Hoof Boots - The sound alternative
to conventional horse shoes |
courtesy of Karen Chaton and her 100 mile horse, Granite Chief +/.
If you decide not to shoe your
horse, but still need some type of protection on rocky trails,
or during the transition period, then you'll most likely find
hoof boots to be the best option. Before I go into the details
of hoof boots, I want to make an important point that I hope
you will take special note of. It is never acceptable to
work your horse beyond the limits of his spectrum, using hoof
boots as a "bandaid." In other words, if your horse has
issues with his feet that indicate he should be in a
rehabilitation program developing healthier structures, you
don't want him out on the trail in boots doing a 5 hour ride
"just because you can."
I personally use and recommend
the Easycare boot line, particularly the Epics, Bares, and Old
Mac G2s. I have found these boots to be reliable, affordable,
safe, and effective. I've been using these boots for about 5
years, and am very happy with the results. There are other
types of boots available, and I've listed some of them on this
page, but their reviews are mixed, or there isn't much
information available about them. Easycare Inc. by FAR has the
BEST website of all the boot manufacturers. There are hundreds
of charts, images, and articles detailing every aspect of
nearly all their products. I don't feel that any other boot
manufacturer comes close to providing the level of
professionalism and product support that Easycare
Sometimes no matter how great the foot is on our
horses, the foot just can't compete against the rockiest of
trails. Especially if the horse will be on those rocks for an
extended period of time (such as during an endurance ride, or
long trail ride). Sometimes the horse may have great feet, but
the rider is heavy, and wants to do a long ride. Common sense
tells us that the work we demand of our horses sometimes
exceeds their natural abilities. This is fine, if we can
provide adequate protection which doesn't compromise the
horse. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the horse!
It simply means that we are asking the horse to do more than
what nature ever intended him to do. Nature never intended a
horse to travel at a working trot and canter over 100 miles of
challenging footing in 11 hours. But we ask this of our horses
when we compete in an endurance ride. I want to make it clear
that I am NOT against working horses hard. Not at all! But we
must know that if we choose this type of work, we have an
obligation to protect our horse - whether it is their back,
their mental health, their legs, their metabolic stablity, or
There is no shame in using hoof boots
on your horse! Too many times I read in forums, or
articles that if a horse is "barefoot" that he should be truly
"BAREFOOT" meaning no boots. Nonsense!! Please do NOT use the
boots as a bandaid to cover up poor structure, but do
recognize that sometimes what we ask of our horses is above
and beyond, and we need to provide protection. It is not a
badge of honor to say "My horse covered 25 miles of the
rockiest trail you've ever seen totally bare - no boots!"
Sure, if your horse can do that, good for you and the horse.
But if not, there is no shame in it. I don't believe in
risking stone bruises or damage to the lower limb by running a
horse over rocks to prove a point.
When I hit a rocky
trail that I will be on for a notable amount of time, I always
boot. Maybe my horse "could" trot and canter 20 miles over
ragged terrain and big sharp rocks, but I won't chance a stone
bruise and subsequent abscess just to prove it is possible.
The absolute LAST thing I want is to be stranded 20
miles out of camp with a lame horse and no way to get her out!
There are too many unknowns and risks when you chose this type
of riding as it is. To purposely put my horse in a position to
very possibly be injured and stranded out in the woods would
be foolish and downright neglectful.
The beauty of hoof
boots is that once the ride is finished, you pull the boots
off, and you have healthy, bare, unharmed feet. Even shod
horses have no protection for the soles, unless they are
wearing pads as well. The problem then becomes thrush between
shoeing cycles because the pad cannot be removed to clean the
hoof, or allow air and sunlight to penetrate. There is no
reason to use shoes if hoof boots will suffice.
final comments on the subject - Please do not EVER compromise
the safety of your horse or risk his soundness just to prove a
"barefoot" point. Also, you will never hear me trying to talk
you out of horseshoes. Horseshoes sometimes are the best
answer for the situation at hand. It is up to YOU as the owner
to decide what's best for your animal. If you want to try the
shoeless and hoof boot method, I will be happy to work with
you and determine if this is a good route to pursue. If you
just can't get yourself to pull those shoes, then please take
some time and consider it thoroughly. At the end of the day,
YOU have to be happy with the decision you make.
Click for full sized
So just what
is the attraction to hoof boots?
Please contact me if you need help
sizing your horse for boots, fitting them, or want any other
general information. I recommend Easycare Inc.'s line of boots
as I've found them to be high quality, and the best fitting
- No nail holes in the hoof
- Only worn when needed - as much or little as necessary
- Doesn't create excess concussion
- Greater traction
- Owner has freedom to make changes on their own
- Protects entire hoof wall and sole
- MUCH cheaper than conventional shoes
- Outlasts shoes 4 to 1, or more!
