Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hoof Boots

I like my horses barefoot. I figure about 99% of the time they simply don’t need shoes. It’s that last 1% that’s the problem.

Case in point: In 2008, I took my Quarter Horse mare, Candy, on a five-day, 100-mile men’s ride in the hills outside Wickenburg, Arizona. Of 180 horses, Candy was the only one barefoot.

I planned for it. My hoof trimmer touched up her feet. I purchased a tried-and-true brand of hoof boots and let Candy wear them for a day at home before packing them in my saddlebags. I would slap those babies on at the first sign of trouble. I was ready!

The first day of the ride was relatively easy but day two was a different story: Seven long hours up and down rocky hills. I thought it would never end. By the time we dragged ourselves into camp, Candy and I were both frazzled. I treated her to a shot of bute and myself to a couple of ibuprofen washed down by a Bud Light.

Day three was spent in camp, so Candy got a nice rest. Day four was to be another long ride and, as we were about to leave camp, I decided to put the hoof boots on. It didn’t go very well. Candy was antsy and I was all thumbs. Most of the riders were gone by the time I was ready and they’d left the water crossing at the edge of camp a muddy mess.

You can probably guess what happened next. Both of those boots came right off, sucked up in the mire, and with Candy’s pals disappearing down the trail, I suddenly had two problems: retrieving my brand new hoof boots, and controlling a buddy-sour horse.

I managed to get the boots, scrape off most of the mud and stuff them back in my saddlebags. My trail buddy, Edgell, held Candy’s reins. If he were not a pastor, I’m sure I would have been cussing a blue streak.

By the time we caught up with the other riders, though, something else was weighing on my mind. How could I protect Candy’s feet now? We had a lot more miles to cover, with more water crossings, and I had no confidence in the boots. I did the only thing I could think of: I got out of Candy’s way. I stopped directing her and gave her responsibility for picking her own way through the rocks. She knew where to go and felt safe with all the other horses. This was one case where she didn’t need my leadership. My focus became to sit as lightly and unobtrusively on her back as I could.

My strategy seemed to work. Candy never took a lame step. A hundred miles over rocky trails wore at least a quarter of an inch off her hoof wall. Maybe more. I know some of the other riders were impressed that she’d made it. I was proud.

Then I got her home. For several days, she spent most of her time lying down. The vet came and did radiographs. There was no real damage but I definitely had one very sore-footed horse. And one very large guilt complex. What had I put her through? Several weeks and several hundred dollars later, Candy was back to normal and didn’t seem to hate me.

Still, this was a wakeup call. If I wanted to keep my horse barefoot, I had to be smarter about protecting her feet when they needed it. That started me on a quest for a better hoof boot, one that would really do the job, that would go on easily, and would stay on.

More than a year later, the quest continues, but I have zeroed in on a boot I like. Some of my very serious trail-riding friends swear by it. I’ve acquired a couple pairs to try with our horses and I’ll let you know how it goes.

This is all any of us can do, really. Just keep searching and trying and learning from our mistakes. I think our horses sense our good intentions and they forgive us when we fall short. They know we can’t help it. After all, we’re only human.

R

38 comments:

MadHoss said...

Please do let us know. I'm researching hoof boots myself. After one day of riding over rocky ground, the same thing happened to my boy.

Also no real damage, but he was very sore for a couple of weeks. Never again.

They have such big hearts to put up with all the things we do to them :)

AZtrailrider said...

My AQHA gelding has been bare for 18 months. I ride him without boots most of the time here in SE Arizona, but for extended ride trips, or in really rocky terrain, I boot his front feet. I have used Renegades which went on easily and unfortunately, came off somewhat easily as well. At $100 each, it is a sad thing to lose one in a creek! I am now using EasyBoot Gloves which have a gaiter to help keep them on-so far, they are great.

That's not my name said...

Rick...I have had years of experience with hoof boots and riding the rocky Cascades.

From experience: Leave that horse barefoot!!
But DO boot up her fronts. And do it preventatively on your long trail rides.

I use Mac Boots and I vet wrap my horses foot... I will pad the bulb of his feet with mattress foam or operating room sponges (whatever ya got) and then vet wrap over that. We always are good for 10 to 20 miles of rocky terrain and the padding is insurance that my horse's tender bulbs will not get chafed/rubbed. Mac Boots never suck off in the mud...and the hikers call them "Horse Hiking Boots".

