Editor's Note: This article expands on the Pages 36 and 37 feature in the April 2014 issue of American Farriers Journal that dealt with how to “Boost Profits With Boots.”
When it comes to making hoof boot modifications, many are as simple as adding a composite hoof material and making a few swipes with your rasp.
Larkin Greene, a Vettec staffer from Sacramento, Calif., told attendees at the 2014 International Hoof-Care Summit that boots can be easily adjusted not only for each horse but customized for each foot.
“We modify everything else under the sun, so why not boots,” he says. “We can adjust the toe, we can add material to adjust for poor fit and we can add heel support and cushion.”
Here are a few of Greene’s suggestions for modifying hoof boots.
The most familiar limitation with boots is poor fit, which creates gaps that result in movement of the foot within the boot, which leads to rubbing and ultimate failure.
With gaps, especially in the toe quarters where a boot may not fit properly, Greene suggests smearing a thin layer of Vaseline on the foot in that area, putting the boot on and injecting soft urethane to fill that space.
Another option is to spread an acrylic adhesive to fill in the air space in the bottom of the boot and then use a Dremel tool or sandpaper to adjust the fit.
“That stays in the boot and if you mark the boot for that particular foot, your customization will last over the life of the boot,” says Greene. “This is true as long as you continue to trim the foot and the foot stays the same way.”
Adding Heel Support
A concern Greens sees in boots is that they’re often short on heel support and sometimes should be1/8- or ¼-inch longer in the heel. And if the boot is short now, it will likely be more of an injury concern as the hoof grows out.
In many cases, he says you can also wedge up the boot slightly to provide needed elevation by simply spreading adhesive in the boot.
“You can add length by applying adhesive,” Greene says. “Use a Magic Marker to outline the area where you want to build it. Use a shallow drill bit to drill some holes in there and wire brush it clean. I even use the edge of a rasp to add some surface area. Add duct tape to use as a dam. You can use a liquid urethane and it sets pretty firm like a car tire, and float it on there.
“Once it’s set, trim it, nip it, and you can rasp grooves into it for traction, and effectively add support to a boot that would otherwise be short. You can do that to whatever degree you want to do it.”
In many cases, you can also wedge up the boot slightly to provide needed elevation by simply spreading adhesive in the boot.
Most boots contain enough material so you can quickly rasp the breakover within the boot. Since most boots have a pretty hard floor, dental impression material can be packed into the foot.
“Let the horse stand on it while it sets and molds to the foot,” says Greene. “Otherwise, you will create sole pressure.”
On a level surface, flow about 1/4 inch of liquid urethane into the bottom of the boot. Let it set for 30 or 40 seconds and then throw a little dirt on it so it’s not tacky before you place the horse’s foot in the boot. Then let the horse stand for 10 minutes.
“This makes an impression of the bottom of the foot, but it doesn’t bond to it,” he says. “The material remains in the boot and that alone can dramatically improve the fit of a boot, especially the side shift situation that even good-fitting boots have that can lead to rubbing. If it starts to get dirty or firmer after a couple of months, you can just peel it off the boot and replace it.
“Toe modifications are actually pretty easy. Most boots have enough material in them where you can rasp breakover. If you want to improve breakover, you can rasp it right into the boot and make quick adjustments that way.”
Limitations with boots include poor fit, gaps, movement and rubbing.
Limited closure adjustment is another concern with boots.
Floor support and cushion can be modified.
Adjustments can be made for poor-fitting boots.
Heel support can be added and adjusted.