Hoof Boot & Easyshoe Q & A with no BS!
Having barefoot horses is easy. It really is!
Equethy has twenty years experience in this new industry helping many clients find the right boot for their horse and seeing them transition out of shoes. It saddens me when I see some "elite" farrier say only some horses can be barefoot, and only if he applies his amazing magical touch to the trim. This is just not so for 99% of domestic horses.
Below are the most common questions I see from those considering barefoot. The answers are aimed to the average horse owner which of course is most of us. I will try to make them as simple as I can.
Can any horse be barefoot?
Yes all horses can be barefoot, but not every horse can be ridden barefoot.
Our domestic pasture horses will need hoof boots or flexible shoes once they leave their pasture. If you are not going to provide this don't even bother trying barefoot because you will just be swapping one kind of lameness for another!
Can any barefoot horse fit into hoof boots?
Most can. Most boots come in individual sizes so even if your horse has different sized hooves you can find a boot style that will work. Some of the huge Clydies may have trouble finding boots to fit them but boots do come in very large sizes too. There is also a range of really tiny boots for our mini friends who are often used for carriage driving too. If your horse has dinner plate feet with under run heels and forward running toes (making boot fit difficult) you need to change your hoof care provider as these issues can be easily over come with good trimming.
Whats the difference between Therapy Boots and Riding Boots?
To help with laminitis and serious lameness there is a large range of Therapy Boots. These are loose fitting and have soft inner soles for comfort. They can be applied over bandaging. They are designed so a horse undergoing treatment for laminitis or serious hoof issues can have cushioning that prevents pain and the hoof can be kept clean and protected from the environment. This allows access to the outdoors and sunshine which is so important for full recovery. They are meant for horses in a small turnout area not those in large pastures.
If your lame horse is in a large pasture, and you have no option, then choose a style of riding boot instead but one that allows padding and can be left on during the day. Riding boots are tough and meant for all sorts of terrain and less likely to come off if the horse over reaches etc. Manufacturers also sell pads to insert into many boots to offer more comfort for injuries.
Can you leave hoof boots on in the pasture?
No. Just as you need to take off your shoes to let your own feet breath, then horses need to have their boots removed after every ride. Their hooves need direct access to the varying surfaces in the pasture to enhance their hoof growth and so they can have natural wear too. Being without boots enhances hoof health.
How do you check for boot fit?
The manufactuers all have sizing guides on their online shops and detailed videos. Most require that you measure after a fresh trim then look through their sytles to find one that matches your individual measurements. Any horse should be regularly trimmed at least every six weeks to ensure good fit. If you leave the trim longer than six weeks the horse's hoof will undergo leverage stresses that will create forward running toes and hoof cracks. Boot measurements do not equate to shoe sizes you need to check out the manufacturers "how to measure" information for the brand you like.
Do boots have good warranties?
Yes they do. I am always amazed at the great warranties offered by most boot manufacturers. This fact shows how confident they are in their products's ability to withstand the rigours of riding. As a boot seller of fifteen years I am still surprised at how few exchanges we get from online sales. Most of these are due to incorrect measuring by the owners not failure of the boots. Most manufacturers will exchange for sizing mistakes. We supply boots to every equine discipline even the mounted police in Australia and get very few exchanges.
Are boots hard to put on?
Yes and no again! This is a hard question because it depends on the horse and the person applying the boots! Boots are easy to use when you have used them a couple of times and, if you have a compliant horse. Most horses are happy to lift a leg to have their boots applied and even begin to happily anticipate the process. If you are struggling with your horse then there are lots of tips online from horse trainers to help you create a compliant horse.
Some boot styles are close fitting and suitable for use as sporting boots, they do require a bit more grunt, but the payoff is they never move or twist these have been widely tested by endurance riders world wide.
Some boots encompass more of the hoof capsule and are suitable for trail riding and pleasure riding. They are very easy to fit, so its really up to the boot purchaser to decide what works best for them. Perhaps look at the many videos on the manufactuer's site to help you decide.
