Chapter Six

Fitting Hoof Boots

Chapter Seven

Booting Different Sized Horses

Chapter Eight

Using Hoof Boots for Rehabilitation

Description of Hoof Boots

Today, many barefoot horses will benefit from the use of modern hoof boots, especially through the transitionary phase [after de shoeing] and sometimes beyond.

Modern hoof boots are used to increase weight distribution over a wider area on a hard, flat surface - they provide shock absorption on concussive surfaces and are used by many horse owners just through the transitionary process - e.g. when the horse is de-shod, until he is comfortable and has strong, conditioned feet.

A horse that is booted for one or two hours a day has all the advantages of modern hoof protection when they need it. Even when booted (in correctly-fitting hoof boots), a horse’s hoof function is not effected as it is in metal shoes, so the hoof is still ‘bare’ in essence, as far as the horse’s body and the hoof function is concerned, when wearing hoof boots.

Boots of various descriptions have been around for around 40 years or more; one of the first and most notable being the Easyboot invented by Dr Neel Glass, a nuclear physicist. The horse he and his wife had purchased for his daughters was diagnosed with navicular disease, and conventional shoeing with heel wedges was not helping. Dr Glass found the horse was much better without the restriction and shock of steel shoes, so began training as a farrier, and went about designing a hoof protection boot. He began testing hoof boot prototypes, and by the end of 1971 had patents in place for the pattern.

Hoof boots not only give total protection to the sole, but with the use of specialist pads inside the boots, replicate the support and feedback that the horse would receive when worked barefoot on good going, such as soft turf, sand or any other surface that offers solar support.

The fixings on hoof boots are usually such that the boot is able to flex or move, or the fixing is able to flex and move with the horse’s hoof capsule as it expands and contracts, thus allowing the hoof to work naturally. Horses will usually land heel first almost immediately in a boot, even if they did not in a metal shoe, immediately allowing the hoof to work more effectively, increasing circulation and building up the digital cushion more rapidly. This is one of the reasons that they are so valuable in the transitioning phase, when taking a horse out of shoes, or when rehabilitating a badly trimmed horse.

There are many types available, from entry-level versions with Velcro fittings that are ideal for leisure riders, to more sporty versions that are used over long distances or in endurance rides. Many boots are black in colour and discreet, although there are some brightly coloured versions available for those who like to make a statement.

Speak to a specialist retailer about what would suit your horse’s hoof shape and workload.

Some popular boots are:

Easyboot Trail Hoof Boot is a very easy to use hoof boot, supplied in singles to allow you to fit each hoof correctly. This superb value hoof boot has been designed to allow for up to 6 weeks growth for most horses and is recommended for medium distance riding- upto 25 miles per week (usually an average of 1 - 1 1/2 hours a day) so ideal for most leisure riders.

 

The New Mac hoof boot is the latest generation of hoof boots from Easycare. Based on the original and best-selling Old Mac multipurpose hoof boots, the New Mac has a unique high-tech performance outer sole, incorporating the unique hoof suspension system. The sole of the hoof boot is constructed from a specially developed ThermoPlastic Urethane (TPU) compound, which absorbs shock and aids recovery from concussion related injuries, as well as helping to prevent them. The sole of the New Mac affords excellent traction but without any risk of jarring of the leg. It also features a re-engineered back strap in high quality hook and loop instead of the buckle, making the boot much easier to use.