View Full Version : Hoof boots and other Shoeing things

Lisa an Gypsie
22-01-08, 02:02 PM
Ok, this is going to be an essay and a half so pull up a comfy chair, brew a coffee and get stuck into it...and be nice, I don't want any of the shoe vs no shoe nastieness seen in the past this is a discussion and I want it to stay nice!!!

Goal = I want to keep this horse sound...problem is coventional stuff just doesn't come easy here

Background history of horse:

Quays -

- Has been shod as a racehorse...badly resulting in a tendon bow...he was retired to my paddock and spent 14 months spelling before being brought into work without shoes (not barefoot...just without shoes and a normal farrier trim). Had NO soundess problems even with galloping on a soft dirt road, jumping and doing dressage lessons in a nice sand arena
- We moved from soft soil dairy country to outback dryness, hard rocks and challenging terrain, horse was subsequently shod as he was going sore (duh LOL)
- Horse became progressively unsound and then developed a cracker of a splint on his foreleg...it's huge trust me!!! and I changed farriers about 5 times trying to get someone to keep him 100% sound...no such luck
- Spent the last 2yrs trying to nurse him through the show seasons and have succeeded but he's not right and I can't fool myself any longer...the horse is sore, the splint is a problem and the shoeing is dismal.
- he's been spelling for over 6 months since last june and the splint is STILL sore...no worries the vet and I have a little magic potion we are going to use on him to get rid of it but this still leaves me with the shoeing problem
- Now we have access to a good farrier who actually knows how to shoe, has studied and done an apprenticeship, is a REAL farrier lol...(the others here are bush farriers...don't ask please!!!) he flies in every 6 weeks from BNE to shoe about 400 horses...so far I have not used him yet but he is comming out next trip to trim the horses for me as I can no longer do this for ovious reasons.

My dialema is this....i know after much research that Quays would be better off with balanced shoeless feet, however there are several obstacles regarding using boots that I just can't quite overcome, I've used them before with the racehorses and they were clumpy things which made the horses walk funny and they couldn't work in them...that was a few years ago now though.

- Heat: they are black, it's frigging hot out here how will the extra heat affect the horse? we often ride for sevral hours on the trails...are they going to burn his feet/coronet bands? I know my long boots (my old rubber ones any way) would burn like fire after an hour in the sun.
- Does he need to wear them on all 4's or can I use them on just the fronts? he seems to be fine soundess wise if he's got something on the front feet, his back feet don't seem to worry him. BUT then if he's got them on the front and not on the back he's going to be unbalanced isn't he?
- Competition and jumping: if he hits a jump he can't feel it through all those boots, will it make him less careful? how do horses go wearing these boots while competing?
- Movement: are they going to affect him paces wise? will he have brushing problems from the extra weight? will it affect his action?
- Every day use: just how sturdy are these boots any way? I mean if he's getting worked every day in them how long will they last? with the heat and sunlight will this cause them to perish quicker?

Does anyone use them on a regular basis? can you reasure me that I won't be making my horse look and move like an idiot wearing the boots? any words of wisdom for me?

Remember - I am in the middle of nowhere, there is not a great deal of horsey services here and I don't have millions to spend on fancy treatments....I just want a sound horse who is happy.

OR am I better off getting the good farrier to shoe him and see what happens???


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22-01-08, 02:23 PM
Lisa - not a direct answer to your question but.........

Reading your post you are articulate, intelligent and discerning. If were you I would go and train to be a barefoot trimmer and do you Quay's hooves yourself. You know a good shoeing from bad one and know how and why he was OK without shoes and what caused him to become unsound.

I say this as a massive sceptic of barefoot. There was no way on gods earth I was doing that tree hugging feel good girlie barefoot stuff as there was no way possible it could work on my thoroughbred.

My hubby is bright, discerning, well educated and intelligent and trained as a barefoot trimmer after reading the benefits of barefoot.

He convinced me to try barefoot on my thoroughbred. It obviously wasn't going to work as the horse had been through farrrier, after farrier, vets, x-rays and we had finally found one farrier who only came every 6 weeks that could keep the horse sound. Why would I give that up?

I gave barefoot a go simply to prove my hubby wrong. Guess what??? Best thing I ever did for the horse and his soundness.

I did use boots during transition. He became a bootless gravel cruncher in just 9mths. We invested in every version of boots we could find for genuine fit purposes.

Boots are no substitute for metal horse shoes and are really only useful for transition because:-

- there are limited sizes and fits. If you horse doesn't have identically sized feet for the boot you need to add pads or have them slip around.

- they make the horse walk funny if they are not a perfect fit

- they are hot

- they are heavy

- they skid on wet grass

- little stones and sand go down them and make the horse uncomfortable

- they sweat and rub on hot days

- they need at least 4 swear words per boot to get them on

- the ones with the little dials, the damn caps fall off 10 mins into your ride

- paspallam (sp) goes down them and makes them slippery at the time of the year when it seeds

- they fill up with water and squelch after you have been through a creek or a puddle

- they separate from each other in the tackroom and you have to walk around with one in your hand muttering "s***, s***, s*** - where did I leave the other one?

