Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Teach Me Tuesday: Hoof Boots

True confession: I have never been "in" to hoof boots like... ever. The hellmare went barefoot quite a bit, but I never put boots on her. I did buy a set for Cuna at the advice of my vet, and I HATED them, though my experience was probably tainted by the fact that the whole experience was miserable and horrible and depressing.

And now I have Courage.

Who is rocking the barefoot thing for a cycle right now.

And the word "rock"ing probably makes him wince a little.


He's a bit tenderfooted, but no way Cuna's old giant size 3 Easyboots would go on him. I borrowed a pair from my BO and I thought they looked pretty ok. Heck, I didn't even swear very much putting them on.

I did chuck Courage on the lunge for a spin before I got on to see what he thought.

He didn't really give a shit, even when one of them flew off and hit him in the belly.

So I guess those didn't fit.

Thus, we are hoof-boot-less. I've considered trying to track some down for him, but I keep circling back to this: what are hoof boots really for? Are they an every-ride, every-time substitute for shoes? Just a band aid to stick on if Pookie loses a shoe before farrier day?

Hell if I know.

Ideas?

27 comments:

  1. SO not a hoof boot expert, but I have a friend who is all about the barefoot thing, and she uses them for riding on newly-barefoot horses until the horse's feet have a chance to adjust and toughen up. Just some extra support until the feet start doing their job. I keep an easy-boot on hand just in case ponykins loses a shoe so he can still go outside without wrecking his foot.

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  2. You can probably read through my old posts about them, but I swear by Cavallo Sport boots. I have them in two sizes (due to trim cycles) and they are awesome as a bandaids for a lost shoe or riding. I have paper chased in them through hock deep mud and they've never come off. I got them on the recommendation from Andrea, and I've never looked back! They break in like a pair of hiking boots and they are easy to fine tune the fit (my favorite thing to use is a little vet wrap around the heel and pastern to make them snug/prevent rubs) I've also turned him (and other horses who have borrowed them) out in huge fields and they are the only boots that seem to stay on. The transition to barefoot even for a small amount of time is sometimes tougher on the owners than the horse (but I've found it's a little easier to pull the shoes before the ground is completely frozen) -- you will be thankful you did come springtime when he's got a better hoof to tack a shoe on too:)

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  3. I use them (keep them around) for three reason.

    1. Hoof injury, like an abscess. If you have oversized ones you can put it on over the poultice bandage. Very helpful for a horse that lives outside or goes into a muddy turnout.

    2. For when you lose a shoe and your farrier can't get there right away.

    3. For a barefoot horse on a trail ride. Helps avoid getting any stone bruises and makes them more comfortable if they don't have completly rock hard mustang hooves.

    The only boots I like, are the Cavallo Sport Boots. All the rest are a pain to put on, take off, fit, and to clean, IMO.

    Can I put in a request for you to do a couple Teach US Tuesdays? I would love to hear about why you use fly bonnets and breastplates. Is there a reason, or are these things purely a fashion item for you? Curious minds want to know!

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    1. Haha! That could be a fun idea too.

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    2. I second those teach me Tuesday requests! :)

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  4. i know nothing about this topic - but everything in-depth i've ever read has been on endurance blogs or forums. they seem to be the real experts... hope Courage's toes toughen up soon!

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  5. I agree with everything above, and wanted to add my experience. A friend's ottb, Kevin, had terrible, horrible, no good, TINY feet (like, 0000 or something) when he came off the track, and we had to keep him barefoot for at least 6mo in the back and something like 18 mo in the front. We don't have a ton of good surfaces at our barn for horses to work on hardening their feet up on (it's basically all clay, some deep pea gravel, then arena sand) and so he wore hoof boots for every ride, on at least his front feet. Both to help him avoid being tenderfooted as well as to prevent his feet from getting chipped up, because for some reason his feet just never hardened up and became super rock solid.

    Avoiding chipping feet if your horse loses a shoe is a great reason to keep a hoof boot around, actually. I'm lucky in that Murray has pretty solid feet, but I hate the crazy stuff farriers sometimes have to do to get a shoe back on when it's been all chipped up (and would hate to have to wait until the end of the cycle!).

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  6. never really used them either, but I have been considering a pair if I take my mare trail riding. Her feet are good, but those rocks and stuff can be sharp! In a pinch though-DUCT TAPE. That's what my trainer uses when one of the horses throws a shoe lol

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  7. We use them for trail riding - since trails around us are mostly fire roads and filled with a mix of dirt, gravel, and stones. Shasta is very sensitive to the rocks. The other two are usually barefoot. I did have to boot Dijon briefly when the farrier messed up his feet. We have only ever used them in the arena when transitioning my husband's horse from shod to barefoot. If you're staying in the arena, I wouldn't do boots. Most of them don't work for jumping anyway.

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  8. I don't own or use them. When I transitioned to barefoot I did a lot of research and decided against them, unless Hemie indicated he really needed them (luckily he didn't).

