boot did NOT have a power strap. I lost one of the straps somehow and chose to use this strapless boot on the widest of Lily's feet. So I may be removing ALL the power straps after this trial run. ARRRRGGGHHH...

We trotted most of the way home after that and both hind boots stayed on uneventfully. Even though the gaiters were gaping with every stride, being as covered in mud as they were. Maybe I'll leave the power straps on the hinds? I dunno; I'll have to ride her more in them and see.

Hind boots at the end of the ride. Note the gaping gaiters.

Front boot hanging from the saddle bags. If you "embiggen" the photo and look closely, you can see where the corner of the gaiter tore off of the edge of the boot itself.
Conclusion: remove the power strap from the left front boot, as this is the more upright of Lily's feet. Pretty sure the power strap was keeping that foot from sliding all the way into the boot. Replace the $23 gaiter. Try her again with the hind boots with power straps and decide then whether to remove those straps or not.

I can understand why people will put shoes on for endurance rides and keep their horses bare the rest of the time. Though shoes have their own potential problems as well.

Why so much concern with hoof protection? Because at the endurance rides in my area, hoof protection is mandatory. You CANNOT go in barefoot: that's how rocky the footing is. There is a reason why the Old Dominion rides are considered second only to Tevis.

*I have not received any kind of compensation from either EasyCare or Lander Industries; I'm just telling you guys about my experiences with both boots. This experience just helped sell me even more on Renegades!

Oh, and stats for this ride: if you include the 2 loops of the backwoods at the walk, we did a total of about 13 miles. I didn't start tracking pace and time until Lily and I were out by Four Corners, though. For that portion of the ride, we did 6.37 miles at an average speed of 5.78 mph, with our fastest speed being 11.19 mph for Lily's canters. The average speed does include the 3 times I had to dismount to adjust/remove boots. Not bad at all.






21 comments:

  1. I have never used boots, they seem like a real pain from all the reading I have done.
    Shy is barefoot and we do not ride enough to warrant boots (which I would choose over shoes) but it is something I read about of we ever get to that point. Thanks for the info!

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    1. You're welcome! Believe me, if it weren't for the endurance rides requiring hoof protection, we'd just work barefoot all the time. She did great over the winter without boots. :)

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  2. I have been battling with easy boots since I bought them. First off, you need a mallet to get the boot on the hoof. This is easyboots recommended process. Second, Ashke's coronet band is wide and his pasterns are much smaller in comparison, so the backcountry boots I first bought filled up with sand, gravel and small pebbles. The back boots have never fit correctly, even with power straps. I replaced the Backcountry gaiters with glove gaiters, but am still very unhappy.

    My bottom line is that Ashke hates them. He walks like he is a ballerina on point for the entire ride. I've spent more time carrying them the past three rides than I have riding in them. The back boots are so loose, they slip on and off his feet.

    I'm getting Rennies as soon as I can afford it. Probably May.

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    1. Rennies are awesome. The only reason why I got these as backups was the price tag, really. And the fact that they for better if they are tight-it will hopefully be a while before I need to replace them as backup boots even if Lily's feet get larger.

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  3. My mom had tried some different boots for her very sensitive Appaloosa. We aren't really a fan of shoes unless 100% necessary and we never even went on bad ground, other than a little bit of gravel every so often for like 5 seconds, and Spirit hated all of them, plus they all started coming off, were a pain to get on/off and pretty much, we went through what you went through. :/ Ended up shoeing Spirit and I'm so thankful for my Quarter Horse, he's got huge black hooves,super strong, lol!

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    1. Quarter Horses have wonderful feet! My QH gelding never even had to go through a transition period coming out of shoes, he had such great, tough feet. Lily used to have front shoes but the difference in her movement since they were removed 2 years ago has been dramatic. So I just kept her barefoot. :) really the only reason why we're playing with boots is because they are required for this particular series of endurance rides. They really can be a PITA.

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  4. I was stuck using Easy Boots for the CTR I did in college and I will never use them again. Everything about them is a giant PITA!

