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Monday, March 23, 2009

Hoof boots

This post is an incredibly wordy way to say I ordered a pair of renegades.

In my previous post, there's a picture of the hoof stand my very talented younger brother welded for me on Saturday. It works WONDERFULLY. I'm thinking of painting it, but probably won't get around to it.

Which brings me to my next point - I have found I LOVE puttering around with my horse's feet. Minx is currently barefoot and I have been doing my own rasping. I had my farrier look at her feet on Thursday to make sure I wasn't missing anything or screwing up any angles, and he pronounced my work good :). I probably rasp and touch up her feet once a week.

In this part of the country hoof protection is REQUIRED for all rides, which is why Farley is currently shod (She's been competing at least every 6 weeks). The ONLY reason I shoe my horses is endurance rides. Minx hasn't done her first ride yet this season so she is barefoot. Both my horses have excellent hooves. (Minx actually completed a 50 last year where hoof protection was recommended, not required - obviously a duck ride!). My horses only get shoes if they are going to a ride in the next 6 weeks, the rest of the time they are barefoot.

Part of the headache of getting to a ride is scheduling shoes to be put on. The farrier comes out to the boarding stable every 3 weeks. So I'm limited. Too bad if I want the shoes reset at 4 weeks because of hoof growth. In fact, the week before Farley was re-shod on Thursday, I didn't ride her because I was uncomfortable with the amount of hoof growth and the angles. Depending on where the ride falls, I might be too close to the beginning or end of a shoeing cycle for my own comfort. I can't decide to go to a ride on a whim. For example, if there was a ride this weekend, I couldn't go because the farrier was out last week and won't be out again for 2 weeks.......which means unless I call the farrier out special (if he's even available!) my horse won't get shoes.

Before I go on, I do want to put a plug in for my farrier - he's WONDERFUL! I've only lost one shoe ever and that was the first set of shoes he put on my Standardbred. He's helpful, nice, and good to look at. He's in high demand in this area and I feel lucky to be able to use him (he has a standing appointment at the stable every 3 weeks for any horses that need to be done). To top it all off - he's affordable! Shoes, including hot shoes with clips, are only $85! Trims are $35. His affordability is one reason it's hard for me to justify going to hoof boots - the boots are going to cost more.

So what's the answer? You might automatically say hoof boots....but it's not that simple. Minx's hooves are not shaped for most hoof boots on the market. Additionally, until I discovered I could do my own trimming, it was much more expensive to pay my farrier to trim AND do hoof boots. However I think it's time to make a what did change?

1. The introduction of the renegade and easy care glue on boot on the market. The renegade was the first boot I could see myself using. The easy care glue-on was the first boot that would actually be cheaper than shoeing my horse.
2. The realization that I could trim my own horses. The realization that I loved doing it.
3. The realization that Minx will be getting a light year. We won't be doing more than 4-5 rides this year, all spread out. I'll have to shoe for 6 weeks, for every single one of those rides.
4. Upon investigation, the renegades can be cut down for length, meaning that they should fit Minx's rounder hooves. Finally a hoof boot that will fit. (at least the front hooves. I'll figure out the backs later)
5. The incredible feedback from Karen Chaton's use of the boots, and Ashley from "Go Pony" about Renegade customer service. Discovering Renegades generous return policy.

So, this post was a long way to say this: I ordered a pair of size 2 yellow renegades for Minx's front feet. I'm having them lop off 3/8" off the length, which should be perfect.

So what's next?

Minx will be my guinea pig. I think keeping Farley in shoes is for the best right now. She wears down her feet MUCH fast then Minx when barefoot, and has an old hoof injury that I worry about (I like having the support of shoes there). Farley is doing more rides and more miles than Minx this year, so the steep learning curve will be with Minx whom I'm using recreationally, rather than on a 100 miler with Farley....I'll reevaluate after a year.

I will need to figure out what I can put on Minx's hinds. I doubt the renegade strapons will work. Perhaps the renegade glueons, which have the ability to be cut down like the strapons. The easy care options (glueons) can't be cut down, which limits me to fit that comes out of the box.

