Published in Saddle Up Magazine October 2015
Hoof boots can be a great tool to protect your horse’s hooves and to add comfort for them while riding. Boots allow the barefoot horse that is comfortable in his paddock or pasture to adapt to a rocky trail or hard packed surface without the risk of sensitivity or bruising. While most barefoot horses can adapt to these surfaces over time, some need added protection while transitioning from shoes or if they cannot get enough exposure to these surfaces to properly condition and callous their hooves. There are many different manufactures of boots, and each manufacturer has a different line up of styles. In this article I am going to explore the most popular EasyCare Inc. boots that I use in my hoofcare practice on a daily basis and what I have found to be their best intended uses.
The most popular boot in my business is the Easyboot Trail. The trail boot is easy to put on and take off, has a secure double Velcro attachment system and the new model also has an extra safety strap to ensure the boot stays put. This boot has an aggressive tread pattern for trail riding and for added traction you can add studs. Sizing is very specific and hooves must be measured carefully as with all hoof boots, but the trail boot is a little more forgiving than others and allows a bit more space for hooves that are flared or not quite a standard shape.
Another very popular boot is the Easyboot Glove. The glove is a slim, form fitting boot that does well with performance horses. The semi-aggressive tread pattern is great in arenas and on trails. For aggressive trail riding or for performance use an added power strap is recommended to secure the front of the shell. This boot is popular with endurance riders because of is light weight and streamlined design. The Glove is able to be fitted with studs for extra traction. Proper fit and hoof shape are essential for the Glove, as it is a form fitting boot.
The New Mac Boot is an updated version of an older boot, the Old Mac. The New Mac is composed of a specially developed Thermo Plastic Urethane compound which minimizes concussion and shortens recovery time for horses with concussion-related injuries. Similar to the trail boot but with added suspension to support the hoof. It is a great option for pleasure riding (less than 25 miles per week) and can also serve as a therapy boot. The New Mac is also a little more forgiving than others in terms of hoof shape and allows a bit more space for hooves that are flared or not quite a standard shape.
The Easyboot Glove Backcountry is a boot that combines the best features of the Trail Boot and the Glove. It has the form fitting shell of the glove and the easy Velcro attachment system of the Trail Boot. This boot is great for the extreme trail enthusiast and the endurance rider alike. It is a high performance boot with a simple comfortable design that is easy to put on and take off.
The Easyboot Transition was designed for horses needing a bit of extra support when transitioning from shod to barefoot. It offers a combination of shock absorption and support to the hoof. This is a good boot for pleasure riding (less than 25 miles per week) and is also suitable for some therapeutic applications. The transition is one of the more supportive boots available, and has a semi-aggressive tread pattern.
Choosing the right boot is very important, as they were designed with specific attributes in mind. Sizing is also critical with hoof boots. Measuring accurately and purchasing a boot that is recommended for your horses hoof shape is important. Not all hooves are round and symmetrical and some boots fit better than others for differing hoof shapes. If possible talk with your hoofcare provider about what type of boot they can recommend for your horse or contact a dealer and see if they can recommend a boot to suit your riding needs.
Kristi Luehr is a Natural Trimmer, and founder of the Okanagan School of Natural Hoof Care. She hold certification with the Canadian Farrier School as well as the Oregon School of Natural Hoof Care. Her focus is to educate owners about hoof anatomy, hoof mechanism, and the importance of a natural trim, based on the wild horse model.