Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Search for Hoof Boots Begins

Well, I have now reached the point where I need to start looking for boots for my horse.  For one thing, shoes or boots are required for the Old Dominion Intro Endurance Ride that is my goal for the end of October.  I admit that I was skeptical about the need for shoes/boots for a 15 mile ride, but after riding 10 miles a couple of weeks ago in the area where the ride will be held, I am convinced my horse does need hoof protection.  If I could train on those trails all the time, I could possibly acclimate my horse's feet...or I could really cause some damage.

So, I've decided to give boots a try because I've never had shoes on my horse's feet.  I'm not trying to say that shoes are bad.  Every horse I've owned before Nimo has needed shoes at least most of the time.  They gave support to aging arthritic legs and held together some of the worst feet I've ever seen and I'm convinced they improved my horses' lives.  However, Nimo has really good feet with good soles, good frogs, and good hoof walls.  He does absolutely fine on most footing, except for the really rocky stuff, so it seems to make sense to me that boots should be my first choice.

Here's the problem:  My horse has really big feet.  He's a big guy (just shy of 17 hands) and his feet reflect that.  I measured them at about 6.5 inches wide a couple of days ago.  He is at the end of his trim cycle, but I've been riding enough that honestly there isn't that much growth.  And note to people who use boots already:  I absolutely understand that measuring for boots is supposed to be done shortly after the trim, not just before the trim.  Here's the thing.  My farrier missed his appointment (possibly more about that later, depending on how things go).  I'm on a schedule.  I need to move forward with The Plan to get my horse fitted for boots so I have time to find boots that fit and get my horse used to wearing them and conditioned while wearing them.  I figure that there is the real likelihood that I will end up having to have custom boots made for him, so I need to budget time for that if the off-the-rack boots don't work.

Because of Nimo's hoof size, Renegades were automatically off the roster.  They actually would have been my first choice (possibly solely because they come in multiple colors), but the largest size they come in is 6 inches - just a little too small.  So I went to Easyboots.  And I found out that there are an overwhelming number of choices and all the boots are sized differently.  Perhaps luckily, only a couple models come in sizes big enough to fit Nimo.  So I promptly ordered 4 size 6 and 4 size 7 Easyboot Bare boots thus allowing me to be prepared.  I figure I can just return the size that doesn't fit...or both sizes if neither fits.  But I just hate ordering stuff, returning it, ordering new stuff, returning it...etc.  I'm impatient.  I want to know immediately if the boots are going to work.

I also realize that the company says these boots are no longer made, so the stock is limited to whatever is on hand, but the description seems like what I am looking for.  A nice, sturdy boot designed to mimic the bare foot of the horse.  They will supposedly last 500-1000 miles, which seems reasonable, and I like that they don't use the cable system.  I hate the cable system.  I am not a stranger to Easyboots, having used them in the past when my horse lost a shoe.  I just don't like the prongs that dig into the outside of the hoof wall.  The Easyboot Bares are supposedly a bitch to get fitted, but after that, are much easier to put on.  Maybe that means they will also fall off.  I guess I just have to try them.

Anyway, I've been notified that the boots are en route, so hopefully they will be here in a few days and I can see what the situation is.  I'll keep you posted...


  1. How neat that you can see the Old Dominion trails so early in your endurance career -- I will look forward to hearing about the clinic! (I wish we had something like their horse-camping clinic closer to home; that's the part of branching out to different ride venues that scares me to bits.)

  2. I feel really lucky to have the OD organization so close to me. I love how they put together useful clinics and events for beginning riders or riders working with new horses. I really wanted to go to the horse camping clinic last month, but I didn't have any supplies or panels and I just wasn't ready. Hopefully next year!