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Booting Barefoot Horses FAQ’s


How to choose the correct hoof boots for your barefoot horse.

1. Measure your horses hooves

Within 7 days of a fresh trim (suitable for a working barefoot horse) measure your horses width and length in mm. Width is taken at the widest point of the horses hoof (normally approximately ½ way or slightly over ½ way 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. It is helpful to hold a straight edge across the back of the heel buttresses and the measure from the toe, bisecting the frog to the line you have formed. If you horse has very upright or under run heels, you will need to envisage where the heel should be if the hoof were more normal conformation, and take your measurements to that point, and not the actual termination of the horny heel.

2. Once you have determined the width and length of the hooves you wish to boot, either Contact us or review the information below to ascertain which shape most closely describes them. From the information given, you will find recommendations for your horses hoof shape, but if your horse is between shapes, or has one hoof one shape and one the other, look at as many recommended hoof boots as possible and choose the hoof boots that most closely fit the hooves. You are aiming for a close as fit as possible, with both the width and length of the hooves fitiing into the measurements for the same size of boot. If the feet are very different and not a pair, try to choose boots that accommodate both hooves adequately, and not one that fits one hoof perfectly to the detriment of the other. If in any doubt Contact us for assistance!

My horse has his width in one size, and length in the next size up/down, which size should I choose?

If one measurement is in the smaller size, and one in the larger size, you must go for the large size or ideally look to see if another hoof boot is more appropriate. If you go for the smaller boot in this instance, you risk rubbing or not being able to get the boot on at all. If in doubt, we would always advise you to contact us via our specialist hoof boot enquiry form Here and our booting expert will be able to help.

My horses measurements are at the top of one size and the bottom of the next size up, which size will work best?

If the width and length fit into both sizes, go for the smaller size as this will offer the closest fit and we have found that they work best with a tight width in particular. If however, your horse has fleshy heel bulbs, is big boned or has very underrun heels, you may find the larger size a better fit. If you have a longer than recommended trim interval (ideally you trim frequently enough to never need nippers) then again the larger size may be more appropriate.

Can I return the boots if I buy them and they do not fit or I don’t like them for any reason?

welcome to return the boots for a full refund as long as they are restored to us in the same condition we sent them in. We attach instructions to every boot to explain how to try it for size and keep it pristine, boots that are tried without care and are returned with any marks or dirt on unfortunately cannot be refunded (this does not effect your statutory rights).

I like a certain hoof boot but my horses measurements don’t really fit into any of the sizes, can I still use it?

Every type of hoof boot as its merits, but a hoof boot that fit’s the size and shape of the horses foot most closely is more likely to give miles of stress free riding than a hoof boot that doesn’t fit properly. Even the best boots are likely to fail if the size or hoof shape they are being used on is not right for them, as they tend to get trodden on or fall off/break so it is better to choose one that, although not your first choice appearance wise, you know is a good fit measurement wise.

Can I use hoof boots over shoes for a shod horse?

Hoof boots were not primarily designed to be used over metal horse shoes as this can cause excessive wear or damage to the boots, but some people do use them with success for example on old or injured horses, or those requiring protection whilst travelling. The old mac G2 normally fares best if they are to be used for long periods and turnout, but in all cases using boots over shod hooves (or for any purpose other than for which they were primarily designed) will more than likely invalidate any warranty that may be offered by the hoof boot manufacturer.

Can I turn my horse out or keep him stabled in hoof boots?

Most hoof boots have been designed for working barefoot horses, and horses under saddle are normally more in control than horses at liberty, so there is a much greater risk of damage when using the boots for something other than what they were designed for. However, one boot , the Easyboot Transition, has been designed to be used for full turnout and many hoof boots will work for turnout or when stabled, but this is done at the owners discretion and with the knowledge that it could invalidate any warranties supplied with the boots unless the boots specifically state they are suitable for full field turnout for example. The RX is a therapy boot that is sold for light turnout (yard or round pen for example) and the Transition although a riding boot can be used for the same purpose. We also have many customers that use the Old Mac G2 for full turnout and they do seem to generally fare well being used during non ridden situations. It is possible the transition could in some cases be considered for full turnout too as they are a very sturdy boot with good fastenings like the Mac. The only caveat to any of these solutions is that there is a greater chance of the boot getting damaged or pulled off in non ridden situations, particularly when rolling or in high jinks, and it should be remembered that no warranty covers the horse actually damaging or breaking the boot. In comparison, shod horses are also more likely to loose shoes in the field than when being ridden for the same reasons!

Can I boot just the fronts or hinds of my horse and leave the others bare/shod?

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to boot just a pair of feet (but never one hoof of a pair, or one front and one back) as the fronts and hinds serve different purposes to the horse. It is common in approx 75% of cases that only the front (weight bearing) hooves need protection, and the hinds are comfortable without. With driving horses it is often the reverse as the hinds do so much pushing they need the protection more than the fronts! As a rule if your horse is feeling his feet (or you need to protect the hoof from excess wear to prevent soreness) boot them, if not don’t.

