This blog has MOVED!

Please visit for the most updated content. All these posts and more can be found over at the new URL.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To glue or not to glue?

To glue or not to glue?

To use the strapons or glue on renegades?

I’m terribly conflicted on what to do for Wild West, which will impact my booting decision for Tevis.

After talking to Renegade, I think all of my boot failures, including the innumerable failures at American River, had a root cause in either using the wrong size boot OR not making ALL the modifications to the boots necessary for a perfect fit.

Here’s some of the tips I’ve learned from renegade regarding their strap on boots.

Before sharing, I want to stress that anyone trying to troubleshoot renegade boot retention problems should use this as a guide only. Renegade themselves should be your go-to source for answers – they are immensely helpful and know their product and will be able to definitively give you answers of why your boots aren’t staying on. And I can (almost) guarantee their solution is NOT going to be duct tape or vet wrap.

Tip 1 – If the shoe fits….doesn’t mean you should wear it. In this case just because you CAN pop the boot on the foot doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Clues that you may need a size bigger: Boot “pops” on the foot….and then you cuss like a sailor to get it off. Look at the sidewalls – is the hoof way bowing the wall out? Not good. Gina explained to me that just like a basketball can be forced into a ring that’s too small and it appears to be secure, give it the right force and it pops out – if you put the same ball into a ring where there’s space around it, it jiggles around in there happily. My RF boot came off at American river because I was shoving a size 2 foot in a size 1 boot. I’ve never had problems retaining a boot on this foot before….so this is definitely a good hypothesis. Especially considering that at American river when the boot wasn’t busy popping off, the sidewall was laying itself under the foot….Looking at the rest of the feet, the LF is moving towards a size 2 and the hinds are moving towards, or actually may be a size 1 depending on how I trim.

Tip 2 – if the boot needs to be cut back and the cables shortened, then the sidewalls should be shortened as well so they don’t interfere with the captivor. I had no idea. I cut back the sole of my LF boot on her first set of boots. I still ended up losing this boot so I tightened the cables, probably more than I should have. This was the boot that the cable snapped on at 20 MT. Hindsight being 20/20, what was happening was the captivator wasn’t in the optimal position due to the sidewalls, which was causing boot retention problems and when I finally DID get it to stay on by tightening the cables too much, they eventually snapped under the stress……then when I put new boots on for American River I didn’t cut back the boot at all (completely forgot I had cut back her first pair….). The combination of her hind feet and the rocks grabbed the excess and kept pulling that boot off. Solution – cut back the side walls of any boot I cut back the sole.

Tip 3 – The length of the boot needs to fit (cut back if necessary), even on hind feet. I learned that rocks (just like a heel on a too big sized sandel…) will grab the excess behind the feet (front OR back) and pull the boots off. If more than ¼” extends past the heels CUT IT OFF (and shorten the side walls too). This was probably responsible for ALL of my hind boot failures I’ve had since the very beginning (only happened once before American river, but….).

Tip 4 – Velcro straps can be UNFASTENED at vet checks, cleaned, and then used again. I need to find out more about this. If I have to undo a velco strap for any reason during a ride, then I replace it since I know that the “sticking” power of the Velcro is reduced in the presence of dirt, sand etc. It would be nice to be able to clean the Velcro.

The biggest lesson learned is that if my renegades are coming off, especially when they DID work before, there’s a reason and it’s probably going to be fixable. I’m so grateful that the boots are SO customizable and it’s so easy to do so. It’s also especially gratifying that ALL of my boots that “broke” due to my learning curve (snapped cables and busted cable canals) can be affordably fixed! How great is that? Through ALL of this I’ve only lost/damaged beyond repair 2 boots – and that’s after hundreds of miles in 8 months!

Here’s my problem – I’m confident that with these modifications the strap ons are going to continue to work very well for me. BUT, I don’t have time for them to “prove” themselves before I have to ride the 2 most significant rides I do in a season – the 3 day Wild West and Tevis.
  • I CANNOT do 3 days of what I went through at American River. Wild West is the highlight of my season.
  • One boot failure is too much for me at Tevis. I take that back. One boot failure that causes a strap on to hang around her pastern and requires me to dismount is too much. I’m perfectly willing to ride her barefoot until I can replace a boot if a boot comes off (she proved that much to me at Wild West). I’m much more likely to lose a boot “cleanly” if using glue ons.

