Make sure the horse has an upright foot or long toe/low heel. Renegades are the only boots I've found that fit low heels and long toes very well. Most of the Easy Care products aside from the Old Mac's are made for quality feet that tend to be on the more upright side and definitely not for a Thoroughbred.
—Jessica Goonan, Goffstown, N.H.

Selecting the boot that most fits the shape and measurements of the hoof. Know what the horse is being used for. Some boots are only for temporary use while others can be used for longer periods of time.
—Diane Saunders, Bristol, Vt.

Find out the customer's riding habits. Watch the horse moving. Look at all four feet before you start to trim. The untrimmed foot will give you a lot of information about how the horse travels, pain issues and confirmation issues. Step back and look at the horse as a whole unit, instead of just looking at the feet. Get a feel for the overall confirmation of the horse.

Do a good level balanced trim. Watch the horse move again. Measure each foot that will be booted based on the specifications and requirements of each booting company has. Use a ruler that measures both in inches and centimeters. Finally, discuss which boots you feel are the best for the horse.
—Cheryl Swayne, Meriden, Kan.

A big problem is shape, as oblong fronts don't work well in most boots and forget big feet! I think if boots fit that well, then farriers would be out of business. Back in ancient times when people depended on horses for travel, war and farming they looked long and hard for an answer to sore worn hooves and decided on the shoe after trying sandals and footwear. Boots are a temporary fix and shoes are the answer if the feet can't handle it alone.
—Walter Varcoe, Port Jarvis, N.Y.

The sizing charts don't work. You have to try them on!
—Pete Ramey, Lakemont, Ga.

Different brands of boots seem to be either round or rectangular.
—Gretchen Cardoso, Makawao, Hawaii

Be able to fit snug enough at the moment but be able to handle a growing hoof if needed to stay on longer. Shape is critical as boots all have a slightly different internal hoof shape. Know what a booted horse will be used for - both short and long term -and whether the horse will be resting, turned our or be ridden.
—Esco Buff, Webster, N.Y.

Durable, waterproof and good aeration.
—Dr. Balakrishna Polanaidoo

Having several sizes to try.
—Dr. Karl Shewmake, Stevens Point, Wis.

I use the Epics because they fit tight with no rotation. They cause no wear at the coronary band or the heel bulbs. The parts are replaceable and repairs are easy. Some boots come off at a trot or rotate on slopes or hillsides. I keep all the sizes and try them on for size. I look for a tight fit in the right places, no pressure on the heel bulbs and no rotation. Sizing charts are too unreliable.
—Cole Henderson, Victoria, British Columbia

Proper size is matters the most.
—Conor McCarthy, Versailles, Ky.

First, the hoof must be trimmed properly since the dorsal wall should have a uniform thickness with the medial and lateral wall. Since breakover will be inherently delayed by adding the boot, it would be even more detrimental to install the boot over a toe that is already of a length and thickness that delays breakover. After the foot has been trimmed, it should be measured for the correct boot fit.
—Phil Gendron, Plymouth, Mass.

Trial and error. The hoof is constantly changing so boots should be fit between trimming intervals. Clients may have to round up a sharp edge or dress some flare to maintain the proper fit. The Riders Rasp is a tool designed for owner hoof rounding care.
—Heather Tomlinson

You must know the product to select the proper boot.
—Shane A. Westman, Skagit Valley, Wash.

Proper trimming of the foot, proper measurement of the foot, a farrier properly fitting the boot to the foot and seeing what boot size fits the best.
—Mike DeLeonardo, Salinas, Calif.

"Measure twice and cut once" as accurate measurement is crucial. Some manufacturers will also let you order two boots if the measurements are between sizes.
—Dean Moshier, Ostrander, Ohio

The key to finding the right boot is getting a good fit. Rubbing won't happen as long as the boot is not shifting when the hoof comes in contact with the ground.
—Trudy Uldrich, Blue Creek, Ohio

 Wall angles, heel height, toe length and their proportions are critical. Sole circumference proportion to coronet circumference is essential.
—Jon Thomas, Scottsville, Ariz.

>>More from the Q&A series "Booting Up Footcare Options"