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  9. Andrea from The Reeling (Mareventures!!) knows quite a bit about booties.

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  10. Depends on the horse and on what you want to do with them, and on what your surfaces are like, as others have said. If the horse is happy in the arena and on your usual riding surfaces barefoot, then don't use them.. If he isn't, they are a useful way to give added protection as the feet toughen up. If you WANT Courage to go barefoot, then a pair for at least the front feet isn't a bad idea in case of trail rides on harder terrain or even for XC clinics if the ground isn't all it should be. They are also useful for emergencies when a shod horse loses a shoe (though you might find you need two as the front and back feet are often different sizes..). They are also VERY handy for keeping poultices protected in the event of an abscess (one of ours lived in one for several days when being poulticed, then for three more weeks when the abscess decided to blow through the sole and take half her sole with it! Without a boot she would have been stall confined for a month: wit it she was able to go out to pasture).

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  11. If you have any questions you can always drop me a PM! O goes in Cavallos or Easyboot Gloves and they make a world of difference for her. We live in the Land Of All The Rocks, which is hard for a totally barefoot horse, especially a sissy one like her - the boots are a game changer. We gallop, go through water, make tight turns, go down the road for miles, and generally beat the living hell out of them and they keep on going. Not something I could do in four steel for sure. Boots have come super far from just a spare tire when your horse loses a shoe!

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  12. People whose horses have shoes sometimes like to keep a hoof boot around as a spare while waiting for the farrier to come out and nail a lost shoe back on.

    My main use for hoof boots initially was to transition my thin-soled TB cross from front shoes to barefoot, and to help accustom her to the harder winter footing in MD when we moved here from FL at the end of October 2012. She wore boots 24/7 for 2 weeks in the spring of 2014 after she had severe sole bruising from poor pasture management (cannon-bone deep mud everywhere) while waiting for her soles to toughen up again. The boots allowed her feet to receive the same degree of stimulation they would receive while bare while still protecting her soles from the tiny gravel of the dry lot, providing a small degree of additional cushioning, and also allowing me to apply hoof-hardening poultices that would stay on her feet for 12 hrs at a time.

    She is now absolutely fine barefoot in mud, snow, sand, and out in the pasture. Nowadays we keep the boots for higher mileage rides on abrasive footing (like fine pea gravel + sand) or any kind of ride on rocky footing, especially if we're trying to go at speed (7 mph+ trot, canter, gallop). Our local endurance rides take place on some of the rockiest footing in VA and they *require* hoof protection, be it shoes with pads or boots. You are not allowed to start barefoot and if you finish with a missing boot or shoe you can basically be disqualified. We covered close to 1,000 trail miles in 2014, about 2/3 of that in boots because we were training at speed over technical trails during the bulk of our conditioning. I use Renegades or Easyboot Gloves depending on the footing: for rocks, I prefer Renegades. For mud, I prefer the Gloves: Lily's hooves are not really the ideal shape that is perfect for Renegades and the Rennies will sometimes get sucked off in our MD clay whereas the Gloves will stay on. I will reiterate that we move at mostly trot, canter and gallop with the boots, through pastures, sand, gravel, rocks, up and down mountains, through rivers and streams and for the most part, the boots stay on when I have the right sizes on her.

    In the winter we ditch the boots entirely for a few months. Lily has SO much better traction barefoot than with any kind of boot over mud, ice and snow, and the hard frozen footing does not bother her at all when temps consistently stay below freezing. In the spring when mud prevails (long periods of mud = softer soles), she starts wearing boots most of the time for trail rides again to protect her feet.

    It's kind of an art making boots work but I love not having to worry about shoes getting sucked off in the pasture, about her hooves getting too long if the farrier can't come out, about her twisting a shoe on the trail (this happened to a friend and she had to wait for someone to come to the rescue with hoof nippers so she could remove the shoe the whole way! The shoe had shifted just enough so that one of the clips was digging into the horse's white line but the shoe was still on tight enough that it could not be budged with just bare hands. I had this happen to a personal horse too), I don't have to worry about her slipping on pavement or ice, and I don't have to worry about ice balls forming under her shoes. It's *awesome* to be able to gallop through fresh snow, which is something that we would not be able to do if she was wearing shoes. :)

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  13. I pretty much avoid them at all costs, but they do have their uses. However, if my horses are a little foot sore I'd rather just use Cobra Hoof Freeze for a few days. If they had bad, weak feet then I would use the boots. Or of they were barefoot and I was going on a trail ride. It's a rocky bitch around here.

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  14. I've always had good luck with the BOA boots. We had a Shire who had them on all four and she was actually used in a commercial... Unfortunately I was always the one doing morning turnout and putting those b*tches on sucked... But then I got a pair for LB's (my OTTB) fronts when we started to jump more and I loved them. Still have them but unfortunately, my QH has a wider foot spread :(

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  15. You know that all ours are barefoot, but because it's so dry around here and we do roadwork when it's wet (because hello, NO INDOOR), we use boots to protect their feet since they tend to soften up and be more vulnerable then. Otherwise the boys are rock-crunching over all terrain.