So….what am I going to do?

  • I have purchased glue ons from renegade and the adhere glue/accessories so now I have a backup plan no matter what I decide. I’m already feeling less stressed.
  • For Wild West I can start off with Strapons, and if I have a disaster switch to glue ons (if I put glue ons on at ~5pm, would they be ready for a 6am start?). Or should I start with glueons and only use the strapons if the glueons fail? I’m on the fence about which way to go.

For Tevis I’m leaning towards glueons. Here’s why. Yes, it’s possible to get through Tevis with strapons, especially considering I got through 20MT, which was possibly even worse booting conditions than Tevis. However, Gina explained to me what was involved in getting their rider through Tevis with no booting issues using the strap ons last year:

  • Kirt/Gina crewed for her. Her horse’s feet were groomed by Kirt and the boots were perfectly fitted for the horse by Renegade personally. At every vet check, (that crews were allowed at), the boots were checked by Kirt/Gina, the straps cleaned, adjustments made, and the boots reinstalled.

Here’s my reality – I will be the only person on my crew with booting experience. If I want ANY booting stuff taken care of at the ride I’m going to have to do it. I had enough trouble taking care of myself last year at Tevis, I just don’t think I’ll be able to do what Renegade did for their rider AND also ride the ride. Not to mention I very much doubt my ability to groom the foot and fit the boot perfectly comes even close to matching Kirt’s and Gina’s!

Having to deal with booting issues at Tevis would probably be too much. I think my best bet is to use glue ons, and have perfectly fitted strap ons (or at least as close as I can get them…) as backups. Even if I lose a glue on, I WON’T have to stop on the trail in an unsafe part to take the boot off because it WON’T be around her pastern. If worse comes to worse, Farley has great feet and would probably be OK barefoot for quite a few miles (she basically did most of American River barefoot….).

So considering everything – any advice of what do to for Wild West? I’m not making any final decisions about Tevis (booting or otherwise) until after Wild West, so let’s get that figured out first!

I know I can always put shoes back on, but I was really unhappy last year how “tall” her foot was with pads and where the breakover was and I would like the protection of the pads for this ride. I also did NOT like her feet looked coming out of pads AND her legs tend to fill more with shoes on….so putting shoes on is last resort – especially because if I lose boots (glue on or strapons) her feet are transitioned enough she’ll be sound on a rocky trail.

Strapons are my perferred way to go - Glueing on boots for a week or more can have an undesirable effect on the hoof, similar to shoeing. It would be worth it for a multi day (like Wild West) or Tevis, but I wouldn't glueon regularly.

And while everyone is in advice giving mode….anyone know if the footing at Virginia City 100 is easier on boots? If I do go with glueons for Tevis, would Virginia City be a good place to do another 100 in strap ons? Any cliffs to fall off of while I deal with boot issues?


  1. Okay, you wanted help and opinions, here you go.

    First, for velcro, get one of these:
    I saw them at the AERC convention and considered it a MUST HAVE for booted riders. It's super tiny, way easy to pack & carry. Heck, buy a couple, one for in your saddle packs, one for crew box, etc.

    In regards to the glue or strap-on debate for Wild West, I personally would GLUE. Here's why: 1) it seems you're already leaning toward using glue-ons at Tevis. You're going to want to really test that process well before hand. 2) If the glue-on process does fail, it's really easy to put a strap-on boot instead. It would be harder, IMHO, to decide the strap ons aren't working and then going through the hassle of glueing boots in camp, in between days of the ride. 3) Glueing is a REALLY messy process, especially for first timers. You're going to want to have the ability to get as clean as possibly afterward (wear cruddy clothes). Easier to do before a ride at home than at camp.

    Are Kurt & Gina going to be at Tevis this year? Would they be willing to glue-on Renegade shells for you before the ride (ala Team Easycare)?

