The basic know how about hoof boots
Hoof boots are a good alternative to conventional shoeing for many riders. While the horse can run barefoot on soft surfaces in its free time and at work, the hoof boots is used flexibly as needed, e.g. if a ride is planned where the ground conditions could put too much stress on the hoof.
Riding barefoot comes with many benefits:
- It promotes hoof health and the natural development of the hooves. The hoof is better supplied with blood and can fulfil its function as a tactile organ and shock absorber.
- Barefoot horses often move more fluid, and hooves are naturally more „slip-resistant“ on slippery surfaces than horseshoes.
- Professional hoof care for barefoot horses is less expensive than shoeing.
- Shoeing can damage the hooves. On the one hand, shod hooves tend to dry out and on the other hand, the possibility of bacterial pathogens entering the hoof is increased by the hoof nails, which can then lead to infections.
As our horses are accustomed to soft ground due to the way they are kept, difficult ground conditions such as gravel paths or hard asphalt floors can be a test of hoof health. If you are frequently out and about with your horse, or if you are planning an activity that is not an everyday occurrence, e.g. a trail ride, it is essential to protect unshod hooves from excessive wear. For a horse that is otherwise barefoot, the easiest way to do this is with a well-fitting hoof boot.
Are there also disadvantages with hoof boots?
In most cases, the disadvantages are due to the fact that one has not sufficiently considered one’s own needs and those of the horse when choosing hoof boots. Many riders have had bad experiences with hoof boots because they have lost one or even several during rides. Handling the hoof boots – especially putting them on and taking them off – also seems to be a problem more often. In most cases, the loss of the hoof boots is due to a bad fit. The buckling options differ from model to model. When buying hoof boots, it is important to find the best possible compromise between the ideal fit for the horse and the rider’s individual preferences in terms of handling.
Who are hoof boots right for?
- Hoof boots can be beneficial for maintaining hoof health, as conventional shoeing restricts the natural functions of the hoof.
- If you do not want to miss out on rides in difficult ground conditions despite riding a barefoot horse.
- When extreme and unusual stresses are placed on the horse’s hoof, e.g. a trail ride or endurance ride.
- If you want to transition the horse from shoeing to barefoot, hoof boots are useful for the transition phase in order to slowly get the hooves used to the different ground conditions.
- Some horses develop a great fear of the farrier. If the circumstances allow you to keep your horse barefoot, hoof boots are an alternative. However, regular barefoot care by a professional is still essential.
What do I have to consider when using hoof boots?
- The most important basic requirement is regular treatment and care of the hooves by a professional. Hoof care should ideally take place every 5-6 weeks so that the hoof shape is also compatible with the hoof boot. Here, as a horse owner, you should regularly check the condition of the hooves and individually assess at what rhythm hoof treatment is necessary.
- In order to find the right hoof boot, you should always seek intensive advice. More information on how to determine the right hoof boot size and what to look for in the fit of the hoof boot can be found here.
- Before using the hoof boots, always make sure that the hoof is clean before putting them on. Also, before putting them on, always make sure that there are no small stones or grains of sand inside the hoof boot that could cause chafing.