- I wouldn't be game to jump in them

- not logical - but they look funny and sound funny

Take the money you would pay the farrier for the coming year and invest it in some training for yourself on barefoot. You are clearly smart and can make some sound decisions for Quay to keep him sound.

PS: I HATE being wrong but I was and my husband was right. All 6 of our horses are barefoot, 5 successfully and one will go back to shoes. The saving for us is $6000 per annum which is not a bad outcome

22-01-08, 02:24 PM
From my experience with hoof boots, I would have to recommend the Easyboot Epic. This boot doesn't actually go over the coronet band so you won't have to worry about burning or rubbing. I use them fairly regularly and find they have lasted quite well, I have heard that the wire can break but have not had any problems myself. I believe the Easyboot Bare is also good but a lot harder to get on, I haven't used these.

As for how they move in boots, you will find that your horse will actually start heel landing which is the correct way a horse should land. I only use the boots on the front feet and don't find it unbalances her at all, and she has no trouble jumping while wearing them.

My other horse who has had problems most of his life, is now moving much more freely since correct barefoot trimming, and boots while being ridden.

Hope this helps with some of your questions.

22-01-08, 03:36 PM
Hi Lisa,

Just a few comments in response to your post. I am part of a group who offer barefoot workshops for horse owners and also sell hoof boots so I have seen natural hoof care from both sides. I don't think barefooting your horse should be stressful which is why I believe that boots for most riders make perfect sense.

Often rock crunching hooves depend on four things, the trim that is being applied, the pre existing damage from shoes, the diet of the horse and the amount of time the rider has to spend on the horse.

Although most people intend to ride every day we rarely find this possible, so we need instant hoof protection for our horses when we do want to ride.

Unfortunatley farriers are not trained to do a physiologically correct barefoot trim and unless they have studied it after their farriers course they tend to just set up the hoof as if it were going to be shod as this is the trim they are taught. Sadly the farriers course in Australia is falling far being the times in its content. So even having a trained farrier is no guarantee that you will get the best trim available for a barefoot horse.

Thoroughbreds are behind the 8 ball already as they are shod as two year olds before their hoof bones even develop properly (this does not happen till they are over 5 yrs old). So there is some hoof deformation at work in their hooves long before most other breeds. But there is still no reason that they cannot be successfully barefoot later. Often they only need boots for the front feet and then after a time you may not need these either but that depends on the amount of riding you can do to keep the hooves conditioned and the type of trim you are using.

I can only speak about the Easycare boot range as they are the ones that we sell so I know them best. There are several types and prices.

The big clunky ones that came out first were the Old Macs. These are still popular as they are easy to put on and fine for trail rides but performance riders tend to use the Epics or Bares as these are designed for harder wear, fit below the coronet band and have a soft neoprene gaiter that wraps around the pastern for added security.

The endurance riders/performance riders are using the Bares which are similar, in design but more robust in construction and fit very tightly so they stay on at speed.

The Epics and Bares are not overly heavy and they flex with the horse, this allows the natural haemodynamics of the hoof to protect the horse from concussion. If the hoof is suspended off the ground by a shoe this function is compromised and the concussion is far greater so for show jumpers they actually assist in protecting them. Studs can be added if required for more traction but most people find they don't need them as the boots have good grip on most surfaces.

As far has being overly hot I have not heard anyone say this is a problem. Its an interesting thought though. In the endurance horses who wear them for hours on end there hasn't been any reports of issues due to heat and the boots have been in use for several years now all over the world, some were tested in rides done in the hot conditions of death valley in the States without problems being reported.

I hope this info has made your decision a bit easier.

Regards Chris

23-01-08, 03:21 PM
I have used Old Macs on my older horse years ago, and Im now using Old Mac G2's on my current horse. Both my horses dont mind wearing them at all.

I did trails, SJ and x-country with my older boy in his Old Macs without any problems. He didnt walk funny and as far as I could tell they didnt bother him at all.

My younger horse is not bothered by his new G2's either (his name is Sandy so we call them the 'Sandy Sneekers'). He is much happier with them on when we are out on the gravel/rocky roads.

I have only used them on the front and only when Im out riding - not sure how they would heat up but I suppose they could if worn for LONG periods of time.

Ive been very happy with my use of boots - I feel they are really being underutalised in the horse world.


24-01-08, 02:19 AM

Re: heat...
I have done many k's in hoof boots over the course of 2007 (before the "bump" came along) - and never found them to heat up. Yes, they would warm to the sun (much as your horses coat does), but would not soak up heat and store it.

On the other hand - have you ever left some steel out in the sun?? let alone adding friction to this same steel whilst out truding along roads or rocky trails??.. I think you would find the heat transfer from shoes to be much more damaging than adding a warm hoof boot for a few hours per day.