A shoe weighs approximately 12 ounces while a boot weighs upwards of 2 or 3 pounds.

In the early 1980’s, the trend was ankle weights for fitness but a doctor warned me against wearing them because of the extreme torque on knee and hip joints.
On a trail ride crossing a shallow stream last month I was riding with a partner who had boots on her barefoot horse. At the end of the ride, the boots were full of mud.

How much torque are these boots putting on the knees and shoulders of the horses? Radicals make statements with absolutely no knowledge of anatomy, physics or realistic lameness. I do not carry boots, encourage boots or use boots myself in my practice.

I tell some of my clients to get a set of boots if they have a horse that has shelly walls and will not hold a shoe where glue-ons are not an option for them. I have them start a feeding program with a good hoof formula. I will also tell clients that do a lot of trail riding to carry a hoof boot in case they lose a shoe on the trail. I tell them get whatever boot they like as long as it fits.
—Steve Eastman, Kenwood, Calif.

My work is strictly trimming, I trim 250 to 300 horses a month and I use boots or Equicasts when a horse needs any type of protection. I also fit boots when local farriers need them fit for clients and the farriers have a trim that works for the boots their clients need. I’ve worked with quite a few farriers explaining how my trims work. Some farriers are interested, but many aren’t.

The Gloves and glue-on low-profile Easy Care products, are the hottest of the new boots, and need a beveled trim that wears down over a 5- or 6-week period to really work well.

Any trim that doesn’t flare after 5 to 8 weeks works well for them. These Gloves stay on using surface tension in the lower 1inch of boot, and toes need to be tight to P3. You don’t want any long toes, bull-nosed trims or flares.

Personally, I would rather see farriers picking up a few new tricks and doing booting and trimming along with their shoeing. I earn a good living from trims and are super busy. But there are techniques to getting boots to work right, but not many farriers are ready to switch over. A lot of new barefoot folks are coming onto the scene and some of the best trimmers are folks who started out doing mostly shoes.
—Linda Cowles, www.HealthyHoof.Com

I’m just a horse owner, but have some experience with hoof boots and am very opinionated about them. We foxhunt, as well as show and trail ride. Our horses are also turned out 24/7.

We have yet to see any kind of hoof boot that will stay on for long at a good hard gallop. We’d take any kind of shoe in preference.

Our experience with other people, especially the people who feel shoes are bad, is that their horses don’t keep boots on any better than ours. They simply don’t use their horses the way we do, or if they try to, they inconvenience everyone and appear to be too inconsiderate to care.

We have used Easy Care boots when we have a horse with a problem that required leaving them barefoot and keeping the bottom of the hoof clean. The boots are properly fitted. We get raw rubbed spots on the heels anytime the boots are left on for more than a couple of days. Unless the hoof environment is meticulously dry, it happens even sooner.

If we have a problem that requires longer treatment, believe it or not, Vet Wrap and duct tape, which is replaced as often as needed (some times several times a day) often works better but will eventually lead to the same kinds of hoof problems. In those cases, we bed deep and leave them barefoot.

We do have one horse who has such horrible feet that he will founder without protection. Hoof boots are a lifesaver for him when he loses a shoe.
—Ellen Jeffedries, Pataskala, Ohio

I did not had much success with boots until “Soft Ride” came into the market.

Eight years ago, I turned my basic shoeing practice over to my son and pursued equine podiatry and more aggressive therapeutic shoeing (www.TherapeuticHorseShoeing.com).

In therapeutic shoeing, many times the ground resistance force (GRF) at the toe places a great stress on the deep flexor tendon as well as ligaments. Rocking the toe reduces or removes the GRF.

Soft Ride incorporates the rocker toe in their boot. Conventional boots are bulky and the toe impedes breakover. The “Easy Boot” was cumbersome. The cable tensioner with metal grip plates contributed to hoof wall and coronary injuries when the boot got stepped on or caught and hung up.

Easy Boot has a new line of boots with many different types and styles. The new Therapeutic boot is much lighter weight, incorporates the rocker toe and attaches with Velcro. Orthotic inserts are available in various densities, angles and designs.

I have found both the “Soft Ride” and “Easy Boot” to be very beneficial tools in my business. I encourage my clients to keep boots on hand for all their horses. The boots can be a quick band-aid for many hoof injuries.

Many of the veterinarians I work with prescribe boots to offer protection for the hoof while an injury heals. Boots are great for the hoof that has been trimmed too close and needs a little time to grow out. The newer designed boots with Velcro securing straps don’t have the rubbing problem found with the older boots. When damp conditions create a problem, corn starch or baby powder can help.
—Ron Marshall

Horse boots are here to stay. I had the joy of meeting some of the folks that endorsed Easy Boots many years ago on their ride from South America to Barrow Alaska. They made it and I was impressed at the condition of their boots.

Boots certainly have their pros and cons as most anything does with horses. With the barefoot movement gaining popularity, in my practice I see a lot more usage of boots. There now are many boot styles to choose.

I like boots, but sometimes the shoe is still the way to go. They are great to medicate a hoof or to provide protection when a shoe is lost on the trail. Here in Alaska, they are ideal during the transitional time of year when there is some snow requiring protection and traction. But when boots are cold, they can be difficult to put on and off the hoof.

When a client asks about boots I ask questions regarding the use of the boot, how long is it to be worn, is to replace a shoe or will just be used as a medicine boot to say treat an abscess?

When a person asks about boots and what size I am happy to help. I carry a couple of sizes of boots with me and I’m happy to help them get the right fit. Sometimes I use them on a horse that’s sore until I can get one shoe on to comfort the sore one or to soak a foot when need on the job site.

Different brands fit differently and when someone has a new one I’m quick to inspect it. If a client is lucky to have more than one horse that has the same size feet, this is great if they only ride one horse at a time. Fit is a big concern because if it don’t fit then either it’s dollars left on the trail or in the pocket of someone trying to mend it. So take time to get a good fit.

The other nice thing about boots is that if a client not happy for some reason, they are resalable. If an insert is needed to boost a hoof angle or cushion a sore foot, lots of things can be adapted to fit the bill.

It has crossed my mind to start carrying an inventory, but space in my truck and the cost of carrying a large number of boots has prevented me from doing so. I suggest that you talk with other people in your area, both professionals and your riding buddies and see if boots are right for your situation.
—Heidi Larrabee, Palmer, Alaska

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