There’s been quite a bit of talk of late about the Renegade Hoof Boots going around – they’re becoming a lot higher profile, and are now readily available to the public. With this, us Renegade users are getting a lot more questions about them, so I figured now might be a good time to sit down and write up and in-depth post about my experiences with Renegades.
First off, I want to say that I’m not a distributor for Renegade, or a farrier, trimmer, or any person with “proper” hoof trimming, balancing, shoeing, not shoeing, etc. I’m just a regular horse gal that knows what I know through experience limited to my own horses, so I shouldn’t be considered an expert in the field. It’s all been trial and error testing, and all I can hope to do is pass on some of my experiences to other people. I have no monetary interest in Renegades, save for I love these boots and I want them to stay in business, so the more people that get interested in them, the better!
I started looking into the alternate shoeing/barefoot/hoof boot direction right about the time I started distance riding, and played with alternating between boots and shoes for about four years. At the time, I was competing in NATRC, which doesn’t allow any type of leg protection over the coronet band, which meant if I wanted to use boots, I had to glue Easyboots on.
Well, Mimi’s alwys been somewhat Easyboot-challenged. Even foamed on, she has the ability to lose them. I believe I’ve permanently lost three or four boots over the years because of this, and had countless other come off, only to be retrieved and crammed back on again. Lather, rinse, repeat, and you see why I was becoming frustrated.
Then along came endurance, and the ability to take advantage of these wonderful things called gaiters. Which opened the door to using Epics, and when they came out, Bares. They worked quite well for a time, especially the Bares, but I could never get the fit dialed down quite tight enough on the front Bares, so they would always fill up with sand, and every so often, they’d get heavy enough that the gaiter would tear, and off goes the boot.
And we were constantly plagued with gaiter rubbing problems right under her fetlocks. I believe I bought out all the local Walgreens of their moleskins in an effort to combat the rubs. Temporarily solvable at rides with copious amounts of vetwrap, but that wasn’t exactly practical for every time I wanted to go ride. Still, they worked well enough I kept experimenting, and she was much happier with those than shoes.
And then along comes Renegade. Dad had been using them for awhile now, ever since they became available, and he’d been having good luck. Up to this point, I hadn’t tried them because I thought they were too big – the smallest size they made were 0s, and Mimi needed 00 for her fronts, 000 for her backs. Tiny feet.
On a whim, I grabbed one of Dad’s size 0 boots (Beamer’s hind boot size, 1s in the front) one weekend after riding, and as an experiment, stuck it on her foot. It was a little sloppy, but with the adjustable cables and velcro closures, I was able to tighten it down around her foot so that it actually fit! We were in business!
All of this was only a few weeks before the Man Against Horse race in October of last year (2007). I picked up the phone and promptly placed an order for a new pair. Granted, they were too big for her back feet, but I would keep using the Bares on the hinds, and the Renegades on the front. We did the 25 mile LD at that ride and finished, despite Mimi’s hock fusing issues showing up at that ride, and then in January, we did our first 50 at Land of the Sun using the same Renegade/Bare combination.
Renegade now has size 00, which are actually too small for Mimi’s front feet, but fit her hind feet great, so we’re in Renegades all around, and have been since February.
To break it down into some pros and cons:
-Super easy to put on and take off. The straps are velcro, so they’re really easy to adjust and get just right.
-Adjustable, recessed cables. The cables are recessed, so they don’t bang on rocks and start to fray, thus eliminating the “sharp, pokey cable” problem.
-Lower profile on the pastern. Because of this, I haven’t had the rubbing problems I had with Easyboot gaiters, which bumped right up against her fetlock and rubbed the underside.
-Fairly long-lasting. The longest we’ve gotten out of a pair of boots is ten months out of a pair of hind boots…maybe 1100-1200 miles??? A lot of training miles, I know that, which I’m not as good at diligently tracking.
-Flexible. They really wrap around the foot nicely without trapping it in place, which I believe allows more hoof flexion and shock absorption.
-Worry-free. In the last three years or so, Dad has only ever lost one boot, in a deep, deep sand wash when Beamer stepped in a hole with his front foot, and pulled the boot off with his back foot. Would have pulled a shoe if he were shod. In the last year I’ve been using them, I only lost one, when the side cables inexplicably snapped at the Devil Dog ride in June. I still haven’t figured out why they snapped at that point, the only conclusion is the boot possibly got torqued in an odd way. But that’s the only time I’ve ever lost one, and even then, it was still around her pastern by the captivator strap.
– The velcro fasteners are the “weak spot” if you ride in terrain like where I ride. We have a lot of sand washes, and the sand can wear down the velcro quickly. We usually replace our velcro straps every three or four months, and Renegade sells replacement straps. If you’re creative and have access to a heavy-duty sewing machine, you could probably even make your own straps, but I find them easy and cheap enough to just buy premade.
-A bit more creativity is needed in attaching them to your saddle. With the gap between the boot and the captivator strap, the boot can flop around a bit more when clipped off somewhere. I find getting creative with zip ties has been working well.
-The grip on the bottoms may be a bit too aggressive for some gaited horses. Dad’s foxtrotter was particularly susceptible to this, and she did best in smooth shoes because of her extreme sliding action of her feet when gaiting. However, I know some gaited horses are doing very well in them, and competing in endurance, so that could come down to an individual horse issue. Again, that’s one of those “personal experience” things.
-When the grip wears down after almost ten months of use, the bottoms can be a bit slick, traction-wise, going down hills. I noticed Mimi is a bit more tentative right now, taking slightly smaller steps because the boots can slide on the right terrain. But then, we need new boots and are just holding out until Man Against Horse in October. Again, personal preference…I have a pony that likes a bit of grip, apparently.
-Cost. They’re not the cheapest, $170 a pair, I believe, but I think the benefits are well worth paying slightly extra!
I’ve had to really reach to come up with cons on these boots. This is just what I’ve experienced with them, and I hope this helps people who are curious about the boots! I lvoe them and think they’re a great product!