Chapter Six

Fitting Hoof Boots

Chapter Seven

Booting Different Sized Horses

Chapter Eight

Using Hoof Boots for Rehabilitation

Hoof boot brands

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.

Here are the main brands of hoof boots for barefoot horses:

Easycare

When nuclear physicist DR Neel Glass invented the first modern hoof boot for barefoot horses as we know it, he pioneered the concept of temporary hoof coverage. Easycare as the largest manufacturer has over 20 styles in its range for therapy, leisure and performance use - they include, for leisure horses: the Transition, Glove Back Country, Old Mac G2, New Mac and Epic, and for performance, the Glove, Epic and Glue-on. There is definitely a style for everyone within this range, and the company has over forty years’ of in-depth research and development to their name.

What they say about themselves:

“What began in 1970 with the invention of the first Easyboot by Dr. Neel Glass to help a beloved family horse suffering from navicular disease has since evolved into an entire line of hoof boots that provide an excellent alternative to iron shoes. We're a company that cares deeply about horses and we will continue to develop products that provide comfort, support and performance for our equine partners. We are more committed than ever to continue to create innovative hoof boot designs with features and options that will allow horse owners to provide a natural hoofcare solution for their horses.”

Cavallo

Cavallo has a range of boots for barefoot horses that are renowned for being a cost-effective option - they include the Sport, Trek, Simple, ELB and BFB hoof boots. The Trek is probably the most performance-based hoof boot from Cavallo - it boasts industrial grade Velcro closures, a moulded-in back flap for bulb protection and abrasion resistance, built-in drainage, and clever reflective markings. The popular sole has exellent traction while still allowing natural movement. The ‘Big Foot Boot’ (BFB) in the range is a welcome addition for owners of larger horses.

What they say about themselves:

“Cavallo is home to the most popular hoof boots in the world. [Ours is] the most economical alternative to metal horse shoes. Cavallo horse boots are easy to size, easy to fit and easy to care for – the simplest, safest, most comfortable hoof boots in the world.”

Equine Fusion

This relatively new brand has the ethos that ‘Horse and rider should be treated as equals’, stating that the company was named after that belief: ‘Equine Fusion, fusing horse and rider as one.’ The company has the Ultra, Ultimate and Terrain boots in its range. They are ideal for barefoot horse owners that are new to hoof boots, or have a barefoot horse or pony that is slightly tricky to fit, due to the boots’ forgiving nature and ease of fitting. The Ultimate Equine Fusion jogging shoes are sold in singles, so you can match the size you need to each individual hoof.

What they say about themselves:

“Equine Fusion was founded in order to develop a shoe that would work with the anatomy of the hoof, creating natural balance, stability and dampening. The goal was to make a shoe that could give hoof protection in the most natural and comfortable manner for the horse. The result was the Jogging Shoes, which were developed by a dedicated, multi-skilled team consisting of engineers in cooperation with veterinarians, renowned horse trainers, hoof trimmers and experts in shoe material and construction.”

Renegades

Renegade hoof boots are instantly recognisable with their heel captivator section at the rear, and a range of eye catching colours in metallic and primary shades. Claiming the accolade of ‘The World’s Highest Performing Hoof Boots’, the Renegade is certainly popular, and has been proven to excel over long distances. Interestingly, the manufacturers have a model with traction studs for use on ice, snow, slippery grass and leaves, which neatly addresses concerns from horse owners who compete barefoot on grass surfaces. The brand has the original Rrenegade hoof boot and the Viper boot within its range. The modern Viper is, despite having the more robust tread, about 15% lighter than the original Renegade hoof boot, and has more lateral clearance on both the hoof boot shell and the heel captivator.

What they say about themselves

“The Renegade Hoof Boot Is the result of a quest which lasted over three calendar years and consumed an estimated 20,000 ‘man hours’ of development time, coupled with simultaneous field-testing by over a dozen competition endurance-horse and rider teams covering thousands and thousands of training and competition miles. The Renegade Hoof Boot is the most thoroughly developed and most highly tested new hoof boot design ever. The boot design highly respects the soft tissue of the [equine] hoof capsule and lower leg.”

Floating Hoof Boots

Another relatively recent addition to the market, Floating Hoof Boots are designed to be form fitted to the horse’s hoof where required, and are the only hoof boot made to fit a front or hind foot shape. Floating boots are one of the most modern performance hoof boots, designed in Spain in conjunction with a vet, and have been used for top level endurance. Floating boots are particularly suited to barefoot horse owners who are more confident with hoof boots and are looking for a very lightweight, high performance hoof boot. The centre of the boot has an innovative lattice which allows the boot to naturally flex with the hoof as the horse takes a step, and the design of the boot ensures that water is expelled as the horse moves out of the body of water.

What they say about themselves:

“Throughout recent years, our search for a real alternative to the traditional form of horse hoof protection has been untiring. Our [Floating Hoof Boot] models contribute to less weight, more comfort , are environmentally friendly and are conducive to the biomechanics of the animal. The boots are very lightweight at 200 grams, totally ergonomic and adaptable, manufactured with recyclable materials, with the flexibility to adapt not only to the hoof, but also to irregularities in the terrain.”