Chapter Six

Fitting Hoof Boots

Chapter Seven

Booting Different Sized Horses

Chapter Eight

Using Hoof Boots for Rehabilitation

Hoof Boots For Unshod Horses

Many experts believe that horse shoes can potentially increase concussive damage, which is a considerable issue when the ground is hard, because shoes hold the frog off the ground.

Thus, shoes reduce blood circulation through the hoof and are said to contribute to physiological damage to the supporting limbs and structures.

Many barefoot advocates use horse boots, to protect their horses’ feet in certain circumstances. Mike Chawke of Ireland’s Little Farm Stud, an RF(BngC), MF(IMFA), CE-F qualified farrier, is not convinced that all equines need nailed-on shoes. “Why not leave your animal in its natural state and simply fit hoof boots when they ride?” Mike says.

An increasing number of horse owners are therefore considering the barefoot regime and are reading all the fascinating information available relating to the benefits of barefoot hoof care for equines. For example, horse shoes are also said by many experts to load excess weight on the hoof wall; the greater the load, the worse the blood flow throughout the hoof capsule. Barefoot advocates maintain that by taking the horse’s shoes off, the frog is no longer held off the ground, so the load is relieved by transferring some of the load to the horse’s sole. Because solar loading appears to promote blood flow through the foot, this promotes a strong, healthy hoof – many owners of barefoot horses cannot believe how much ‘freer’ and less ‘footy’ their horses are once they have made the transition to barefoot.

Lots of barefoot horses 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.

Hoof boots not only give total protection to the sole of the barefoot horse, 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.

Horses will usually land heel first almost immediately in a hoof 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. 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 hoof 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.

USEFUL TIP

Many barefoot horses benefit from modern hoof boots, especially through the transitionary phase [after de shoeing] and sometimes beyond.