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    1. There really is nothing "easy" about them. They should have called them PITABoots but I don't think that would have sold as well. ;) lol

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  5. Interesting read, I've never used boots but am always interested in transitioning horses to barefoot.

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    1. Transitioning a horse to barefoot can be quite the project! Even after getting them transitioned, excess moisture, digestive upsets and diet can set the horse back. It can be a mission to maintain them

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  6. I think all boots are a massive PITA. Maybe I will rethink that if I end up doing endurance, but until then, I'll just do barefoot or shoes, depending on what my horse needs.

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    1. There are rides in other parts of the country where hoof protection is optional, which is nice. I just happen to be in an area where hoof boots or shoes with pads are required for our endurance rides. Booo!

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  7. I love my boots...once I got them dialed in. Beofre that I was a cursing fiend! I do think that the different style boots fit horses better or worse, if you're successful with one style I'd stick with it. While another style might work for someone else. That being said, I love my Renegades. More than 3000 miles on 3 pair, I just buy a few replacement parts, and a full new pair every 1.5 years or so. My backup pairs are still totally functional.

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    1. It's good to know someone else had problems getting their boots dialed in! The *only* reason why I chose these as backups vs another pair of Renegades is because I think Lily's feet are going to get a little bigger over the course of this year. She's only been doing distance training + 24/7 turnout for 8 months, and it only took 3 months for her to go up a whole size! We'll see. :) Once she stabilizes a bit more size-wise I'll get backup Rennies and probably sell the Gloves. I really do prefer the Renegades and they did work very well for us!

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  8. Love love love renegades and love reading your blog! If you switch all your boots left to right they will be easier to put on/off. Pull Velcro to the outside instead of the inside :)

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  9. completely unrelated subject....did you see that you pop into the frame in the AERC video around 7:18 or so???? http://gopony.blogspot.com/2014/03/aerc-educational-videos.html

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    1. OMG I hadn't seen that! I remember the moment too: Liz and I were wandering around the tack swap for the 20,000th time and we hadn't noticed the cameras until that instant! Hahaha...

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  10. Dude, why didn't you ASK YOUR FRIENDS about how to put those damn powerstraps on? ;) I tried for approximately 15 seconds to hole-punch a boot and immediately went for the drill. Drill a small hole in the exact right spot then drill a hole with a much, much bigger bit to ream it out big enough for the screw.

    Do you have any clean, freshly installed pics of the boots on her feet? It sounds like a) they don't fit or b) they just don't work for her. It's cool if they just don't work for her, but I suspect they don't fit her hoof shape or they're the wrong size.

    Personally, I hate the thought of depending on wet muddy velcro to keep the boot on, and I dislike the clunky feel of Renegades, but to each her own! :)

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    1. Lol I actually did ask Phoebe at the barn who had power straps on her Gloves, and she had used a really nice hole punch. Believe it or not, I did EXACTLY what you suggested with the drill bits! :) I was shocked we still couldn't get the back of the screw through the holes. I dunno. Apparently the material of the boots has changed recently? I'm pretty sure I just need to remove the power strap from that left front boot that kept coming off-I think it kept the hoof from sliding all the way in and that's why the gaiter ripped while she was moving. But yes, I'll post pics later of clean boots on clean feet so you can tell me what you think. :) The Renegades Velcro is so much better-it sticks so tight that mud can't get in there. The Gloves will definitely just be backups.

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  11. Ugh, I just realized the other day that we're a month out from the first ride of our season and I don't have a confirmed-successful hind booting solution yet. I've been thrilled with our front Renegades so far -- want to adjust the cables very slightly and do a long test ride, but we did 2.5 hours through some pretty serious mud last weekend and they did great, so I'm not concerned. I don't have any reason to think the hinds won't also be fine; I just haven't been able to test them (sent one back for a size exchange and then again for a cutback) and I won't be happy until I do. Been thinking about back-up boots and wondering whether I should get another set of Renegades or a set of Gloves for the purpose. Really don't want to mess with Gloves, but wondering if a slimmer-profile boot might be a good idea...

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