My horse has better 'Grip' with his hind feet barefoot and most horses only get ouchy on their fronts...so just boot up the fronts.

Shoes are for people who are showing and for meeting performance objectives. NOT for trailriding. This I've learned from trial and error...Only time I would shoe would be for a LONG ride like the John Wayne trail...and then I would pad as well...and I'd leave the hinds bare for terrain with hills.

Love your show and your books Rick. Keep up the mission!!!
Mary

roho said...

Have you tried the vettec product Sole Guard for these kinds of rides? I haven't but I wondered if it was worth the money. I use Delta boots, but never on such a long ride. Haven't lost a boot yet.

GlendaleGal said...

Rick,I thought those things only happened to me!! The good news is you retrieved your boots, I ususally don't realize it until I'm back at camp!
I've heard the German made Marquis is a good boot, but kind of pricey and hard to find. I can't wait to hear what you come up with,because I need a good pair (again)
I've been in a situation up at Groom Creek in Prescott where the trail at the top of the mountain came to a downward "spiral staircase" made out of boulders! I decided to just give my horse "the reins" and let him navigate while I closed my eyes and said a quiet prayer! He did very well on his own and that day I too learned from my horse!
Rich thanks so much for your life stories and knowledge!
May the horse be with you!

American Horse said...

Well, I guess I don't get it. Why not just shoe the horse? We live in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming and I even sharp-shoe my main saddle horse in the winter with poppers under the iron. Anyway, it sounds like the only guy on the ride that had a problem was Rick with his "boots" while the shod horses rode off and left him.

That's not my name said...

American Horse said "Why not just shoe the horse"?

I say:
(1)Unshod horses do better in terrain that is technical (hills, rocks, edges). I stake my safety on the unshod foot.

(2)If you loose a shoe then you run the risk of tearing out hoof wall and laming your horse AND walking back to camp. Not something I want to do at 20 miles out.

DzFoq6YfpOkmBiHP2C0.tj.6AW5a9g-- said...

I have the Easy Care Bare for my Morgan's front feet. So far, I am very happy with them. They seem to stay on securely, without shafing. But, they are a chore to get on to the hoof. The vet wrapping is a good idea, but it would not fit inside to the boot I have. I did own a pair of Ol'Mac boots in the past and they seemed to work well. Easier to get on, that's for sure.

Caroline in MN
tvbatez95@yahoo.com

American Horse said...

That's not my name said:
(1)Unshod horses do better in terrain that is technical (hills, rocks, edges). Hmmmm?

American Horse says, Well I only have about 5 decades of riding hundreds of horses in the mountains and may not know as much as you do about horses' feet but I have yet to see a cowboy out here with rubber boots on. Then again you probably know more about horsey boots than we do.

(2)If you loose a shoe

American Horse says,, I don't lose many shoes, happens yes but you deal with it. I'm betting that you lose more of your rubber boots (like Rick did) than I have shoes and I sure as heck bet fewer horses have lost a shoe and cracked a hoof wall than those unshod horses do. By the way, I keep a spare shoe, nails and and a shoe-hammer with a sawed off handle in my saddle bag for long trips, but I could count on one hand how many times I have had to tack one back on. I'll take that over a lump of rubber boots in there. So again I say just shoe the horse.

Oh and by the way Rick, why haven't you worked that "buddy sour" kink out of that mare yet?

Dutch said...

Well Rick, by golly the question seems to be, "To shoe or not to shoe."

I'm a barefoot kind of fellow myself.

I'd like to suggest Jaime Jackson's site -- www.star-ridge.com

He's written great books, and studied wild horses for decades, and is probably the best known proponent of the barefoot horse.

In 2001 he wrote a book, "The Guide To Booting Horses For Natural Hoof Care Practitioners."

Hope this helps

Dutch Henry

Sandy said...

