This blog has MOVED!

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I found *shoes!

*the term shoes used in the loosest sense, as objects that will shield my feet from the sensitive eyes of onlookers and especially pointy rocks on the trail.

As much as I love my Soft Star moccasins for running, they just weren't working in the saddle. I found I really needed a sole under my foot to comfortably balance my foot in the stirrup and I needed my toes better "contained".

I had resorted to riding in my ariat terrains again, which I kept unlaced so my foot didn't feel so confined, however with the ride and tie event looming, I needed to give another thought to my footwear.

I am no longer comfortable running, walking, or even just being in regular shoes any more. I've had to make some compromises based on my pocket book and I save my Run-A-Mocs for running and hiking and have several leather shoes that are "close enough" to a flat sole with minimal support that I wear for my every day activities. However, none of these options were going to cut it for the ride and tie.

About a year ago I had tried on a pair of Merrial Gloves at REI as a possible every day barefoot shoe and found it to be too narrow for my foot, and the heel platform to be too curved and unstable, which was unsettling after being in the moccasins. However, I returned with my mom last week to try them again and see if they would work. Since I've tried so many shoes that I had hoped would work in and out of the saddle that didn't live up to my expectations, I decided to go to REI so that I could return them after using them if they didn't.

To my great delight not only was the rep for Merrial at REI, they just came out with a new model of their barefoot line that seemed to describe my needs perfectly. "For the runner with higher arches, who needs a wider toe box and a wider, more stable heel." Hallejiah and let the angels sing! AND they came in orange - now my footwear is at least as colorful as Farley's!

I've done a 10 mile mixed road and trail long run in them, and put in some saddle time - a couple hours over 2 rides. They perform PERFECTLY. Oh sure, I have a couple complaints - I wish they didn't have arch support at all. It gave me blisters on my first run and is really quite unnecessary in my opinion (or at least for my biomechanics). I no longer think that there is any "breaking in" of shoes - only the shoes breaking in your feet by creating calluses etc. to compensate for the material and seams and folds in close contact to your foot. By running my the very loose fitting moccasins over the last 1 1/2 years, I've lost all that and I've found I've become hypersensitive about how and what is on my feet. BUT, compared to how regular shoes fit and feel, these are like heaven!

For my every day running on the road, I still grab my runamocs, however I've worn through the sole in some spots and rocks and gravel easily get inside the moccasin, so I'll use these shoes for any trail running.

As they are equally as comfortable as any of my riding shoes and more so, so I've been using them as my every day riding shoe, as I don't think it will put any excessive wear and tear on them.

Bottom Line: if you love barefoot, but are having a hard time finding a shoe that will do both the stirrup and the trail, check out the Merrial line.

BTW - you, My Dear Reader, were probably checking out my very very pretty tights in the above picture. They are tights I purchased from the tights lady at the AERC convention.

I had planned on buying a pair of her "denim" tights and was walking out of her boot with my bag when.....I saw these on the rack. I IMMEDIATELY fell in love with the pattern and bought them. They feel like the comfy-est PJ's you've ever had and I adore them. They are a higher percentage of cotton than most of the tights I own, which makes them cozy, but they are thin and are showing wear more easily than my other tights. However, I feel so brilliant when I wear them I don't care :).

And speaking of gear and shoes and know that saying about the cobbler's kids? Apparently it applies to boot dealers as well. Farley has the oldest, trashiest boots you've ever seen. I can't actually get them on any more, so I put them half way on, get on and trot for about a mile, which pushes the boots into place, and then I dismount and put the straps on (which are pitiful excuses for straps......). They've never come off, still perform wonderfully, and so this starving vet student hasn't been able to justify getting a new pair.

I saw Ashely from Go Pony Blog, and from Renegade and she reminded me that as a dealer they could probably help me out on that front.......I nodded enthusiastically.....and then she asked me about sizing. I rattled off what I had, but mentioned that the hinds sometimes came off when riding parts of the Tevis trail - specifically where there was a water crossing and then a very steep uphill with steps. We had JUST finished talking about how captivator size can affect boot retention and I must confess --> Not only were my boots ancient and worn out, I wasn't evaluating fit and how it might change over time. Farley's feet have almost CERTAINLY changed shape after 2 years.....especially in how wide/uncontracted her heels are. Ashely asked me if Farley had wide heels and I muttered a vague "I dunno". When I looked at her feet this morning after our ride I could have hit myself upside her head. It's OBVIOUS she needs a bigger captivator in the back. She has some of the widest heels on a horse I've seen to date. Back AND front, but especially the hinds.


