Chapter Six

Fitting Hoof Boots

Chapter Seven

Booting Different Sized Horses

Chapter Eight

Using Hoof Boots for Rehabilitation

Alternatives to Hoof Boots

When asked what the alternatives are to hoof boots, there are really only three options – permanently barefoot, shod with some kind of permanent shoe or structure, and the various versions of glue-on boots.

Permanently barefoot Some barefooted horses do not need to wear hoof boots at all – they can cope perfectly well with their workload and management regime without the added protection (from wear) and shock absorption that hoof boots provide. However, this is not achieved by all barefoot horses. The reasons are multiple; maintaining a working horse can take time, effort and considerable resources. The equine’s environment and management regime are key factors – the type of ground he’s turned out on, the amount of turn out he gets, the surfaces he’s worked on, the amount and type of exercise he gets, his breed, and of course factors linked to his trim and diet. Plus, as it is not inconvenient or difficult to put on hoof boots when the horse is exercised, many owners simply like to do so for the added protective and shock absorption benefits that hoof boots bring. Hoof boots increase weight distribution over a wider area on a hard, flat surface, provide shock absorption on concussive surfaces, and can be used when the owner wants extra protection, e.g. if they are tackling a challenging hack or event over uneven terrain.

Remember - the barefoot horse has better circulation than its shod counterparts, partly because by de-shoeing, the frog is able to contact the ground and promote blood flow through the foot, to create a stronger, healthier hoof.

Therefore, one alternative to using hoof boots is certainly to maintain the horse in a permanently–barefoot state, and many owners, including those with working and competing horses, successfully manage to do this. For lots of us, this is an end-goal that we are always aiming for, but which we acknowledge is a journey that takes time, and that hoof boots will help us achieve.

Shoeing Some horse owners obviously choose to keep their horses shod, either on all four feet or sometimes, just the forefeet. There are various reasons for shoeing – they include: habit, a lack of education about the benefits of barefoot horsecare, a lack of time to dedicate to successfully managing a barefoot horse, or perhaps physiological or veterinary reasons whereby shoes have been recommended. Obviously we advocate that each equine case is considered on its own merit, and of course, anyone that does shoe their horse can always look forward to having them removed in future and embarking on a barefoot journey! Remember though that the barefooted horse has better circulation than its shod counterparts, and that metal horse shoes detrimentally focus weight upon the hoof wall, leading to abnormal loading of weight on the outer edge of the hoof wall.

(There are glue on shoes available, but we would still class the horse that wears these as ‘shod’, for the reasons stated above, and because they are permanent, as opposed to temporary like a hoof boot. The benefits of glue over nails are that the integrity of the hoof wall is less compromised, because it has not been driven into, with metal).

Glue on boots Glue on hoof boots offer a more robust option for many horses than hoof boots with fixtures and straps, and are notably used as an option for horses in speed and long distance events. They are ideal for multi day events, as they don’t need to be re-applied, and offer an obviously close fit, to prevent rubbing or twisting. The Easyboot Glue-On is a good example – it has a flexible shell and a seamless design. It is recommended that they should not be left on for more than ten days in a dry environment, or five days in a wet, humid environment.

Another option is the Renegade Pro-Comp Glue-On boot, which claims to provide an easily installed alternative to a strap-on hoof boot. Primarily intended for competition use, they are flexible, durable and long lasting and have shown to remain well attached for weeks at a time – although in our minds, this would not be an objective!

A lovely modern hoof boot, if you are looking to maintain a barefoot regime and ‘boot up’ when necessary, is the New Mac hoof boots from Easycare