Only if they don't fit well and cause rubbing and sores. And only if the owner insists that the horse go barefoot because they can use boots, but the horse is really not comfortable enough in them. Otherwise I think a lot of long distance trail riders are turning towards boots over shoes.
—Jessica Goonan, Goffstown, N.H.
Chafing of the heel bulbs and improper fitting boots that seem to slop around.
—Laurie Tonita, Saskatoon, Sask.
Absolutely! Horses with thin walls can have the boots work on the quarters and I've seen quarters get even thinner and even once blow out. Because the boots retain moisture whether from the hoof itself or traveling through water, I've seen soles and walls get very soft and end up with separation of the white line or development of an abscess.
—Diane Saunders, Bristol, Vt.
I have had no direct knowledge of this. I have educated an owner against boots because their horse had foot and traveling issues that needed to be corrected with a shoe.
—Cheryl Swayne, Meriden, Kan.
I would never use a boot over a good shoe, as the rubbing problem is too risky.
—Walter Varcoe, Port Jarvis, N.Y.
I've seen problems with rubbing above the coronary, trying to dry hooves out and the boot keeping the hoof humid.
When applied by inexperienced hands or for extended periods.
—Pete Ramey, Lakemont, Ga.
Yes. Irritation and/or severe pressure on the bulbs. A pair of Renegade Boots, fitted by a traveling "certified professional" proceeded to cause abscessing and ruptured flesh at the heel bulbs after the horse wore them for 10 days straight. They were sold to the owner as the best option for a horse to "live—in." The owner was assured the horse could wear them all the time. The boots cost at least $250 for the pair, and the owner was unwilling to put them on her horse after the injury. Conveniently for the " professional," they were back home in another state and declined to give a refund.
—Gretchen Cardoso, Makawao, Hawaii
I've seen times with chaffing the bulbs, boots left on too long, moisture being an issue, debris getting into shoe and causing worse problems. Boots also have to be fitted by someone who knows what they are doing.
—Esco Buff, Webster, N.Y.
Not really if the right boot is available.
—Dr. Balakrishna Polanaidoo
Only instance is when the boots don't fit. Some owners who are determined to use hoof boots and won't take no for an answer even after being told their horse has the wrong foot shape for boots.
—Cole Henderson, Victoria, British Columbia
I have never let it get to that stage, but can see how it could become a problem.
—Conor McCarthy, Versailles, Ky.
My biggest concern and the major reason for not very often utilizing boots is that they delay breakover significantly. First, the hoof must be trimmed properly with the dorsal wall being a uniform thickness with the medial and lateral wall. After the foot has been trimmed, it should be measured for the correct fit. Boots should not be used long term for horses that are worked on a daily basis.
Boots are also clumsy. For riding purposes, they would be suitable only for the occasional hack. Any type of performance horse, such as English, Western, barrel racer, dressage horse, hunter or jumper, of course wouldn't be able to get out of his own way in them. They could additionally pose a potential danger at speed.
—Phil Gendron, Plymouth, Mass.
I certainly would not recommend boots for show hunters, dressage or other disciplines where movement is judged.
Improperly fitted boots, poorly shaped boots or letting them rub not to the point of injury.
—Shane A. Westman, Skagit Valley, Wash.
Easy boots tend to be hard to put on and tear up the foot if improperly taken off. When debris gets inside the boot it can cause lameness in the horse. Boots that have straps around the pastern can come loose and cause rubbing or tripping.
—Mike DeLeonardo, Salinas, Calif.
If not put on properly, the horse's hooves can become sore.
—Neal Imeson, Cottam, Ontario, Canada
We usually use boots as a last resort when shoeing is no longer practical on lame horses.
—Dean Moshier, Ostrander, Ohio
Yes, but that's assuming that both the booter and the shoer are working from a physiologically sound trim, boot and shoe application. I have seen examples of boot harm.
—Shawn Pepper, Yorba Linda, Calif.
The worst problem would be rubbing the coronet or bulbs. This can happen if the boot is not fitted correctly. Some boots are not tall enough on the back of the foot and seem to cause more problems. The Delta boots fit more like a bell boot around the pastern and I have not seen a problem with them.
—Trudy Uldrich, Blue Creek, Ohio
Poorly fitted or maintained boots and inappropriate use can irritate or bruise soft tissue. Accumulation of debris must be monitored with some boot styles. Daily boot changeover is needed to minimize concerns when used for extended wear.
—Jon Thomas, Scottsville, Ariz.