    One last note, on the Adhere, be extra super careful about getting that glue on the sole of the boot at all. It sets up rock hard and will make a glue-pebble that will be stuck in the boot for your horse to have to walk on. You might contact Chris Martin about the new Goober Glue, which doesn't hold quite as well (at least that's what I'm hearing), but still sets soft and won't make your horse lame if you get some under her heels.

  2. Mel --
    If you're going to glue Renegades, be sure to check out Kirt's videos on the gluing process.

    As far as your question on timing, for how late can you glue boots on for them to be set up -- there's been some rides were Kirt was gluing boots on at 10 at night for a 6 in the morning start.

    I've personally not tried the glue-ons, but know several local riders who have used them with success. My worst luck with boots has come from glued-on easyboots in the past, and I actualyl trust my strap-on Renegades moreso than glued-on boots.

    So happy you were able to talk to Gina -- isn't she a gem? -- about what happened at American River. They're so customer-service oriented and helpful, and go out of their way to help riders solve boot issues.

  3. And yes Ashley, Gina is an absolute GEM. I can't remember the last time I got such wonderful customer service. (and yes, I'll be writing that in my open letter to them so they can post it on their website after Wild West.

  4. Yes, be extra careful to what Crysta said about the Adehre!! Sassy got trimmed yesterday and when we trimmed her you could see 3 big bruised (huge black and red areas) on her sole, all for feet. Both on the back areas near her heal and up on her toe. I was mortified when i saw this. I don't think i will go to WW this year, i don't want to push Sassy to hard so i am considering going to Cooley Ranch 2 day, but i might still go, just have to see how things play out.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I think the key comment you make in your ruminating is quote:

    Here’s my reality – I will be the only person on my crew with booting experience.

    If that were different, I think you could risk improving on the strap ons. But otherwise, you can't risk a repeat of AR boot stuff.

  7. Regarding Virginia City 100... Footing is rough, lots of rocks but some sandy areas as well. I would not wont to ride a mile of that trail without a boot. So personally i would do glue ons at VC. Their is also the Patriots Day 100 in late October if you can make it and Farley is good to go i think that trail would be good to do a 100 on strap ons. No cliffs to fall off of at Vc, just rocks to twist your ankles in :p

  8. Glue the boots so you can see what is involved and give her a chance to go in them.

    Then for Tevis, order the boots with the gel inserts...they'll be AWESOME for all that downhill and hardpacked stuff!

    I just took Chief's glue-ons off, I glued them on all by myself...took them off all by myself too...I'll post photos later. Just plan on using 1 tip per boot and take your time.

    Virginia City is hard on everything, shoes, boots, horses,

    I think it's harder on hoof protection than Tevis.

    I hope to ride Bo in a 100 at the end of the month and will use strap ons. I detest gluing boots unless it's for something important/a lot of days on the same horse, etc.

    I've seen Dave Rabe glue boots on for people a few minutes before the START of a ride....with Adhere glue there really isn't a need to wait more than a couple of minutes.

  9. As usual, I have no useful suggestions - but what do you mean by "cut back the sidewalls"? I know you can cut back the length of the base of the boot, but I'm not sure what you mean by cutting sidewalls.

  10. Another glueing question:

    After watching the renegade video and seeing him squirt the adhere into the sidewalls at the back of the foot, after the boot was placed on, how did he insure no glue got under the heels? Is is he just the back of the foot (heel bulbs) that I should worry abot (and since I'm using an open backed renegade, I won't be putting glue there)? Just make sure I keep the boot seated well so that the glue doesn't seep under the sole on the side?

  11. The reason why I like using the beige/clear colored glue is that you can SEE where it goes easily. That way if some glue does accidentally get where it shouldn't, you can wipe it off before putting the boot on.

    That's why you should wear two pairs or disposable gloves when you glue. So if you get glue on your hands, you can pull off the outer glove and still have one on to protect you.

    It is rare for a small amount of glue to cause a problem by getting under the foot - usually the horses stands and bears weight right away distributing any small amount of glue pretty evenly and flat. Don't stress about that too much, it's really not a common problem.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.