Rick,
You did a radio program interview one time with Sabine Kells who co-authored/translated all of Dr. Strasser's books. I used to save my CD's of your shows but then I began loaning them out and misplaced that one. You KNOW why you have your horse barefoot! But you need to know that to ride your horse beyond his physical conditioning like you did, you are going to have some residual effects. The answer is not to shoe your horse but to find some good fitting boots and be familiar enough to be able to put them on easily and quickly. I find the G2 Old mac's the best. I fox hunt and most of the time don't need boots. But when we hunt one fixture nic-named "the Rock Pile" I use those boots! An ounce of prevention being worth that pound of cure! You should always use gaiters and fit the boot really tight. They won't come off. Now I have tried the Boas and they bruise the coronary band and come off too. The Renegades are good for low heeled horses but I don't think I could trust them to stay on during fox hunting. i have a friend that uses the Cavallo Simple boot and they will come off too. I have not tried the new glue on boots but feel they could possible come off as well. My vote is for the G2's!

Pat said...

Easycare Glove! The mac-daddy of all hoof boots on the market today. I can’t keep them in stock! They fly out of my truck like hotdogs!

Why not shoe? Because constant pressure kills living tissue. Five decades with no problems? How many horses have you gone through in those 5 decades? And how many have you lost due to hoof ailments.

Barefoot horses have better feel and traction than shod or even booted horses and I can’t figure out why people who shoe their horses have to be so derogatory to people who chose not to. That gets really old.

Shoes are more of a convenience that barefooted horses boots or no boots so it’s the dedicated horse owners who do better shoeless. They don’t mind not taking shortcuts and they are willing to go the extra mile to keep their horse’s hooves healthy between rides when they can go barefoot.

That’s the biggest problems with shoes. They horse can never take them off. They are stuck on 24/7. I’m sure glad I can take my boots off at the end of a long day and I don’t have to sleep in them.

Also, Jaime Jackson might have a couple books, but stopped doing any research years ago and still sells his old (made in the 80s) VHS tapes as DVD’s which lack a lot of current information. Jaime (self proclaimed Zen Master of the Hoof) has let his ego get in the way of his education.

Pete Ramey, (hoofrehab dot com)along with Robert Bowker, DVM, is one of a handful of the original barefoot practitioners who continues to do his research and stays current and works closely with veterinarians to improve the way we care for our horse’s hooves, as am I.

Finally, just say no to Durasole and Sole Guard . It’s an expensive pain to use and if applied correctly, could seal in any bacteria inside your horse’s hooves which could cause abscessing. In fact, unless you don’t like your horse much, don’t use any caustic chemicals on your horse’s feet. If you wouldn’t gargle with it, don’t put it on your horse’s hooves!

Pat Wagner
Hoof Rehab Specialist
American Hoof Association Member
Heelfirstlandings dot com

K said...

Has anyone used Hoofwings? I'm in the process of measuring my mare's front hooves for a pair and before I place my order I'd love to hear from someone who has used them. I like that they don't have a heavy duty sole ... from the photos on the website it looks like the bottom of the boot is shaped more like the bottom of the hoof.

Pat said...

I've heard that the hoofwings don't hold up well and they rub. Most hoofboots rub in one area or another on the horse's hoof.

The Deltas which are manufactured by the same folks who manufacture the Cavallas - same boot -also rub.

I like the Marquis boot sold by Stride Equus and the Easycare Glove for riding and the Soft Ride Comfort Boot as a therapeutic boot for founder and transitioning hooves from shod to barefoot sound.

In the case of Rick's horse getting tenderfooted after that long ride bare, I would have put her into the Soft Rides to make her comfortable enough to move around.

By the way, I love that there are so many barefooters these days!

So many horseowners are really starting to get it!

It's just important to know that you can't have barefoot success with a farrier pasture trim. It has to be a natural hoof trim. There is a difference.

Pat

J said...

I do appreciate reading the quality of exchange on this blog.

I would love to hear from American Horse on how his horses' aged being shoed all thier lifes. I choose to keep my horse's barefoot because I think they will age better for it but I don't know if there is much evidence to support this claim.

Michael Gonzalez said...

Mr. Lamb...

We have four horses. A 20 y/o Arab cross mare...an 18 y/o arab mare...an 8 y/o Paso Fino x Spanish Mustang mare...and a 5 y/o BLM Mustang.

All of my horses are barefoot and have been barefoot their entire lives.

With only two exceptions, medical necessity and job specific duty(i.e. city mounted police), there is absolutely no reason to ever shoe a horse. Period.

We trail ride our horses on all sorts of terrain and have never experienced a problem with having them barefoot.

However...we take excellent care of our horse's feet. No feet, no horse. Our farrier keeps accurate records of of horse's feet, hoof wall, angles, etc.

