How Renegades prevented a couple of riders from becoming splats on the pavement

In case you’re curious, I was one of those riders.

And the story isn’t actually as dramatic as the title might suggest.  Except for in a few parts.

And no pictures, because my normally-sane, take-pictures-off-my-back-with-no-reins pony was acting like she was closely related to a fire-breathing dragon, and taking my hands off the reins and fumbling with a camera just might have resulted me becoming that aforementioned splat on the pavement.  I need to get one of the helmet cams that are becoming so popular.

As I’ve said before, I board in a semi-urban area.  It’s a very horsey “neighborhood” in Queen Creek, no official subdivision designation, more like a loose coalition of streets containing horse people who have all migrated to an area free of CC&Rs and HOAs.  The whole area is bordered on two sides by state trust land desert…which is currently “locked gate access only,” and you have to get an access permit to get a key.

After yesterday, I think I’m just going to pony up the $$$ for the access permit so I can ride out on that state land again, versus running the Gauntlet of Pony Death that is riding on the streets around the neighborhood.  It used to be open access several years ago, and that was my training ground for when I started to move into endurance from NATRC and needed some good areas for adding speed work to our workouts.

This being semi-urban and a neighborhood of sorts, “streets” = pavement.

I really hate riding on pavement.  Probably something having to do with getting tossed onto and going skidding across it years ago.  It was probably a minor miracle that the worst casualty of that incident was my favorite t-shirt, and that I came off none the worse than some road rash and mental trauma.

So that sets the stage for why I hate riding on pavement, even under the best of circumstances, so the thought of doing anything that could make the situation worse — such as riding in pavement on shoes (yes, Mimi was shod in the above incident) — really makes me cringe. Slithering and slipping on pavement does not a fun ride make.

Yesterday, I’d had it with arena circles.  Plans were initially in place to trailer out, but enough outside circumstances conspired that it just proved more convenient for Boarding Barn Owner and I to stick around the barn and explore around the neighborhood.  The original plan was to see if we could find access to an unlocked trust land gate, but we nixed that plan partway through after realizing the National Guard was using the runway they have in that section of trust land for practicing helicopter water-retrieval exercises.

(Fire season is approaching, so they’re sharpening their “dip the bucket in the water and dump it in the right area” skills.)

For some reason, sharing space with large helicopters with weird, tire-looking things dangling from their undersides didn’t seem like the best idea.  How does one even go about desensitizing a horse to something like that?  Park a helicopter in the roundpen?

So we ended up just doing a large, exploratory loop around the neighborhood, about 4 miles in all.

I put Mimi boots on when we ride out, no so much for protection, because she can handle the street terrain just fine.  It’s for the grip and traction and peace of mind I get from knowing that she’s not going to unexpectedly do the splits on the pavement if she spooks at something.  Yes, she probably gets decent traction going barefoot.  But since her favorite spooking methods involve very fast movement, usually around and to the side, I’d rather just know she’s going to have the grip needed to stay upright during evasive maneuvers.

It also gives me a really good chance to see how she’s wearing her feet…for some reason, I can read the wear pattern on the boots easier than I can read her feet themselves.  And after yesterday, the boots were telling me she’s wearing faster on the outsides.  Time to reevaluate the trimming.

Barn Owner is also currently testing out an old pair of Mimi’s boots on her mare.  She’s been curious about the Renegades, and really likes how easy they are to put on and take off.  She’s currently got front shoes on her mare, but is bare on the back, and had been looking for a booting option for rockier terrain.

So I’m letting her test out an old pair of Mimi’s.  They definitely got put to the test yesterday, since this mare is young, still pretty green, and somewhat of a “looky” and reactive Arab.  There were several moments that involved some fast maneuvers, spooks, and whirls on the pavement, and when I didn’t have my hands completely full of fire-breathing Pony doing her own spooks, I was able to observe how much traction her boots were providing.  This is a very smart mare, and she quickly figured out how much grip and security she had from the boots, so when she’d spook, her hind end would be securely anchored in place while her front end danced lightly around.

We finished our ride none the worse for the wear, all body parts counted for and no splats on the pavement.  The boots came back with a darker patina of asphalt tar staining on the bottoms, but all fully attached, even through some interesting spooks and antics.

I’ve been a believer in these boots for a long time…and now I’ve got another convert.

4 thoughts on “How Renegades prevented a couple of riders from becoming splats on the pavement

  1. Ashley, what is the life wear on the Renegades if you use them like an endurance rider does? I really like my Gloves A LOT, but the gaiter velcro thing is wearing me down. I always keep my options open. ~ E.G.

  2. When I was actively competing in endurance, I was typically getting ~ 400-500 miles out of a set of boots. Time-wise, I'd typically get 6-8 months out of a pair. The longest a pair lasted me was 10 months. Keep in mind I'm in the Arizona desert, and the footing I primarily ride on (did then and still do when I can actually get out) is granite-based sand, rock, and a lot of hard-packed dirt. This combo is probably one of the fastest-wearing things for the boots. I also booted *every* time I rode, even short training rides, because Mimi isn't housed in an environment that promotes hooves that are tough enough to handle what we face out in the desert.

    I also noticed a distinct correlation in more speed = greater boot life. Not talking racing speeds, but just moving from a primarily walking-based LSD training regime to one that involved more trotting ended up giving me longer wear on boots. My theory is that slower speeds = more times the hoof is in contact with the ground, which means more wear.

    The thing I would have to change out more frequently was the velcro toe straps, because the sand would eventually wear on them. But each pair of boots comes with an extra pair of velcro straps, and I would just make a point of changing out straps before every competition. However, a recent materials change has resulted in velcro that is much sticker, tougher, and longer-lasting.

    Really long-winded reply, but the short answer is a lot of it depends on the type of terrain you ride and how your horse moves. Mimi is *very* hard on boots. If there's a way to damage it or shorten its life expectancy, she will do it. So the fact they've held up as long as they have, over a significant length of time (been using them for five years now), has proven to be a good acid test, at least for me.

  3. This weekend I did a section of “trail” that goes through the fancy neighborhood nearby. It is gravel trail where sidewalk would normally be, then over numerous driveways. It is great to not slip. We did one big “jump and plant” with no slippage, yeah!

    I can address the other question a bit too: I've gotten about 700-800 miles out of my pair I just replaced (which are still fine as backups). I did replace the toe and pastern straps and one cable (and replacement parts are cheap). That is fast miles on dirt/rock trails out west. I did have some retention problems, seemingly solved with more attentiveness to the fit on my part!

  4. That's fantastic mileage! And you're in an area that isn't exactly perfect, soft-duff footing. (Which, BTW, jealous! I absolutely love that area!)

    And once the boots wear out as backups, they still serve to provide extra spare parts.

Thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome!

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