HN Contributor Erin McCabe really doesn’t like bellboots. Like, she is really not a fan. At all. (Except for the pedal kind, which she can’t find anywhere anymore–those are OK.)
I pulled the bell boots out today after writing yet another $20 check to my farrier to replace my mare’s right front shoe. After he reminded me of the inexplicable magic of bell boots at preventing said pulled shoes (I mean, the bell boots don’t even really go down to the ground. And they’re just rubber. How do they even work?). I had thought that since I’d moved her from a hilly, fetlock-deep mudhole with slippery clay for soil to a gently rolling, grassy pasture with decomposed granite for soil that our shoe-pulling woes were a thing of the past. I mean, decomposed granite is what arena bases are made of, right?
But then it rained. Just a little. And although there is no mud to speak of in her pasture, still, the shoe came off and I was left kicking myself for my idealistic dream.
Why didn’t I just pull out the bell boots sooner? You know, like in November or December when winter is supposed to begin.
Because I hate bell boots.
Actually, that’s not true. I once loved bell boots. As in, back in the nineties when I evented my loudly spotted Appy mare in petal bell boots. It makes me almost wax rhapsodic just thinking of those petal bell boots. OK, yes, they’re noisy. But you can mix and match colors! You can replace broken petals and straps! I have never cursed the faulty Velcro of a petal bell boot. But also, more importantly: I have never once had an epic battle trying to pull on a petal bell boot.
Here’s me today: pulling, grunting, swearing, tweaking my horse’s leg uncomfortably until she stomps it down only to have the boot go rolling away. Picking up her hoof again, yanking, twisting, sweating, trying to use the hoof pick as a lever, questioning my physical strength. I try dousing the bell boot in hot water to make it warm and stretchy. I try leaving it in the sun. Again with the pulling and grunting until finally I feel the scrape of horseshoe nail against my knuckle and am masochistically pleased because it means I have made a fraction of an inch of progress. Eventually, I manage to get the bell boot on the right front and figure, given Murphy’s law, I ought to put a bell boot on the left front. Plus, I’m feeling better now that I’ve beaten the bell boot. That’s before I ripped two bell boots in half (the brand new “sturdy” one and last year’s cracking one). At least now I don’t have to question my physical strength, but I’m back to not just hating bell boots but also questioning the existence of pull-on bell boots.
The problem is, I can never find petal bell boots in the local tack shop. I never see them in the catalogs that show up in my mailbox. I hear rumors of their existence, but I never see any horses wearing them. Where are these petal bell boots? Am I the only one who still loves them?
A quick internet search finds that Tuff Rider makes them and Bit of Britain and Horseloverz.com carry them… but what? No green?! And then I realize that if I give in and buy boring black to put on my boring bay, I have to grapple with getting the stupid pull-on bell boots off. But at least when I rip them in half in the process, I won’t have to feel too bad about it because I’ll have brand new flappy strappy petal boots to put back on.
Yeah, you’ll hear me coming. But really, since when were horses ever sneaky?