There are many reasons for transitioning your horse from shod to barefoot. However, a hoof protection might still be necessary in some cases. But which one should you choose and what should you take into consideration?
Reasons why hoof boots are needed are just as numerous as they are different. On one hand, a horse that lives in a herd should not be shod because the risk of injury would be very high. Shoeing also affects the hoof mechanism negatively as it limits the ability to absorb shock. Whilst, going barefoot allows the hoof to distribute the weight evenly between heel, frog and hoof wall and walking on different surfaces stimulates horn growth as well as it improves the quality of the hooves.
However, when going on a ride with a barefoot horse it is often noticed quickly that some horses cannot cope with the paths as good as others. Many animals react sensitively on rough surfaces like asphalt, gravel or rocky areas and the risk of diseases such as dermatitis increases significantly. Horse hoof boots can help here.
A Temporary Solution
Hoof boots can also be used temporarily, when a shoe is lost. During a trail ride it can be extremely useful to have a quick solution ready. Just as during the transition from shoes to barefoot sensitive horses might need some kind of protection. Horse hoof boots can help a horse with sore feet move correctly while the hoof wall quality is in the process of improving.
For therapy purposes hoof boots can help as a protection for bandages. Many horses with orthopedic diseases can also be helped with the shock absorbing effect of hoof boots.
Different Purpose - different Need
Depending on the intended use there are different requirements for the hoof protection. For long-distance rides or other disciplines in which there is a lot of cantering, the hoof boot must be a particularly snug good fit so it cannot be pulled.
Are Hoof Boots a 24h Solution?
Horse owners often ask whether it is possible to leave the hoof boot on the horse for 24 hours or not. There are some crucial aspects to be considered. On the one hand, a hoof boot must not slip while lying down, rolling, getting up and playing. Since it is practically impossible to constantly supervise the horse there may be no one around to put the horse hoof boot back into place in an emergency. Many hoof boots have closures with wires, screws, and buckles. These can turn into a source for injury, as there is always a risk that the horse will get stuck.
On the other hand, there is the fit of the hoof boots. It can hardly be avoided that the hoof boot does not fit every hoof perfectly, even if it has been fitted professionally. The horse's hooves change constantly throughout the year due to horn growth. What is more, many models or their attachments are designed in such a way as they put pressure on the horn capsule, the bulbs or the sensitive coronet which may lead to damage.
For temporary situations, however, there are special boots for therapy that can be left on the horse for a longer period of time. Even so it is important to check the fit several times a day. The horse's sensitive skin is very prone to chafing and it is crucial to check whether dirt or stones have gotten into the boot.
Situations may arise where your horse is not able to go barefoot or you look for ways to support orthopedic diseases. Whatever the reason it is important that every hoof protection is individually adapted to the hoof and its needs. Always carefully select the product especially when it comes to horse hoof boots. There is no hoof boot that fits all horses and all situations even a well-adjusted hoof boot can reach its limits.