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Firstly when choosing hoof boots for barefoot horses, you need to establish the right size.
You should measure your horse or pony’s hooves within seven days of a fresh trim, taking the width and length in mm. Width is taken at the widest point of the hoof (normally approximately halfway or slightly over halfway towards the heel from the toe). The length is taken to be the weight bearing surface of the hoof; do not include the frog/fleshy part of the heel.
Booting heavy horses
We all know that while physical height and size typically determines whether or not an equine is considered a horse or a pony, their temperament and other aspects of their physical make-up also count. So it isn’t as easy as saying that horses are just bigger than ponies, and that heavy horses are simply even bigger than their ‘average’ equine counterparts!
Horses are usually (but not exclusively) 14.3hh and over. Draught horses have traditionally tended to perform agricultural and haulage work, although today, many sport horses have Draught blood within them.
Large equine breeds can have quite wide feet. Hoof guru Pete Ramey, writing on hoofrehab.com, says - “It is so difficult to keep well-connected hoof walls on draught horses.” Farrier Don Chandler, writing on wolfmanorestate.com, says - “Draught horses tend to have fairly low angled side walls compared to a saddle horse’s feet. This conformation combined with the great weight that a draught horse’s feet bears means... the feet have a strong tendency to flare out towards the ground surface.”
It is fair to say that the choice of hoofboots for barefoot horses becomes smaller as the feet get larger and wider! If you are booting up a horse that has hooves that are over 10mm wider than longer - which can be seen in fully transitioned Draught horses - the risk is that you will buy a boot that is realistically a size too large - so speak to the retailer or manufacturer about what boot would work best.
(Bear in mind that excess flare, perhaps in a horse fairly recently out of horse shoes, can also give the impression of a very wide hoof, when really this is ‘excess’ width that will be corrected. With these hoof shapes, do make sure the width is as tight and close as possible within the measurement guide, to grip the hoof, and keep the break over at the toe as short as possible.)
While many owners of barefoot Draught horses may curse the smaller choice of hoof boots available, it is fun to note that these horses actually pioneered the use of hoof boots for barefoot equines. Buckled hoof boots were quite widely used on the bare hooves of large working horses’ feet in the 19th century. The UK’s Museum of Leathercraft in Northampton has some large hoof boots in its collection that “Were used to increase grip over all types of terrain, and on uneven and slippery surfaces such as cobbled streets.” The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Chichester in England also has some 19th century buckled leather draught hoof boots in its archives.
A really nice modern hoof boot for larger hooves is the Old Mac G2. The largest size, 12, goes up to 165mm - 175mm wide by 170-180mm long.
The Easyboot Epic is definitely an epic hoof boot for barefoot horses at its largest size - this boot goes up to a size 7, which is 176mm-192mm wide by 189-195mm long.