We DO NOT subscribe to any particular method of barefoot trimming. Most are too severe (and unecessary)for the domesticated backyard horse. Our farrier understands our horse's individual feet and trims accordingly.

It has always been a mystery to me as to why we unecessarily shoe horses other than "its what is done"...or ..."my grandfather used to do it"...or..."my trainer says my horse needs them" etc., etc. Mostly out of blind ignorance in following tradition.

Again, with exception to medical necessity or job specific duties which require the extra protection, horses should be allowed to be barefoot.

A person must...and I repeat..MUST...find an accomodating farrier with solid knowledge in barefoot horses and who is willing to take the time to know your horse's foot history and willing to help develop good sound feet. Thankfully I have such a farrier.

I did consider boots as well, and they are msot certainly a very good option in certain circumstances (i.e. a barefoot horse riding a long parade on concrete or asphalt) but they are limiting on trail rides when water and mud may be present. I found the same situation as you experienced with boots on the trail. I was disappointed to say the least. Even some shod horses experience this same dilemma with their shoes being pulled loose form the suction created by mud, etc. This can be attributed to poor farrier work and/or weakened hoof walls due to excessive shoeing. .

I am fortunate that my Paso x Spanish Mustang, my BLM Mustang and my Arab cross all have extremely hard feet. Walking on gravel and rocks is a natural occurance for horses. Feet adapt well and naturally wear down.

We are big supporters of barefoot horses...and once again, no, we DO NOT subscribe to any particular method of barefoot trimming methods...they CAN be severe and a person really needs to do some in-depth research to see if a particular method is suitable for their horse.

Great topic and good discussions!

Always Yours In Horsemanship...

Michael Gonzalez
Less Is More Horsemanship
Delphi, Indiana

roho said...

Hi Rick: I got thinking about your post over the last couple of days. Maybe your horse wasn't foot sore so much as BODY SORE. After all, you were! I mean, you went on a 5 day, 100 mile men's ride. How many other horses on that ride came up sore in the next few days? How many of those rides have you and your horse done? How well conditioned was your mare for such an event?

I recently moved my horses from flat, flat acreage to hilly pasture. Wow, what a difference in their musculature in just a couple of weeks! Before, they were just blobs, moving lackidasically, strolling in for their daily handouts. Now they are out working for a living; climbing the hills, going from one end of the 40 acres to the other for feed and water. they feel good and ride great. All are barefoot, no one is sore. And they ride great! Much more energy and forward motion. I love it!

GlendaleGal said...

That's a good point, I'm sure there were more than just one sore horse on that kind of ride eh?

L2 said...

Have you tried the Renegade boot yet? You won't be sorry. Created by an endurance rider who is an engineer. The easiest boot to put on and keep on. This guy really thought it out. The backs are open so mud and water just drain out naturally. You don't need fists of steel to lock or unlock them. Great advantage for us ladies.

My horses have been barefoot since 1988. I only use boots when traveling in rugged places for long periods of time.

http://www.renegadehoofboots.com/sizing.html

LMRATS said...

Bless your heart for thinking barefoot! Married to a farrier for 10 years in the past, even he encouraged people to go barefoot when their horses had such excellent feet. Always explaining that the iron would only do more harm to a perfectly sound foot. Some people just got to follow the group, I guess!

Not me! I'm 56 this year, own 4 horses and ALL are barefoot. I live in Southern Indiana and ride rocky Hoosier Forest. Barefoot works for me. If I ever felt a need for boots, it would be front feet and Renegade's would be my choice!

My 2 cents worth today and I'm stickin' to it! ;)Love your books and your program. Keep up the good work!

XaviBGood said...

Howdy Rick,

I agree about the fact of the mostly time horses don't need horseshoes. But the problem is the rest of the time, when they really need them.

I've met the Hoof Boots recently in Bandera, TX, but I didn't buy them.

I live in Europe, in Madrid, Spain, and I spen my horse back riding time on the rocky trails of La Sierra de Madrid. When one of my horses (a pure bred arabian and a half bred andalousian-arabian) loose one of their horseshoes, the range of miles they could walk is very short.

If you prefer your horses barefoot, you may put them horseshoes before a long and hard trail.

Xavi
PD I apologize my bad English

Barbara said...