Of course, I'm only now worrying about boots since I'm looking at an LD in a month or two, and I vaccinated and wormed in the last 2 months.

I haven't been concerned about hoof protection because I wasn't riding, and Farley was so sound over all terrain that we were able to canter over gravel roads with no issues at all. I don't boot a horse that doesn't need booting.

I put off worming and vaccinating as long as I could because I had a feeling I was going to see some effects and sure enough - even with spaced out minimal vaccinations and worming she's tender over gravel now. Boo hoo hoo. :(

Of course worming and vaccinating is the right thing to do when you board your horse and have plans to travel and do rides, but it still sucks sucks sucks to know that it has a negative impact on your horse, even with the overwhelming positive benefits.

Next time I'm going to try buting the day before, of, and after the vaccination/worming and see if that helps. Another rider I know, who shall remain nameless because I don't want to get anyone in trouble, has her vet give her horse IV Banamine with the vaccinations and says that she thinks it helps.

I suppose I have rambled enough and could start the mountains of assigned reading that I have for school. No, the term doesn't start for 2 weeks, but apparently some of the professors are concerned that we might be getting bored and need a bit of cardiology during summer break to perk us up.


  1. It was great meeting up with you yesterday and having the chance to chat boots and horses! I love those shoes and the're going to give me a challenge in the bright colors department.

  2. Correction - I should have said that I wasn't worried about boots because I wasn't doing RIDES. I'm still riding just not doing formal endurance rides lately :).

    It was great meeting you too! I I found my self worried that all the talk about horses and hooves and boots was going to bore you, but it's what fascinates me, so we naturally drifted back. It was good to hear that you too can talk about hooves for hours and hours and family and friends probably wish you lived closer . Lol

  3. Are those the orange Merrells? (Merial is the Heartgard people, you vet student, you.) I just bought the purple Merrells strictly because they're purple. My horrendously ugly black and white barefoot shoes are falling apart :( Anyway the purple ones rub my achilles pretty fiercely, and they're definitely more supportive than my ugly shoes - I've got mixed feelings about them so far. (But they're SO PURPLE!)

    An LD?! Where?

  4. REI only had two colors, orange and black, but when I looked at amazon it does appear that they have lots of colors including purple, so yeah, it looks like they may be the same. I'm not getting any blisters or achilles issues - the back semi-elastic portion of the shoe doesn't go up high enough on my foot. I will say that I fitted them looser rather than snugger. I probably would have been OK with the size smaller, but since I'm used to the moccasins that have NOTHING squeezing my feet, I went ahead and went up to what is normally my size, and as a result they don't fit "like a glove". I'm wondering if you are wearing your's tighter? Because I have high arches, there's not really any tension on the laces either - it makes the top of my foot hurt if they are too tight (another "shoe" problem I've never had before), AND I replaced the laces with the bungee cord thingys since I knew I would be wearing them in the saddle and for some reason the action of the stirrup etc unties my shoe laces. What do you think? Do you think your shoes are tighter than what I'm describing? Does the shape of the shoe itself look like your foot? Have you tried tying them looser or tighter?

  5. I will have to see what my REI has in stock!

    The purple shoes feel more shoe-like than the ugly vivo barefoots. I bought the same size purple shoes as I had been wearing in the vivos, but they were WAY too big - like more than an inch loose at the toe, so I returned them for a half-size smaller. These give me plenty of toe room but the heels do rub, so I'm back to wearing wool socks with them. They fit tighter at the widest part of my foot - my, uh, toe knuckles? But it's not too bad, just weird. This is Day 2 of the purple ones and I haven't done much activity yet - no biking or riding yet.

    Somewhere around here, I have a pair of bungee cord laces that I've been halfheartedly looking for! I was thinking about doing that too, because I really like slip-on-able shoes. The existing laces are too short to tie them much looser, but I think if I swap them for bungees they won't be so tight on my upper feet.

  6. Ah, I thought "Merrill" but you seemed so confident.


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