Chapter Six

Fitting Hoof Boots

Chapter Seven

Booting Different Sized Horses

Chapter Eight

Using Hoof Boots for Rehabilitation

Fitting your hoof boots - trouble shooting

Many barefooted horses will benefit from wearing hoof boots

Especially through the transitionary phase after de-shoeing, and sometimes beyond, for example if extra shock absorption is required over challenging surfaces.

Please read our article - 'Fitting Hoof Boots - A Guide' first, and refer to this article for trouble shooting tips

The horse is still sensitive or ‘footy’ with boots

If your horse is still reluctant to walk with boots on, and you have not already, you should consult a vet to rule out the possibility of laminitis or any other hoof-related problem. Ideally, boots should be used with some form of pad designed for that particular boot; for example the 12mm medium comfort pads that Easycare produce.

Lost or broken boots

All good hoof boots are made to withstand a half tonne horse over miles of rugged terrain, but just like a horse can rip off a metal shoe, it is possible to loose a boot. If you loose a boot within the first week, or more than once in the first month, it is most likely the wrong style / shape / size for your horse’s hooves, and you should check the fit with the manufacturer or knowledgeable retailer first, to see if another size of style may be more appropriate.

A common cause for lost boots is for the boot to be too long in the length (common with wider than long hooves that are booted in hoof boots designed for round or longer than wide hooves). This increases the break over, allowing the hind foot to come through and tread on the back of the boot, which can rip it off. If a shorter front boot is not possible (for example, the horse has overly long toes that cannot be shortened at present), booting the back feet can help to even out the break over a little. Over reach boots can also help. Most hoof boots are not designed for turnout, only riding, as they are more likely to be damaged in the field. A horse at liberty [turned out] is more likely to leap about and roll, and is more likely to tread on themselves or catch a boot than a horse under saddle. Hence, the chance of damage is greater in the field. If you need to turn out in boots, choosing a boot that is designed specifically for turnout or fits securely above the hairline usually works best.

Boots wear unevenly or wear out quickly

Most boots will last far longer than metal shoes, but as all horses wear shoes differently, it is the same with boots. If the wear is uneven, you need to make sure you know the reason for this, so talk to your hoof care professional, and discuss if this is normal and correct for your horse, or if it could be a symptom of something that needs addressing. Heavy wear on the toe, or toe dragging, can be a symptom of an overly long toe, or even arthritis further up the leg, so it is best to get the horse checked to rule out any physical problems. The toes of boots can often be reinforced by gluing a piece of rawhide or similar material to the front, which can then be replaced when it has worn away. It should be noted that the sole of an uneven boot should be rebalanced with a rasp (or if possible alternate the boots on the hooves) just as you would a horse’s hoof, to ensure no imbalances creep in to the boot and therefore hoof/leg.

Can boots be used over metal shoes?

Some hoof boots can be used over metal shoes, but you should check if this will invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty first. It must be noted that booting over metal shoes even with pads is of little benefit to the horse, other than to enhance grip and protect the sole from penetration, and will not absorb significant amounts of shock; removing the metal shoes first is the only way to do this!

Won’t my horse come to rely on boots, so I will always have to use them?

No, actually the opposite is the case! Hoof boots with pads will help to improve your horse’s hoof, whilst keeping him comfortable and allowing you to exercise him; you can begin to take the horse out for short rides without boots once his feet are at a suitable stage, and this can gradually be built up to the stage where you do not need the boots. This will of course depend on the terrain you are riding on, and how much work you are managing to do with your horse, as well as how good the diet is and the condition of the hooves; some horses may always need boots to work confidently on some surfaces, but most are able to transition out of boots permanently on a really good barefoot regime. Just keep in mind that if you do go somewhere different and are not aware of the terrain, it is best to boot just in case it is rougher than your horse is used to. So don’t ditch your boots for a while, even if you think you won’t need them again, just in case!

Are there hoof boots to fit every horse?

There are hoof boots on the market to fit very small ponies up to very large heavy horses, and there are a few companies that will make to measure; so in theory, there shouldn’t be a horse that you couldn’t find boots for, if you wanted to! The problem is that made to measure boots can be expensive, and they are all designed to fit a naturally trimmed hoof, so it can be trickier to boot hooves with pathologies or abnormalities. Some boots such as the Swiss Hoof Boots and the Easyboot Glove can be heat fitted around the most difficult hoof shapes as a temporary measure, and a good hoof care professional will be able to help you with this.