I think the answer is NO.
She has performed very well barefoot and I plan to continue to do all my conditioning bare and if I do a LD I would most likely do that bare too. She can do it and she can do it well. I just don't think I want to ask her to do another 50 miles barefoot.
I talked at length to the new farrier about my options. He is not a barefoot trimmer and is very much pro steel. In his opinion, it is more cost effective and no less stressful to Gem to throw steel shoes with nails on her prior to a ride and remove them right after. I didn't 100% agree with that and asked him a bunch of questions about the nail holes, change in strain on her ligaments, weight etc... He stayed firm in his belief that given the rock hardness of her hoof walls and sole that she could easily withstand steel shoes nailed on a day or two prior to a ride and then removed once we got home. Since I only do 2-3 rides in the year this wouldn't be an issue. If I was doing a whole lot more or riding closer together he would just keep shoes on her throughout the season and remove them once I was done.
This route is being held in the "in case every thing else out there fails" category. I just don't want to poke nail holes in her lovely feet just yet.
That leaves with me with a few options:
- Strap on boots
- Glue on boots
- Glue on shoes
That leaves me with glue on shoes and I have been researching options. After looking at various options I have decided to give the Easy Care Sport shoe a try. I want a shoe that doesn't cover the frog and their other lines all do. Technically the shoe can be left in place just like a steel one for the entire cycle, but can't be re used do to the glue residue. I'd slap them on her a day or two before the ride and remove them when we returned home. I'm not looking forward to the $41 a piece price tag nor the hassle of removing all that glue from her hoof afterward, but I think for now it is my best option.
I asked FD (Farrier Dude) if she would need to have them placed a certain period of time prior to a ride to allow her to adjust to wearing them and he didn't think so. I think I would like to put them on and get some conditioning in them to see how she moves before toeing the starting line and ruining my entire ride.
On one hand I don't want to waste $165 on a set of shoes to ride around the grassy barn. Seems stupid to me. Since they last an entire cycle (supposedly) I could potentially place them on her a month prior to the ride and use them to condition that last month, but if they weaken or start to loosen in that time then I would need to very quickly remove these ones, sand down the glue residue, order new ones and get them placed. Too stressful before a first ride in them.
What I think I may do....
I have a RnT planned for early May on my favorite local trails. The hubby and I will be doing the 30 miler. The trails are mostly single track through the woods with roots, some gravel road, creek crossings and clay. Since I wont have a lot invested in the ride (no camping, less expensive entry fee, minimal gas, no extra food) I may order my first set 2-3 week prior to this ride. That will give me time to get them on her and test them out before hand so that if they are really messing her up I can rip them off and still go to the ride. If they stay on this gives me a great chance to test them out to see how she moves with them on since I am extremely familiar with how she moves on this terrain with them off.
I have a set of 4 boots I don't currently use at all because they were too wide for her hoof and rubbed her. They are the Fusion Jogging Boots which I really like in theory, but just don't fit her. If I sell those I could pay for the shoes for this ride.
This just might work....