I have had horses for more than forty years and worked horses for others before that. The only time I have had my own horses shod is for arena performance and competitive trail rides when boots were not permitted. A vet judgeing a trail ride pointed out thirty years ago that my horse did not need shoes, He said, "this horse's foot should be shown in vet schools as a example of a perfect foot".My farrier said the same thing about his half sister who just died at the age of thirty eight. I keep easy boots on hand as my only option if I must ride on pavement or recently rocked roads, I never have had an easyboot come off and I have a thirty year old pair as well as the new gloves. I have bred my own horses with good feet and brains as the paramount goals. Regardless, I had a horse get a bone bruise in the sole area after having to jump him out of the way of a speeding truck. All the roads in the area are gravel (okay) or Rock (horrible)I no longer pony colts off my property. I feel if the speed of the horse is controlled it is bearable but long distance (or any strong workout)does do a job on the muscles too. I have run a marathon and would not want to do it without training. It sounds like She was sore Rick, understandable, it is physiology. It's the whole horse not just the foot. By the way, my thirty eight year old mare traveled so perfectly that her feet wore off beautifully, she always looked like she had been trimmed.My farrier also said, "If everyone had horses like
yours, I would not have much business."

High Mountain Horse said...

Thank you, Rick, for your insight and experience and sharing your story... and guilt! What a terrible feeling, I well understand. We so believe we are doing the best thing for our horses, but at the end of some days or weeks, we feel we are doing the worst. How do we balance this, and find what truly works best for our horses? As an outfitter operating in the high mountains of southern Colorado, named the Rocky Mountains for a good reason, I have been through this as well, riding my horses barefoot until I set them lame. My fault. When what I was trying to do was something kind and gentle. It is a terrible delima and one with no quick fix or easy answer. To date, in my attempt at barefoot horses and natural hoof care, I broke down and put shoes on all my horses but one; a little Arabian Stallion with feet like steel, who remains hyper and active enough even when out of saddle that his feet get a tremendous work out. On the longest of rides and toughest of terrains, he has still remained strong and sound. I have much more to learn, and am so grateful for people like you sharing your stories so that we all can try to learn, and ultimately, hopefully figure out what works best for each horse. Naturally!

biskit said...

Also dont wait till the last minute before a long ride to prepare your horses feet. Even if they've been barefoot for years, the hoof will only be as tough as the terrain they spend most of their time in. I live in MI and our trails here are pretty sandy for the most part with a few rocky areas here and there. I have taken the time to put large round rocks at my water trough so my horses can condition their own feet on a daily basis. Try to set up rotational grazing with longer narrow pastures with varied terrain that encourage movement. Last year I bought a horse with under run heels and my equine podiatrist Lisa Moore DAEP(from kc lapierre,equinepodiatry.net)put wraps on his feet- http://www.appliedequinepodiatry.org/perfecthoofwear/index.html that helped tremendously. The hoof wraps may also be an alternative to shoes or boots. And there is a plastic shoe which could be an option as well http://www.easywalkerhorseshoes.com which would not cause as much concusion as a metal shoe.
Its important to do as much research as possible to find what will be best for the horse as they cant control where we decide to take them.

Lavendarlou said...

ok...have to put in my comment. I am an Equine Body Worker and work on injured horses refered over by Veterinarians mostly. However, many of my long term clients began in the rehab area and now are residual customers if they have any trouble. I have to say, the horses who are barefoot tend to release faster in the body work and have less leg tendon and ligament issues. One long time client purchased a new horse and promptly put shoes on the guy. Within 6 weeks he was so body sore she had to lay off him. I asked her to try a good barefoot trimmer for her gelding and last week I came out to do a once over. i was there the same day as the trimmer so we worked in conjucntion with the horses...my bet is on barefoot. Her gelding is up and working again with no trouble. By the way he had never worn shoes in his life and never had any trouble in his history until the shoes went on. For my money, get educated on proper nutrition for your animal and proper hoof care. Try the boots too.. I like the easy care epics and am planning on trying the gloves. And like most everyone else...I kept my horses in shoes all the time for years. When I took the time to get educated on biomechanics and became a therapist... I changed my practices and my horses are better off for it.

Roxy said...

