Submitted by Jordan Junkermann, EasyCare Product Specialist
Some of you may be new to the booting world. I am only a year into this experience, so I'm still new to booting. There are many factors that lead us towards booting our horses. Some have always had barefoot horses, some are just removing iron shoes to begin the long journey to a healthy, happy foot, or maybe you are one of the all too common cases of laminitis, founder, navicular, or another hoof disease and are desperately looking for comfort and relief for your equine friend.
So here you are, searching the internet for a hoof boot company that will work for you. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of directions you could go. If you find yourself on our EasyCare website then you have tab after tab of options: Pleasure Riding, Performance, Therapy, or EasyShoes. How do you choose which boot is best for you? One option is to narrow down what you are wanting to use the boot for. That often helps point you in the right direction, but now you have to begin the trial and error process of getting a good fit. Luckily, you are not alone in this journey. We have a few different resources for you to gather as much information as you need to make the best decision, including each boot description, our blog site, videos on our YouTube page, the fitting assistant form, the EasyCare Fit Kit (Glove/Back Country and EasyShoe) or our highly educated Product Specialist Team. EasyCare’s mission is to improve the well-being of horses by providing the equestrian community with superior service, education, and innovative equine products.
As an employee with EasyCare and new to booting I have had the opportunity to try out a few of our boots. My mare, Pistol, is barefoot and only tender occasionally. I use the boots for riding on rocky Colorado terrain, but there are many boots in our lineup that would work for the type of riding I do. The biggest determining factors are her hoof shape and the length of her trimming cycle.
The first boot I tried was the Easyboot Epic. It is forgiving in fit and designed for longer trimming cycles, such as the 6-8 week trim cycle Pistol is on currently. I wanted a positive first booting experience and the Easyboot Epic is a good place to start. The application process is not incredibly difficult although getting the heel strap in the right place and the cable tightened just right can take a few tries to get accustomed to. Unfortunately, my mare was not used to going through water crossings at this point and attempted to avoid the water by climbing a few trees. In the process of hoping across the stream, like a frog might, she tore one of her gaiters on a sharp rock. I don’t blame the boot. She was acting wilder than she would have normally and the location for that tantrum was not ideal. Since then I have removed the gaiters and created the Original Easyboot instead of replacing the ripped gaiter.
The second boot I have used is the Easyboot Glove. This is definitely one of my favorites. I love the slim fit which allows her to move freely at any speed and doesn’t allow debris to enter the soft tissue areas near the hoof. Although I appreciate the functionality of this boot, it only works for my horse for part of her trimming cycle. This boot is designed to accommodate 4 weeks of growth so that there is a snug, secure fit throughout that time period, so I can only use this boot the first couple of weeks unless I rasp her hoof down. If someone has the financial ability to, I would suggest they purchase a size that fits the first part of the trimming cycle and another set that fits for the last part if they have a longer trimming cycle.
I also tried the Easyboot Back Country since that boot has the same snug fit as the Glove but is more forgiving in fit. I had some trials with that boot as I transitioned into full barefoot. Her heel bulb angle didn’t allow for me to get the velcro to close the way that EasyCare suggests. I modified the boots by adding a half size up larger upper and that solved my problem.
My favorite “slip-on-and-go” boot is the Easyboot Trail. That boot slides on with no effort the first day after the trim and the last day before the next trim. It is always easy to just put the hoof into and it stays secure. There is no turning or twisting. I am lucky and have fairly good connection around the top of the boot: a little bit of space but not huge gapping. Some debris has gotten into the boot but it is easy to shake out at the end of a ride. If someone is concerned about rocks getting into the boot the best option would be to use a human sock to prevent rocks from getting in or the Gaiters that come with the Old Mac's G2.
This past spring, my mare went into a very intense heat cycle. She was pacing when she was in her pen so much that she was wearing her feet down a lot. She wasn’t ride-able because she was so sore. I used the Easyboot Transition, that is now discontinued and in our Bargain Bin. The Cloud or Rx boot would have worked just as well I put them on her when she was stalled so she could not wear anymore of her hoof down.
I am fortunate enough to have a horse with a hoof shape that fits in many of our boots. Some horses will have limited options and that will help narrow down the boot possibilities. We have a variety of sizing charts in order to accommodate a variety of hoof shapes. It is hard to fit every horse out there even with seven different sizing charts.
Everyone has had their own stories, good and bad about the boots they have tried. It can be overwhelming to try and pick the boot that is right for you. Feel free to contact the EasyCare Product Specialist Team, use our fitting assistant, or our other "Contact Us" resources to get advice on sizing for your horse. We are happy to help.