More and more horse owners are opting to keep their horses barefoot as opposed to going with the old school metal shoes.
For horses who are healthy, kept in a clean environment with sufficient exercise and proper nutrition, this is a terrific way to keep them more naturally comfortable and fend off many hoof-related problems (navicular, laminitis, ring bone) that were once death sentences for horses in bygone days.
However; even the healthiest feet still require sufficient protection when negotiating particularly rough or rocky terrain. In these instances, hoof boots are the most popular solution. Some horses can do well wearing only front boots. Others, if they have more sensitive soles, will do best with a full set of four.
There are many hoof boot options out there on the market, and everyone will vehemently defend their favorite make and model. Choose the right boot for your horse. Here we’ll provide boot-shopping equestrians with a few basic facts and some simple advice to help them invest in the right option for their needs and their horses.
First of all, measure (carefully) the hoofs of the specific horse that will be wearing the boots. Most horses cannot share boots any more than you can share shoes with everyone else in your family. If you’re lucky, you may have two horses with the exact same size feet, but this is rarely the case.
We recommend that you carefully measure each hoof, in both millimeters and inches, on two separate days. This is simply a matter of checking your work. Do not measure in inches and then convert to millimeters, or vice versa. Write down your findings immediately.
Once you have measured, determine what type of riding you want to do. Some boots are designed for performance riding, others are meant for pleasure rides at slower speeds. You will also want to carefully consider how simple you need the boot to be to place on your horse’s feet, and how patient your horse is with such activity.
Now you’re ready to shop for the specific boots. Pay attention to the sizing measurements and form of the boots. Some are made for a more oval foot while others are designed for rounder shapes. If your horse has a particularly round hoof, the boots made for the narrower, oval foot, will not provide a good fit. Likewise, a narrow foot with a longer measurement cannot work well in the round, wide boots.
A few facts and features of some currently popular models:
Easyboot trail. Easy (very) to put on and take off. They are designed for a rounder hoof. The sizing is a little forgiving; you do not have to be as spot-on exact as with some other designs, but still want to heed the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines. For longer distances and extended wear, the cordura fabric may show signs of visible wear after a short time. The boots also tend to twist if the horse is traveling at higher speeds or over uneven terrain. The Easyboot Trail model is a great boot for slow journeys (preferably a walk) on relatively level footing. The basic black and brown color combination works well with most any tack. Price: sold separately, approximately $55 each at most outlets.
Easyboot glove. Designed as more of a performance boot, the glove demands a rather exacting fit. Measure very, very carefully (and measure again) before ordering. If the boot is a little loose, add a very affordable power strap to enhance the fit. If the boot is too tight, you’re out of luck. You can walk, trot, canter and gallop in this boot when the fit is correct. It wears well and the low profile gives a comfortable, natural feel for the horse. The Easyboot Glove’s soft neoprene gaiter helps hold it in place and also offers comfort and security for the horse. A terrific design when you do your homework and make sure to measure correctly and thoroughly before placing your order. These boots do best on a more oval-shaped hoof. The standard color is black, though they can be found in red and blue as well. Power straps (purchased separately from the gloves) are available in several colors, including; silver, white, black, red, blue, purple, yellow, pink and orange. Price: $65 – $75 dollars a pair. (The power strap is purchased separately if needed; $6 – $8 each).
Renegade boots are a favorite of many long distance endurance riders. With a sturdy design and unique cable fit system that allows you to customize the fit, these are colorful and sturdy options for hoof protection over tough terrain. As with the Easyboot Glove, Renegades are best suited to a hoof that is longer than it is wide, with a more oval form. Colors: many. Check out the Renegade website for more information and to view their selections. Prices are in the range of $175 per pair.
Simple boots from Cavallo are (as the name suggests) quite simple to put on and fasten. Their original design is made for hoofs that are rather round. Their sole offers ample cushioning and support. Easy Velcro straps and an all-leather upper wear well and stay securely in place at all gaits providing you’ve measured correctly and fitted your horse with his proper size boots. Colors: black and brown (some closeouts may be found in red, pink or purple). Price: $145 – $150 for a pair
Cavallo also offers a couple of designs in a new “slim” sizing option; these are best suited to the horse with a narrower, or oval, foot. The Cavallo Slim Sole boots (Simple and Trek models) are available only in black at this time. Price: Trek boots are sold individually, $79 – $85 each. Simple boots: $145 – $150 a pair.
Old Mac’s are a favorite of many trail riders and have proven themselves to be sturdy and reliable. The new Old Mac G2 is slightly more streamlined. They are relatively easy to put on, using a combination of Velcro and a buckled strap. Color: basic black. Price: $155 – $165 a pair on average.
Keep your horse happy, healthy and comfortable on any terrain with a set of correctly fitting hoof boots!