I have 2 horses who have both been barefoot all their lives. I've used Cavallo Simple boots on them for the last two years when the terrain is too tough for them. I LOVE these boots! So easy to put on and they stay on. I've ridden through knee deep mud, rocks, rivers and never had a boot come off. When I started having to boot my horses I was very hesitant as I'm a firm believer in horse's being barefoot. What I really liked about the Cavallo boots is that I don't have to use some type of glue to keep them on and the closure system doesn't have any wires or clamps that I have to fiddle with to get them on properly.

GlendaleGal said...

I'm just enjoying this conversation and glad to hear how many people agree that barefoot is the way to go, (with the ocassional help from a boot!)

Cowgirl84 said...

My friends and I have been using the Cavallo simple boots for trail riding our quarter horses and we LOVE them! Of all the brands I've tried they are by far the easiest to put on and off, are the most durable and comforatable for my horse. I have never lost a boot and in the west coast of B.C where we ride the terrain varies from very rocky to swampy and muddy and the boots give my horse the confidence to go anywhere!

roho said...

I started using Easy Boots when they first came out like, 35 years ago? Liked them alot, even though they came off sometimes, and left marks on the hoof walls. About 10 years ago, after learning a bit more of the hoof structure, I decided not to use them anymore, as they seemed to put a lot of pressure on the inside workings of the hoof. Recently I bought a pair of Delta Hoof boots, and my horse performs flawlessly in them. They do not rub him, they stay on regardless of the terrain. I'd recommend them anytime. The only difference I could see between them and the Cavalla Simple boots were the Delta has one fastening strap on the outside, and the Cavalla has two. The Deltas were locally available and cost a little less, so I went with them, and have not been disappointed.

cherylstroup said...

I'm still interested in hearing your continued evaluation of boots. We are trying to keep our horses "shoe free" but like you are concerned and want to protect them in rough terrain.

Cindy said...

We have been there done that with our boots, and yet to lose one. I think that most people purchase boots that are too large. We found out about the boots from some friends of ours and they have not lost a boot either. Go to the easy boot website, and it tells you how to measure for the boot. MAKE SURE you measure right, or you will have the same problems as these others are having. We use boots on the front only, not on the back. If they go on too easy, then i would say you have too big of a boot!!!

eliduc said...

Again, different horses have different needs and feet vary from breed to breed, horse to horse and environment to environment not to mention the activities they are used for. I've got news for you people. To say keep your horse barefoot but then put boots on him is oxymoronic. As soon as you put the boots on he is no longer barefoot. The need for boots is the failure of natural trimming. I agree that horses are better off barefooted if they can make it and boots are fine for special occasions but I would never consider using them on an elk hunting trip into a rocky wilderness area. Carrying a couple in case you lose a shoe? Great. The most common unsoundness with pack horses is ring bone.It's caused from hobbles irritating the pastern joint around the hairline. So, if you use boots that rub against the hairline you may be asking for big trouble down the road.s.

eliduc said...

Since the metal horseshoe was first used by the Chinese a few thousand years ago man has been attempting unsuccessfully to reinvent the wheel (horseshoe.) In forty years of being a farrier I have seen all kinds of contraptions from plastic to glue on shoes come and mostly go. Sure, there is a place for glue on shoes for horses that have such a crumbly wall that it won't hold a shoe but for every day use they do not have the durability of metal. You can't shape a plastic shoe to the foot without rasping it and if it's soft enough to rasp it won't wear. The advantages of metal shoes is that they are durable and stable. They last from shoeing to shoeing, perhaps two shoeings or more and do not stretch or slip around on the hoof as boots tend to do every time the hoof lands on the ground. Metal shoes are versatile and can be altered to meet different needs. I ended up owning one of the first horses I shoed as a farrier when he was a two year old, after the owner passed away. He had a box shaped foot like a mule that was low in the heels and looked like a prospect for navicular. Over the years he was consistently in the ribbons, first in western events such as pleasure, trail, stock horse and gaming. He won all three events in a three day event, dressage, stadium and cross country jumping when he was twenty three years old. He died a natural death when he was thirty six and was still an occasional school horse. He taught one member of the U.S. equestrian team how to ride when she was six years old and was shown by another 12 year old boy that is a nationally known trainer today. He was strenuously used most of his life and stayed sound. He didn't do well without shoes and was shod his entire life and died with his shoes on. The shoes sure as hell didn't hurt him. His name was Comanche. My daughter's paint horse is in a paddock outside my window. She was given to my daughter because she was lame for a period of about three years. Before the lameness she had almost perfectly symmetrical front feet. During the lameness the right hoof atrophied from not bearing weight on it. Several things were tried from being barefoot to supplements. Soon after she arrived here I put steel navicular shoes with poly- urethane pads on her front feet and her recovery was almost instantaneous. She has been sound for two years now. Her affected hoof has regained some of it's original shape and my daughter even jumps her over low fences occasionally. Boots would have done nothing for this horse. Last year we had a good snowfall. It warmed up and the snow melted and then the water froze and stayed that way all winter. Our paddocks were ice skating rinks. My horse was barefoot and the paint had shoes. We spent the winter watching them do the splits. Yesterday, in preparation for the ice I shod them with rim shoes and brazed in spots of horseshoe borium on the heels and toes. There will be no problem with them slipping this year and they will be safe on the trails. Any kind of shoe or boot is an necessary evil. I have never advised my clients to shoe their horses when they didn't need it but circumstances often dictate that they need it. A word about herd sour horses. That's the natural consequence of a horse living in a herd. If you separate a parrot from the nest box soon after it is born it bonds to the person who feeds it. It's no different with horses. Our 60 foot square paddocks are separated from each other by 25 feet and we have no problem riding out alone and when we are with other horses our horses don't always want to be in front nor are they jigging to catch up. Our horses love us instead of each other. A barn sour horse is a real pain to fix. Of course, we have the space and only two horse