- Allows hoof to flex and distort naturally
- Padding inside boot can be customized as
**Frog supports come in different heights and
|Easycare, Inc. Boot Lineup:
Recently I've read some talk about hoof
boots being inferior to shoes because they cannot provide the
same traction. People are concerned about horses slipping on
ice or while traveling fast over wet grass, and so forth.
There are two ways the boot manufacturer addresses this - The
Easyboot Grip, and Studs, which can easily be applied to most
boots. I have found riding in Studs to provide excellent
traction, even on glare ice.
plenty of modifications you can make to hoof boots to
customize them for your particular horse, and situation. Shown
below are two Easyboot Bares, both size 0. The boot on the
left has been heavily rasped to enhance breakover. The boot on
the right was NOT rasped, but worn on a horse twice. You can
see the difference in the red lines. The lines indicate where
breakover is situated on each boot. The second set of photos
shows how the front clip can be removed to reduce the toe
profile, and reduce weight of the boot.
- The BEST blog for everything you ever wanted to know about
Inc. (Easyboot Epics, Bares, Grips, Boa Boots, Old Macs
Generation 1 and 2, Gloves, Glove Wides, Trail, Glove Back Country)
The Importance of HOOF
I *ALWAYS* use EVA
foam pads inside my hoof boots and have found them to be
absolutely vital to hoof health, proper loading, energy
transfer, and proper stimulus for growth. Pete Ramey said it
best when he said that - hoof boots and pads are a real
breakthrough in healing. Using boots without pads is fine, but
for optimum results, pads are a must. The sole surface of the
boot interior is hard and flat and offers no stimulation or
support to the sole and frog, but only the hoof wall. Adding a
set of pads equalizes load across the entire solar surface, as
There are three main options for hoof
pads that I am aware of: Easycare's EVA foam pads, Hoof Wraps'
EVA foam pads, and Thinline's hoof pads. I have used both the
EVA varieties and can highly recommend them. I also highly
recommend the Thinline pads. They make horses very
comfortable, though they are firmer than the EVAs. If a horse
is in acute pain from laminitis or navicular pathology, the
EVAs may be the better option. However, Thinlines seem to
encourage horses to step out more freely, and show more
confidence in their footing and stride. Whichever type of pads
you choose for your boots, you can be assured that they'll
perform just as you hope!
Easycare EVA Comfort
Pads - "Make them sound, Keep them
Perfect Hoof Wear
Photo courtesy of www.equinepodiatry.org
From the Perfect Hoof
Used in place of conventional
shoeing, the PHWSTM supports the theories and principles of
AEP, the science of holistic hoof care. With the increased
interest in natural horsemanship many horse owners want to
keep their horses barefoot. The PHWSTM aids in the transition
of those horses just out of shoes, and in many cases there is
no down time. Visit the Perfect Hoof Wear
website to read more.
Equicast Hoof Casting
courtesy of www.equicast.us
applied several applications of Equicast now and have to say I
am really impressed with the performance and results. I did
NOT use any adhesive to apply the casts and I have not lost
one yet. In fact they are pretty darned tough to get off
Right now I'm experimenting with Equi-Pak CS
(copper sulfate treatment for thrush) underneath Equicast on a
laminitic/thrushy horse. The horse was IMMEDIATELY much more
comfortable after the applciation than prior to it. So far I
am very hopeful. Pete Ramey has been using this protocol for
quite some time now and has finally published an article about
it. He too is getting excellent results on painful horses.
The Equicast is relatively easy to apply. I say
relatively because there is a slight learning curve. It was
much easier than I imagined it to be though! I applied the
cast, and THEN wet it. It sets up just the same and you get a
LOT more working time. I use a pile of shavings mounded up on
the floor to shape the bottom of the cast. Simply set the foot
down on the shavings, wet thoroughly, then hold up the
opposite leg for 2 minutes or so.
Also I am careful to
look for any uneven or high spots on the bottom of the cast
once it has cured. These can easily be rasped flat. I like the
2" casts best as the horse I've been using them on has Size 1
feet. The last round of casts was with 3" and it was more
difficult to apply and ended up covering the entire sole.
That's not a bad thing, but it wasn't how I intended it. I
think the horse likes it though.
Any excess casting
material not needed can easily be trimmed with a sharp hoof
knife, or even scissors. Just be VERY CAREFUL not to go high
on the heel bulbs, or up to the coronary band and you'll
eliminate yourself a TON of work and heart ache. The better
you apply the cast, the easier and better you'll find the
I have used numerous applications of
Equicast now and my overall observation is that is one more
tool to have in your toolbox should your horse need it.
From Dave Richards'
stronger healthier hoof walls. ETSS is a revolutionary product
for hoof wear protection. The solution for hoof lameness (wall
failure) ETSS restores healthy walls, by adding support to the
whole hoof capsule restoring healthy walls, soles and frog.
Unlike conventional methods ETSS does not overload the hoof
wall. If you can wrap a hoof with duct tape or vet wrap you
can effectively apply Equicast casting tape. Visit the Equicast website to