How often does a barefoot horse need trimming?
Do not leave your horse longer than six weeks between trims. If you previously left your shoes on the horse till they almost fell off before you called the farrier it might be time to attend a barefoot trim workshop and learn how to do a maintenance trim yourself so you can do a tiny rasp job in between calling the farrier. Leave a barefoot horse too long between trims (more than six weeks) and because most just graze on soft pasture, their hooves will grow too long and leverage forces will cause them to have forward running toes and to crack.
If there a difference between trim styles from a professional farrier or trimmer?
There shouldn't be, but there often is. The saying "a good trim is a good trim" is not always true. If your farrier is not familiar with rehabilitative barefoot trimming he may not know why the basic "good trim" he has done for years is leaving the horse sore, or not helping horses with serious issues to grow out problems such as collapsed heels and deep cracks.
If you are changing to barefoot to help your horse with a serious problem such as navicular syndrome then I suggest you seek out a specialist such as an Equine Podiotherapist. This is often not possible for everyone and in that case I suggest you get one of the text books I recommend on this site and you and your farrier/trimmer use these as a guide and work together to create change. This doesn't have to be a confrontational process. Many farriers welcome a chance to learn new skills.
Can I still compete in my chosen equine sport?
Barefoot/booted horses are competing in many sports now. The many horses medalling at the recent Tokyo Olmpics show clearly that you can take barefoot sporting horses to the very top level with the right hoof protection.
I have seen at local level sports that don't allow boots but will allow crippled horses in corrective shoes to compete!! Go figure! If you find you can't use boots or glue on shells, then use the next best thing. Use Easyshoes they offer advantages that steel shoes cannot, and still allow many of the normal functions of the bare hoof.
How long do boots last?
Hoof boots gererally last a very long time. They are made from strong materials. You will find they far outlast many sets of steel shoes. For the average pleasure rider they may last for years! Often boots are replaced because the owner wants a new style not because they have worn out.
Can you clean hoof boots?
Yes they are easly to clean if you want to with just soap and water. Most riders just hose them if they feel the need. If you want them to look sparkly new then wiping them with a car spray like Amourall does the trick.
Flexible Shoes - are they better than steel shoes?
Yes they are. Flexible shoes allow for many of the natural functions of the hoof to continue, but we won't know for several years their many benefits because they are so new on the market that no long term studies have been undertaken. But the improvements in horses that have moved out of steel to flexible shoes are visible. There are many different styles of flexi shoes available for many different disciplines, and these can be applied with a glue-on process or with nails. These shoes were highlighted at the Tokyo Olymics and used by several of the elite equine competitors there. Easycare Inc. has a vast range of flexible shoes available.
Do barefoot horses need a special diet?
No and yes! If your horse is on a good diet already then he should have healthy new hoof growth. What is a good diet? Don't be seduced by feeds that offer amazing hooves just by feeding the bagged feed from big retailers. Take the time to research a little about the needs of horses to sustain continual good health. I highly recommend looking at the information provided by Dr Ellanor Kellon DVM. Her passion for improving equine health through science based information has been unwavering over many years. Most good diets can be quite simple and therefore not expensive too! Don't be seduced by fancy ads for supplements, horses actually require very basic supplements if they have good natural diets and good pasture. For pasture information see www.safergrass.org
Like to purchase boots?
We can also ship to New Zealand.
We also assist professional hoof care providers with product information and pricing that assists you to help your clients. Ph. 02 44573022 for more information.
Don't forget to measure the hoof before you check out the multitude of styles available. Horse shoe sizing does not equate to hoof boot sizing.
BUY BOOTS NOW!
Equethy Pty Ltd can also assist professional hoof care providers,farriers etc. with product information and pricing that assists you to value add to your business. Ph. 02 44573022 for more information. If you are a veterinarian we are happy to advise how many of our therapy boots can be used to aid rehab.