Hoof Boots Overview
When I started riding Gavilan barefoot in 2002, boot choices were limited and none worked for long distance casual rides except the Easy Boot, and I couldn't get them to stay on my horses feet unless I foamed them on, which destroyed the boots. An ex-endurance rider with over 1000 competitive miles, I struggled with EasyBoots, Boa’s and Old Macs, and was relieved when my horses’ feet became sound enough that I didn’t need boots on most rides.
Since then barefoot has become very popular, and boots have evolved to meet the demand. EasyCare trleased a great assortment of boots, includin a game-changer named The Glove and its glue-on version. Renegade and Cavallo Boots entered the market with two ore extremely popular boots.
When I began trimming professionally, my chief challenge was making boots work for my clients, so I’m thrilled that boots are now so easy to use and that there is a wide variety of adaptable and easy to use hoof boots for different purposes. There are several small custom made boots that aren't covered in this article.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BOOT
Qualified hoof care providers (farriers and trimmers) can provide hoof boot fitting, sales & services the way a shoeing farrier provides shoes. But if you are a hoof care provider or owner, and you're unfamiliar with boots, how do you know which boots work for your or your clients horse and riding activities?
PHCP (Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners) provides classes on boots, booting and hoof protection that are open to hoof care providers and owners, but what most people do is use trial and error. The manufacturers web sites contain good information on the various boots, and many barefoot hoof care providers will "mentor" people who want to learn first hand about booting and boot fitting.
There are several Yahoo Chat groups that help with booting, Bare Foot Horse Care is focused at owner trimmers and is a great forum for beginners. My forum, Whole Horse Health ilooks at many different aspects of hoof and horse care, including booting, and while the focus is on trimming, we discuss the health of shod feet and the use of alternative horse shoes like Epona.
Booting is a challange unless you have someone to help you with boots, you need to do a bit of research and figure out what works best. In this article, I'll point out which boots are the most popular and why.
Determining if you need High or Low Profile boots is the first step. If your shoeing farrier follows barefoot trim guidelines and adds a mustang roll or bevel to their trim (See this example of my trim) , their trim may work in a low profile boot, Renegade is a safe choice.. Otherwise you will want to start with a high profile boot.
Owned by an endurance rider, EasyCare sells a variety of boots, and evolves their product offerings to provide variety and durability. THE GLOVE is EasyCare’s most popular boot, is easy to use but must fit very tight to stay on for reliable use. I suggest that hoof care providers fit and sell them, or suggest that people order a Fit Kit from a knowledgeable catalog company who can provide phone support. I can work with local farriers and trimmers to explain boot fitting and trim requirements.
Also owned by an endurance rider, Renegade makes one boot and makes it very well and in the United States. Their boot uses a “Heel Captivator” and is very easy to fit. These boots are very popular for their ease of use and bright color selection. Many hoof care providers who carry boots have Renegade Fit Kits but they are also easy to order online using dimensions.
These are simple to use and may rub if used for longer rides (approx. 8 to 20 miles). Many people love them, they are a good trail riding boot that stays on reliably.
Soft Ride makes a rehab boot thats known for its silicone pad. The upper is tough cordura and the wedge pad system comes in multiple densities. Many people remove the frog support, and quite a few people replace the pad with an alternative in order to avoid the wedge, but its a highly regarded boot.
Marquis has an air bladder that inflates to hold the boot in place, and also has a Glue-on. Marquis is coming out with a slider boot for reining. This boot isn't widely used so there isn't much information on it.
LOW-PROFILE OR HIGH-PROFILE BOOTS?
Hoof boots fall into three categories, Low Profile, High Profile and Rehab. Trim style is important if you plan to use low-profile boots; high profile boots and rehab boots are more forgiving.
These boots depend on surface tension and “gaiters” or “heel captivators” to keep the boots snugly in place. The Glove, Renegade, Edge, Epic, Marquis & Bare are low profile boots.
A barefoot trim as practiced by Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners and American Hoof Association members stays compact and is more likely to resist chipping and flaring for 5 to 6 weeks on most feet, and this is the type of trim that works best with these boots.
If you use a traditional farrier trim (without a predictable wear bevel or "mustang roll") or want the flexibility of sharing boots between horses, the best boot choices are Trails, Old Mac’s, Boa and Simple Boots. These are forgiving fit wise, and stay in place by enclosing the whole hoof. Long toes, and flared walls are easier to fit with a high profile boot.
They are heavier and may rub the heel bulbs, pastern or coronet if ridden in for long periods of time and are not recommended for use on rides of 20 or more miles.
Rehab boots provide protection and cushioning for transitioning tender soled horses, and for treating navicular and founder. High-profile riding boots easily double as rehab boots. REHAB BOOTS are popular because they offer protection as hooves transition or heal, and the New EasyCare Rx is a form-fitting boot that has built-in cushioning. Soft Ride is very popular for its cordura upper. High profile riding boots also work as turn-out boots for horses with thin soles or pathology.
Glue-on boots are glued on one day to two weeks for competitive events, long camping trips and to treat hoof problems, and are also used continuously for up to 5 weeks for rehab purposes. The main providers are Easy Care and Renegade.
Worms in Horses