As the barefoot approach grows by leaps and bounds, the demand for hoof boots is also skyrocketing. In Volume 2, Issue 1, we reviewed the most popular high-tech and efficient hoof boots for riding. But hoof boots are also important for therapeutic needs, such as in laminitic horses whose feet need some protection. We asked three barefoot trimmers to review three hoof boots designed to be supportive for hoof healing.
HOOFFix Emergency Boot
Plum Shade Farm Coatesville, Pennsylvania (610) 486-0708 www.plumshadefarm.com
$34.99 per boot HOOFFix
Emergency Boot is a compact, lightweight (less than 5 oz) “spare tire” for temporary situations. Made with ballistic nylon and other proprietary fabrics. Bottom incorporates ground tires and closure by industrial strength Velcro.
Intended use and main benefits: A “spare tire” for a lost shoe or temporary support for horses who need some extra cushion to protect the hoof. Since they are fabric, they do not rub, can fit into your pocket or saddle pack, and size does not need to be exact.
Sizes: Small and Regular horse size.
Warranty: 30-day replacement for defects in materials and workmanship. Damage caused by misuse, wear or accidental damage is not covered.
Additional options: HOOFFix Emergency Boot comes with two pastern bands. The Emergency Trail Boot includes a hoof pick, pastern band and carrying case.
Castle Hoof Boot
Castle Plastics, Inc. Leominster, Maryland (978) 534-6220 www.castleplastics.com
Sold only through retailers. Cost varies but approximately $35 each.
Easy to apply, light-weight boot for hoof rehabilitation and light riding. The body of the boot is neoprene rubber and the bottom is durable polyurethane. Closure is on top and back by Velcro.
Intended use and main benefits: Protection to prevent injury, aid in healing, during light riding or loss of a shoe. Boot fits into a saddle bag.
Sizes: 00-3 ranging from 4 ½” wide by 4 7/8” long up to 5 5/8” wide by 6 1/8” long. Hoof must be measured.
Warranty: Will replace once.
Additional options: None offered.
Soft-Ride, Inc Vermilion, Ohio (866) 763-8743 www.Soft-Ride.com
Size 4-7 is $175; Size 2-3 is $200. The price includes the Standard Orthotic.
Durable boot designed to comfort horses with or without shoes. Closed cell foam collar encased in a smooth ballistic cloth. Closure is by double hook and loop system.
Intended use and main benefits: To provide sole support, comfort and relief in rehabilitation, third trimester pregnant mares and post surgical situations. Soft design does not rub and allows the hoof to breath.
Sizes: #2 – #7 or 4.5”– 6.5” hoof width
Warranty: Product replacement for boot failure due to manufacture defect. Call for return authorization.
Additional options: Standard Orthotics and five design/ softness levels of Specialty Orthotics.
Paige Poss is a barefoot trimmer who lives in Virginia with her husband, two boys, nine horses and a host of other animals. She is the creator of an educational website devoted to teaching people about natural hoof care, and is a founder of the new American Hoof Association. With over eight years of experience, Paige offers trimming, consultations and clinics. She can be reached at 540-364-2011 or www.ironfreehoof.com
Paige tested the HOOFfix boot on Colleen, a seven-year-old chronically foundered quarter horse whose feet are very flared and flat. She has a difficult time on gravel or hard, frozen ground. The terrain was muddy and icy during testing.
Paige tested the Castle Boot on Sophie, her 11- year-old Morgan-cross mare, who didn’t have any particular problems. The terrain was firm and hilly, covered in gravel and dirt. The boot stayed on fine until the horse moved up the hill and then it came off. During testing the ground was fairly dry so do not know about using them in mud or ice.
Paige tested the Soft-ride boot on Maggie, a five-year-old Connemara mare that has Lyme disease and frequently suffers from laminitis. The boot was tested in a small paddock that can be slick with mud.
Tester # 2
Kim Cassidy is a barefoot farrier who resides in Chester, New York with her two horses and a host of other critters. Kim maintains a barefoot practice in southern New York and is available for trimming and clinics. www.clickandtrim.com
Kim tested the HOOFfix boot on Murray, an 18-year-old quarter horse with long term founder. He is no longer rotated but still has very thin soles and sunken coffin bone inside hoof capsule. During testing, the terrain had some mud and frozen pitted ground, as well as rocks in some areas.
Kim tested the Castle Boot on Doc, a 16-year-old quarter horse with 20 degree founder in March 2006. Still tender on hard ground or very rocky ground. During testing, the terrain had some mud and frozen pitted ground, as well as rocks in some areas.
Kim tested the Soft-ride hoof boots on Ashrei, a six-year-old thoroughbred mare with severe founder. Ashrei spends her time either in the stall without hoof boots or turned out in a small grassy/dirt paddock.
Tester # 3
Courtney Vincent is a natural trimmer based in Arizona. She has learned from many top natural hoof care experts such as Pete Ramey, Mike LaGrone, James Welz, Martha Olivo and KC La Pierre, and provides services to over 400 horses. She especially enjoys working with rehabilitation cases. Naturalhorsetrim@aol.com
Courtney tested the HOOFfix boot on Lucy, a 21-year-old quarter horse mare with an inverted coffin bone and severe ringbone. The terrain was hard-packed dirt.
Courtney tested the Castle Boot on Willie, a 15-year-old quarter horse with founder and very thin soles. The terrain was hard-packed with some softer, sandy areas.
Courtney tested the Soft-ride boot on Silver, a 13-year-old gelding with very tender, thin soles. The terrain was hard dirt with rocks and gravel.