    If I had a horse with a shoeing cycle off, I'd see how he did on which terrain and protect his feet (if needed) accordingly. If he's fine in the arena but ouchy in turnout, I'd boot for t/o. I'd probably use something like durasole every other day as well. I'd try to keep his feet dry, and I wouldn't worry about the chipping (it's just the hoof trying to trim itself naturally). I'd also keep a close eye on thrush in the heel, since that stuff LOVES to move in when it's wet. Good luck with Courage, I'm sure he'll do great!

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  16. The only hoof boot I've used are the horse sneakers - they are literally running shoes. Pretty cool, and apparently stay on very well.

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  17. I've never used them, but then again, I've never shod my own horses either. Thoroughbred was upset about that when I had his shoes pulled before I bought him, but we stuck to soft surfaces and covered him in hoof hardener for a few months and he toughened up. Marching around the pastures looking for lost shoes (and paying the farrier to shoe the beasts instead of just trim them) does not appeal to me and I've simply been lucky to have horses with good feet.

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  18. I started using hoof boots with Roz and have continued with Benny. Benny is fine for ring work barefoot but I do put his cavallo boots on when we are going out on gravel trails. They work great and keep me from needing to shoe him for a few trail rides a month. They are also easy to put on/off and they stay put.

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  19. My first Grand Prix horse (I leased him) was barefoot and wore easy boots when we rode. In shows, because they're illegal, I would cast him (search google for "hoof casting" it's WEIRD). It totally worked! He had navicular, I believe, and managed to stay very sound through the Grand Prix level with his owner and then me a few years later.

    I think I might try some for Rico's hind feet when we trail ride. One of them already has a chip from walking down the gravel road to the arena, I don't want to know what a good canter out on the trail will do for him. He's barefoot for the first time ever as of a few weeks ago though, so he's getting used to it.

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  20. Nancy has been barefoot since summer 2013, I started working with a barefoot farrier in September 2014 (i think) as i decided to try transition Kika to barefoot too, but as she is inclined to paw when it's feeding time and or when she is tied in cross ties - i opted to start using an actual barefoot farrier a friend had told me about.
    Sadly Miss Kika can't seem to stop herself and depending on what the farrier says this Saturday i will either try her with a boot on the foot she is misshaping or put front shoes back on her. K isn't sore or lame or anything, but i think i am playing with fire and it'll only be a matter of time till she starts to feel sensitive on it

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    1. Oops sorry all that waffle and i didn't actually say what i wanted to say - which is that I have never needed boots with Nancy but might now with Kika because of her pawing not evade she hurts on different types of ground or in work. Silly retire lacking in basic hoof preservation

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  21. My mare is barefoot 100% of the time, so her feet are pretty tough and I haven't needed boots for the most part. The only time I had wished I had had them was on a trial ride that had a lot of gravel road sections. If I start doing more trail riding in the future I'll definitely get her some.

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  22. I've used boots during different transition periods of Pig's barefoot life. He desperately needed them when I pulled his shoes the second time (should NOT have pulled them the way I did the first time, lesson learned!). I pulled on advice from an excellent lameness vet who suggested that the extra weight from shoes was going to be more of an issue with Pig's fetlock fusing than just transitioning over to bare. The boots were instrumental in keeping him moving enough to start building sole.
    *Note* Horses cannot build up a sole without moving as much as possible. This means as much turnout as you can possibly give them, and riding or handwalking for a significant amount of time as often as possible. (I add this, because I feel many people don't realize this, and wonder why their stalled horses develop sore feet.)

    Though they were useful for helping Pig through a tough time when his sole depth was very shallow, I don't use them now. His soles are very good, and he rarely ends up with bruised soles from the occasional hunk of gravel on the dirt road, which we walk and trot on regularly. I hate riding in them, as they're a bitch to fit and I don't have the money or patience to persevere in finding the right pair, plus the weight issue is more of a thing with boots than shoes, I feel.

    Fit wise, I had good luck with the Cavallos I used. They stayed on well, and Pig didn't seem to mind them much. When I still owned them we used them on other horses, including for some field galloping shenanigans, with no complaint.

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  23. Everyone has already voiced good "why" opinions, but let me just say that as someone who spent an entire semester fucking around with Easy Boots, THEY ARE THE WORST THING EVER. There are soooo many more good brands out there.

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  24. I didn't have time to read through all the other comments but I was going to recommend Renegades and Hoof Wings as good hoof boots.

    The Renegades are quite durable and don't get sand caught in them, well maybe just a little at the toe. They have to be quite durable as people use them in the Tevis! Also, I never saw any rubbing when I used them on my mare.

    Hoof Wings are more expensive, but they are custom made to your horse. You take measurements and tracings of your horse's foot and they make them. I also didn't see any rubbing with these and they are really well made. Great people to work with too.

    Best of luck! Check them out! :)

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