Some facts to keep in mind:
1) These boots are one size larger in both width and length than those I had tried prior to her injury.
2) They have been sitting, untested, in my closet since arriving.
3) Her hoof shape is not ideal nor is it the same as when I ordered them. Her heels need worked down some, the toes brought back a bit and the mustang roll made a little more aggressive. All in all though, the shape should work fine as her hoof continues to grow and be used.
The front left was a good fit in both length and width. If anything it was a tad too short, but once I bring that toe back and the heel down a little more the hoof will seat into the shell better. I had to lengthen the cables a little to get the captivator to sit where it needed to be without being too tight, but other than that it seemed to work. There was enough wiggle room in all aspects of the shell, cable and captivator that I could accommodate any changes in the future. I was really pleased with it and moved on to her front right with a heaping dose of optimism.
Below is a front view of her front right. The toe strap actually has the perfect amount of left over strap and the pastern strap was to two fingers tightness.
The first thing I want to point out is the new hoof growth. She has already grown in a ton of hoof in a short amount of time. There is a very distinct ridge of stronger, thicker and wider hoof wall demarcated by the green and yellow arrows.
Also note the added width to the new hoof wall shown by drawing a black line up the old hoof wall. There is a good difference in the overall width of her hoof growing in.
This is interesting for a few reasons. First, you can see just how badly the hoof was affected by that fiberglass cast she was placed in for over a month. It had to be done for wound healing, so I am not complaining. I just didn't realize what it was doing to her hoof.
Second, I would bet that she will go through a period of time mid-late winter where the boot won't be usable at all. As that new growth creeps downward it will eventually hit the top part of the shell. This will make the shell bulge at the new growth and not make contact (or at least fit very poorly) with the old hoof below it. She grows hoof fast, but I would except to not be using the boots for a good 2-3 months as the wider new hoof slides below the shell.
Third, this makes me wonder if she will even fit in this size at all once the new hoof is fully in. I originally thought I might need to use her smaller hind boot on this front hoof until it grew out, but now I am wondering if I will have to order a size wider next spring.
The lateral hoof wall was snug up against the shell and fit smoothly all the way around. The new growth is still a good chunk away from the shell at this time.
However, there was a gap along the medial side wall shown with the green and yellow arrow below. I had lengthened the cable equally as well as pulling equally on both sides when tightening the toe strap. At first, I was really curious as to what was going on here, but then I figured it out.
It all has to do with her heel bulb. The surgeon did an amazing job putting her back together, but the medial heel bulb isn't normal anymore. It may still remodel over time, but it will never be perfectly shaped. As it is now, the medial heel bulb sits a little higher and is a bigger bulge than the lateral one.
The captivator did fit but was tight on the medial side and pulled up her sparse hair. Since the captivator was not able to sit well this was not allowing the shell to function either. After I took this picture, I lengthened the cable a little more.
Below is her front left as a comparison.
Once situated the captivator did find a good home on her, but I was worried it wouldn't be a good long term fit.
Not seeing any glaring reasons not to, I untied her and headed to the round pen to see her move. Unfortunately there was someone in there. Instead I took Gem to the track around the gelding pasture. We walked and she was a little strange at first. She moved a bit stiff and I thought I could see a head bob. Uh oh. I asked her to trot and she did the same. A little funny movement, a slight head bob or two and I was about to cry.
Then I remembered that she moved really funny the first time I tried them on her as well. Like she didn't know what was going on or if she could move normally in these new strange boots. I asked her to move out a bit more and she settled in.
I watched her like a hawk and at one point ran as hard as I could to entice her into a canter, but she just lengthened her stride beautifully and kept on trotting. By the time we were a half mile in she was heel first landing, relaxed and there was no trace of any odd movement remaining.
At the end of the mile long track, I stopped by the trailer to inspect the boots. They hadn't twisted, turned or come loose. Good.
Wandering back to the round pen, I noticed the girl had vanished. I really wanted to watch her move more closely and get her to canter as well, so we entered and I asked her to move out. She w/t/c both directions (a whole new post on this because there is something important to talk about but isn't boot related). Afterward I inspected the boots and they hadn't shifted, twisted, turned or anything else. Overall a good first fitting attempt.
Late last night (I think around 9:30 or 10) I shot Renegade an email with the pictures and my thoughts. I think the shells fit as good as they could: going up would be too big and down too small. My only concern was over the captivator on the front right. While there were no signs of rubbing, we only did 1 mile of w/t and a few turns at the canter in the round pen. No mud, no water, no sustained pace and no hills. Her skin back there is new and fragile and rubbing would be bad.
I didn't except an answer until mid day today at the earliest. Of course, Renegade being as absolutely fantastic as they are, responded nearly immediately. I love Ashley. She agreed that the captivator could be a problem and recommended going up to the medium size. She also suggested that I may need to have the cables adjusted unevenly on this shell with a longer length to the medial side to allow the large heel bulb more room and a shorter length on the lateral side. I would have never thought of that. It will be a test of my handiness once it comes in I change it out on my shell, but hopefully it solves the problem and we can get back to business.
I still have to try her hinds on her, but that goes along with my other story and will have to wait until another day at the barn.