Can you jump and do everything you can with a shod horse when wearing hoof boots?

Yes, with the correct hoof boots correctly fitted (this is paramount!) there is no reason why your horse cannot gallop, jump, splash through rivers and everything besides as you would with him shod.

What are the best boots for long periods or riding/ endurance?

The Easycare range such as the Glove and Epic are ideally suited to performance horse work, as they are lightweight and fit below the hairline. If your horses feet fit this style of hoof boot we would always recommend them first, but often the foot shape is such that another style is more suitable in which case that is the best boot. Every hoof boot can perform well for long periods, boots that fit above the coronet band may require you to protect the horse from potential rubbing, but this is little trouble compared to a Glove or Epic that doesn’t fit properly because of the foot shape and is ripped off or lost on a regular basis!

Can I use studs with hoof boots?

Yes, we do sell studs for use with hoof boots, but advise they should only be used on soft surfaces as with any stud. There are small ‘ice studs’ and slightly larger (but only to the size of traditional road studs) Easyboot studs that can help to provide traction when required.

Will hoof boots stay on in deep mud/water?

As long as the boot fits well and is correctly fitted, there is no more chance of loosing a hoof boot than there is loosing a metal shoe in mud or water.

Do I have to use the same make of hoof boots on all 4 feet?

No, you boot the horses feet as pairs, and as the front feet are usually a different shape from the hinds, you will sometimes find one style of boot will fit the front feet and a different style is more suitable for the hinds.

What are Comfort pads and when should I use them in hoof boots?

Being a flat surface, if your horse is going to be doing a lot of his ‘miles’ a day in boots we would always recommend considering pads. For example, if your horse is turned out in a square field 8 hours a day, and ridden for 1 hour a day it would be good to use pads. He will probably only cover 2-3 miles in a small field, but could cover as much on a slow hack or 2-3 times that distance on an energetic one.

Hooves respond to stimulus, so if the miles come from a flat surface, the hoof will not gain the same benefit as from a more supportive surface such as good turf, (or in the case of boots, a good pad). The 12mm black medium density Easycare and Old Mac comfort pads were independently tested to have the same therapeutic effect as pea gravel so using these will make those booted miles a lot more beneficial to the hooves than the flat surface of the boot alone. If however, your horse was on a track system covering more than 10 miles a day, and you were only hacking 2-3 miles a day, the need for pads is diminished as the majority of the miles are already on ‘good going’- but pads would of course still be of benefit for the 2-3 miles if they were to be used.

It is also important to use a softer pad for a horse that is sore or has very flat hooves as these help to cushion and protect the hoof, allowing it to heal and helping the horse to feel a lot less sore.

It should be noted that not all hoof boots will work with all pads, so if in doubt, do contact us for advice. Also, all pads are not created equal, there are some pads that will not give the same therapeutic effects as others have been shown to give so again do contact us to ascertain the best pads for your horse is you are unsure.

Should I go up a size if I am going to use hoof comfort pads or sole mates?

If you are using any of the hoof boots we sell with the comfort pads (12mm or 6mm) that we also sell to go with them, you should not need to alter the size you need to buy. This means when you no longer need to use the pads, the boots will still be a good fit. Solemates sometimes supplied by trimmers for hoof improvement vary greatly and can be 1” or more thick- the hoof boots have not been designed to be used with pads this thick and you may need to go up a size to accommodate their thickness, we always advise that you consult your trimmer in this situation first.

How do I know if the hoof boots fit properly?

Each style of hoof boot we sell comes with comprehensive fitting instructions and pointers to tell if the hoof boot is fitting correctly. Universally good tests are to try putting the bottom of the hoof against the outside bottom of the hoof boot to see where the hoof will be sitting in there and if it looks a neat fit, and when the boot is on it is usual for the boot to not be able to turn more than 5 degrees wither way (the boot should move with the hoof). Sometimes the only real test is to ride or work the horse in them which is why we always advise you to hire hoof boots from us first if you are at all unsure.

How long do hoof boots last?

Hoof boots are very durable, and on average will outlast steel shoes 3:1. Add to that the fact that most horses will not be wearing them 24hrs a day and they really can be a significantly cheaper option than shoeing in the long term! Some horses are very hard on their boots (as they are with shoes) and action, conformation and terrain all play a part but the average seems to be 6 months-1 year for a pair, the most extreme cases we have seen were 2 weeks (the horse dragged its toes and brushed due to a very poor action) and over 4 years for a horse hacking lightly across the moors a couple of times a week.

How do I know when to replace the hoof boots with new ones?

As long as the hoof boots fit well, are undamaged, and do not rub plus have sufficient tread to give good grip there is no reason to buy a new pair.