KD said...

For ease of use and from personal experience, I can recommend Cavallo Simple Boots and also Renegade Hoof Boots. The Cavallo's won't come off thru mud, water, or hill climbing, but they do come over the coronet band and can rub under some circumstances. Just came back from a week long trip riding on rocky and muddy trails in the hills of Georgia and all of us used them on our Florida flatlander horses. ( I have tried many boots in the 3 years my pony has been barefoot.)

The Renegades haven't rubbed at all yet, but need the hoof to be freshly trimmed or rasped to keep the fit perfect.

Margo Aasen said...

I have an 8yo Andalusian/Tb mare who is showjumping – barefoot all her life (my whole stable is barefoot) – she is now competing at 1m20 and is finding the jumpoffs a bit difficult – slips a bit and the rider doesn’t want to push her (we don’t want her injured for the sake of a ribbon).

Mostly in New Zealand (where I am!) the shows are on converted paddocks, few arenas. So they can get pretty sloppy (there is often no drainage).


We’ve tried leaving the walls longer, doesn’t seem to help (just stretches the white line); it’s also been suggested to put hoof boots on her that have studs on them. At these higher heights to be competitive she needs to be able to turn quickly in the jumpoff.

I have had Old Macs for years, but they look like gumboots - my rider (a Yank!) is a bit embarrassed to be seen in them (well, the horse to be seen in them). I have just bought a set of 4 Cavallo Delta's - they are pretty snazzy! I like the look, the horse still jumps amazingly, now I just wonder how to put in the studs.

I don't want to just put in a stud screw hole as I think if we cross-thread it will damage the plastic hoof boot bottom, and this will cause more problems than its worth.

I need decent jumpers studs, not the kind I have seen in most hoof boots - which are more for endurance grip, not muddy grip for a jumper.

Can't wait to hear from you, have been a fan for years!

Margo Aasen
Tielcey Park Equestrian Centre
www.tielceypark.co.nz

Addy said...

Very informative post. In my views horse boot should be comfortable. You must buy western boot for your horse.
Horse boot

Allie Digs said...

Hi I have the renegade hoof boots, I like the style and idea but I have had some problems with them. I lost one when I hadn't got them adjusted right and I take that as being my fault for not realising they needed fitting in a specific way... but since then I have had back ones come off in canter and have lost a front one on steep terain...a costly action. Also when you adjust them, if the wire accidently comes out it is impossible to get it back in...I have spent hours trying to sort this problem and get the wire back in... and still this particular pair sit unused as I have not been successful. I have just started using my front ones again but have to say I'm not confident they are gonna stay on on steep or very muddy terrain and have already come off once. I'm now looking at the easyboot glove now.

Linda Reinhold said...

I use the Cavallo Easy Boot on my horse and they have never come off even in deep mud. On steep, rocky climbs, my horse's feet seem to be in better shape than my sister's horse with nail on shoes, protecting the whole hoof rather than the outter rim of the bottom.