Chapter Six

Fitting Hoof Boots

Chapter Seven

Booting Different Sized Horses

Chapter Eight

Using Hoof Boots for Rehabilitation

Measuring for hoof boots - when your horses’ feet are different sizes

Firstly when choosing boots, you need to establish the right size.

You should measure your horses hooves within seven days of a fresh trim, taking the width and length in mm. Width is taken at the widest point of the horse’s 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.

Top tip

It is helpful for accuracy to hold a straight edge (like a short ruler) across the back of the heel buttresses and also across the toe area, 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.

Once you have determined the width and length of the hooves you wish to boot, contact your retailer for advice, as they will know what type of boots would suit your horse’s feet. You are aiming for a close a fit as possible, with both the width and length of the hooves fitting into the measurements for the same size of boot.

When your horse’s feet are different sizes

It is not widely known that while hoof symmetry does tend to match the other hoof of the pair as a mirror image to the naked eye, there are always differences and tiny variations of the hooves’ measurements, albeit in fraction-of-an-inch increments. The horse’s white line tells the hoofcare practitioner the shape of the foot, and this is what should be followed in terms of maintaining form - not trying to ‘match’ the opposite hoof to create a visual matching pair, and certainly not rasping or trimming away a hoof that is larger or longer than the other hoof in the pair, for good aesthetics. The barefoot horse will grow the hoof he needs to maintain soundness, and while infuriating for the owner that may need to buy two boots individually, or get creative with gaiters and comfort pads inside a hoof boot, mis-matching hooves aren’t always a bad thing.

If either the fore or hind feet are not a pair, try to choose hoof boots that accommodate both hooves adequately, and not one that fits one hoof perfectly to the detriment of the other. Look at boots that come in singles, and consider trying ‘fit kits’ or hoof boot hire to find the best fit.

If you have to compromise with sizes, try to make sure the width is as tight as possible (within the manufacturer’s measurement guide) to grip the hoof, and keep the break over of the horse’s toe as short as possible. Don’t choose a boot that is just too short and hope it will be OK, it is almost certain to give your horse sore heels or may not even go on properly.

Bear in mind that with a newly transitioned horse, or in the case of one with pathologies or physiological issues, that there could be temporary differences in hoof shape and size due to hoof angle, flare, heel bulb size etc, and that within a few trims, these issues may be rectified. If your hoofcare professional feels that your horse’s ‘mismatching’ issues are not part of his normal, healthy physiology, and that they can be rectified as the horse’s feet improve, consider second-hand boots for the interim period, or see if you can borrow a pair while the feet improve, before investing in your ideal set.

USEFUL TIP

Hold a straight edge across the back of the heel buttresses & the toe area, bisecting the frog to the line you have formed.