Hoof boots provide comfort for horses new to barefoot. Imagine yourself without your shoes – not too bad when your in your house, but when going outside on the footpaths and roads, it can be pretty uncomfortable. Then imagine walking on stones, and then carrying extra weight!
It’s no different for your horse. While in his paddock he is comfortable, but then we ask him to go over terrain that his hooves are not accustomed to, whether carrying our weight or not he is likely to be tender over the harder surfaces and rocks and be uncomfortable. His hooves simply aren’t accustomed to the harder terrain.
It’s not about making the horse ‘tough it out’. The hoofs will not transition to barefoot performance under these conditions.
This is where hoof boots come in, they help your horse to move easily over terrain he would otherwise be reluctant to travel on. The key here is that the horse will be more comfortable and use his hooves correctly – landing heel first, flexing the hoof at the frog and rolling over at the toe. This promotes good blood flow circulation within the hoof capsule, helping improve the whole hoof. Over time naturally trimmed hooves will grow thicker walls and soles, build calloused frogs and hoof boots may then only be needed occasionally. The more riding you do the quicker the hooves will become like steel, and the faster they will grow.
Riding a horse that is uncomfortable will encourage a toe first landing, and this has an adverse effect on the mechanics of the hoof. Boots should be used during the transition period, particular after metal shoes are removed and when riding is not regular enough to keep the hooves hardened and calloused.
Usually boots are only needed on the fronts, however on longer rides or rides over several days that your horse is not accustomed to, he will likely become sore or uncomfortable on his hinds. So if you are going to do anything out of the usual, consider booting all 4 hooves.
Boots are really coming into their own now, there are more and more designs coming on the market, some are easier to use than others, some are high performance and some have spare parts available to keep them ‘on the road’ longer. But there will never be one boot that will suit every horse, and some horses hoof shape and size may limit the choices you have.
As a guide only, using boots for a few hours each week you can expect to get a years wear from one pair of boots – so while they may seem pricey at first, when compared with shoeing over the same period of time they work out extremely cheap, even more so if you undertake a course to learn to trim and maintain the hooves yourself, getting a professional in occasionally to check your work if you need.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.