Wish me luck!


  1. Awesome, Mel! Hope they work out well for you! I love my Renegades, and so does Mimi. I recently started doing my own hoof rasping, and just bringing my farrier out every 6-8 weeks for maintenance and making sure I'm not screwing up angles too badly.

  2. Ashley - your blog was one of the things that pushed me over to go ahead and try them. You seem to be having great success and you rave about the customer service, so I figured it was worth a try :) (do you get a referral discount!? :)

    I'll be sure to let everyone know how they work. After reviewing the sizing chart again, the size 1's might work for her hinds if I cut 1/8"-1/4" off the length.

    My farrier looked at Minx's hooves after 6 weeks and said they looked fine, so I'll probably have him look at them 9-12 weeks next time....That's one reason I'm starting with Minx. For some reason her hooves look very natural to me and I can see the angles. Farley's hooves always look too tall to me, even when the angles are correct.

  3. On the other hand.....the length on hind boots doesn't matter as much as the fronts so maybe I would just leave the length alone...

  4. Are you sure it would be cheaper to go w/ shoes?? At $85 every 3-6 weeks....that's going to add up!!

    I understand that a set of hoof boots can last for one competitive season, especially if you're only going to do 4-5 rides, and training barefoot.

    It is totally possible to get educated to do your own trimming. I mean, I did it, and I am SO VERY glad I did. Not that I had anything against my farrier, but, it is so rewarding. Arabee is sound, and to me, that's the measure! All the cost involved is time on the internet to learn what to do - there's a lot of information out there, a rasp and some way to hold up the hoof (sounds like you already have a hoof stand, and leather gloves if you use a hoof knife to trim away old frog.

  5. I don't keep my horses shod year round. I think at most they get 6 sets of shoes a year. Before I started trimming myself, it was more expensive for the boots (because I was paying the farrier to trim as well). Now, as long as I do 5 rides in boots and do my own trimming, I will break even/come out ahead with boots!

    The real benefit for me is the freedom to not have to plan ahead :) I have put on shoes SEVERAL times and not been able to do the ride. OR I have NOT put on shoes and at the last minute could have attended the ride....very frusterating.

    I totally agree with the rewarding part of trimming. I LOVE it. It appeals to the obsessive side of me that can take out a rasp and adjust the hoof to my liking whenever I please :) It was doable without a hoof stand, but HARD. It's amazing how much easier it is with it. They cost so much, I was glad that my brother was able to fabricate one for me.

    I must admit I am BAD about wearing gloves. After reading how you cut yourself, I really should....

    The visit from my farrier last week was a real confidence booster that I was on the right track.

  6. Yay, I'm glad I was a postive influence for Renegades! My father and I were actually Kirt and Gina's first customers to buy the boots and use them, and we've referred quite a few endurance people in our area to them, as well as a lot of casual trail riders that ride out of the same park we do and were tired of shoes and wanted boots that were actually easy to use. No referral discounts, just a strong belief in the product!

  7. Another thing worth considering is that I understand that a true barefoot trim is pretty significantly different from the way most farriers who also shoe have been taught to trim.

    Your farrier may be different, but I know Arabee was never sound on gravel until I started trimming her myself. She was fine in the pasture and on soft ground, but that was about it. Now that I've started applying my own mustang rolls and keeping her heels low, she can trot right along on nearly any footing.

    I hope you can find a workable solution!

  8. First off - thank you for all your great feedback. It's really nice to have a sounding board! I tend to work through problems by talking and thinking through them, so please bear with me as I consider what you guys are saying and try to develop my opinions (which, as I don't have any practical experience with boots, will probably change over the next few months).

    I've never had a problem with soreness on any terrain barefoot, but that could just be the horse. Standardbreds are known for their tough feet and high pain tolerance. That's one reason I'm starting with her as the experiement....she's much more forgiving of mistakes (which could be a bad thing too, I might not know right away if I have made a mistake). What my farrier does looks pretty close to what's posted on all the barefoot trimming websites. I do notice that he trims horses different if they are going to be shod, or if they are staying barefoot.


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