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Horse foot in boot
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hoof boot fitting
IT’S ALL ABOUT FIT
It’s hard for any one boot to fit all hooves, especially hooves with very high or low heels. It seems that low-heeled horses have the greater problem; most boots are built to accommodate higher heels and the extra material can rub a low-heeled foot.
Sometimes your horse will be between sizes. The boots will fit when the feet are trimmed, but not at the end of the trimming cycle. See if you can get a rasp and keep up on rounding the edges of your horse’s hooves each week. It’s actually easier to do weekly trimming than waiting to do all at once.
Many horses actually require two different boot sizes, one on each front foot. Check to see that the manufacturer will accommodate you.
Most horses are comfortable and work well in front boots only. I drove carriage for years on asphalt roads with only old-style Easy Boots on front. Front feet bear most of the horse’s weight.
Unless there is a specific problem with the hinds, front boots are generally sufficient.
Boot problems (some caused by boot fit, others by boot design, some just a freak incident) can include:
• Rubbing, abrading
• Sand and grit getting into the boot
• Boot locking mechanism failure
• Boots shifting
• Boot loss, especially after fording a creek or stream or mud sucking boots off
• Hours lost looking for boots instead of going on a ride!
Some booting problems my hoofcare clients have encountered include leaving boots on while the horse is stabled. Zeus, a BIG 19-hand Warmblood, had a nasty run-in with a boot. The owner left the boot on overnight for therapeutic reasons. The next day she found the boot had shifted. The strap rubbed a one-inch wide by five-inch long swath above the hairline. Over the next few days, the hair sloughed off. An angry sore erupted from within, leaving a permanent scar.
Boots are not recommended to be worn over horseshoes, especially long-term. I knew an endurance gal who did this for a couple years for added protection on rough trails. To be sure the boots stayed put, she glued the boots in place with foam adhesive. She told me her horse had gone lame and suffered bone loss. Apparently it was caused by pressure on the coffin bone resulting in bone de-mineralization.
One new boot on the market that has shown great promise in my clientele is the Renegade. Developed by barefoot trimmer Kirt Lander of Arizona, the boots are available predominately through hoofcare practitioners.
Kirt points out that more than 70 patents on hoof boots have been recorded since1860! “That shows how difficult it is to get right,” Kirt says. “It would have been easier to build a bridge than do the work we’ve put into developing this boot.”
Even so, he’s done a good job. My clients who use them love them. The boot has a low profile and does not rub the coronet. The heel region floats independently to accommodate both high and low heels. The boots come in cool custom colors. They hold up to endurance riding. In fact, in 2005 Kirt and his wife, Gina, rode their own 2200 endurance miles to help develop the boot.
A good way to locate boots at a discount is to find a pair of used boots. Someone else’s cast-off. Perhaps the boot just didn’t fit. The previous owner ended up not using them. Or the horse no longer needs them. Barefoot trimmers usually have a stash of used boots available. I know I do. It’s great because you can try the boot on then and there, instead of having to measure.
Hoof boots are evolving, like much of the equipment we use in the horse industry. Options are increasing. More designs, more manufacturers, more opportunities. It’s a great time to be a horse. And a great time to be a boot!
Dawn Jenkins specializes in barefoot trims (since 1990) and therapeutic shoeing in California and Hawaii. She is a student of Gene Ovnicek, Pete Ramey, and her old-time farrier uncle, Ink Knudson—who still trims and shoes at the age of 80! Dawn also teaches hands-on-hoofcare, trimming and shoeing, to those who are bold enough to dare. (661) 245-2182 firstname.lastname@example.org (661) 703-6283 cell