From Endurance to Dressage
I love my Ariat Volants; they are super comfortable and wear more like running shoes than tall boots. Except…
I've been wearing them for almost a year, and I still get rubs at the top of my heels. I've dealt with the problem by layering mole foam inside the boots. I have to use two layers of the foam or else it becomes painful to walk. And even with the foam, I can't wear them all day. This isn't really a problem for me as I only wear them for a few hours at a time anyway.
The mole foam strategy works well, but I do have to replace the worn out foam every couple of months. I was content to keep using this plan until my trainer gave a pair of Equifit Gel Bands as her gift for our barn party's gift exchange.
I like to think that I know every product from Smartpak; I am a long time customer, but I had never heard of these. They come in either a tall band (one per package) or as a pair in a shorter length. The short bands are five inches long. Both sizes run $25.95. I ordered the shorter pair.
The outside material, "a unique stretchable fabric," feels and looks like an ace bandage. They're pretty stretchy with a compression feel. The inside of the band is "lined with a polymer gel." The packaging claims that "these supportive wraps gradually release a soothing mineral oil into the skin." The bands are washable and reusable. The package doesn't say for how many uses/hours the gel will release its "soothing mineral oil," but it certainly can't be forever.
The gel band was fairly easy to put on, but it doesn't slide like a sock. I had to stretch it open and place it where I needed it. The package instructs the user to wear them next to skin, but at least one reviewer wrote that she wears them over her socks. The gel bands can be cut to size as well.
I've worn the gel bands several times, placing them differently on my foot each time. For the initial trial, I wore them over my heel as seen in the photo. They were super comfortable, but when I took them off, they were worn thin at the heel and a bit stretched out. After sitting on my dresser for a day though, the shape did return.
The next few times that I wore them, I placed them at the very bottom of my heel so that I wasn't stretching them out or stepping on them. They were comfortable in that position, and my boots didn't rub, but I only wore my boots for an hour with little walking around. I don't know how effective they'll be with longer wear, say at a show.
The gel didn't both me at all, and once I was walking around and riding, I completely forgot the bands were even on my feet. When I took them off, the gel bands were pretty warm, but my ankles were cool. There was no residue from the mineral oil, and I didn't have any kind of a reaction.
Overall, I hope these work, but I suspect that I will simply wear them out too quickly. At $25.00 a pop, I wouldn't want to replace them more than once a year. Mole foam is cheap, works well, and doesn't need to be put on each day. Since I ride five to seven days a week, I don't know if the gel bands can stand up to that kind of wear. I'll let you know how they look in a month.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: