As I look back at my years in the hoof care industry and examine the reasons that I believe contribute to hoof boot success, I can now say that I was wrong. In the past I viewed the biggest success factor in a successful hoof boot experience compared to an unsuccessful hoof boot experience as “Fit”. I’ve even compared “Fit” in a hoof boot to “Location” in real estate. If a hoof boot doesn’t fit, how can you expect your horse and hoof boot to perform?
A nicely fit Easyboot Glove
Although I still believe a correct “Fit” to be one of the biggest success factors in hoof boot success, I now believe that hoof trimming and/or lack of trimming to be an equal contributing factor to success. If a hoof is measured and a hoof boot is sized for the hoof based on the measurements, the “Fit” and corresponding experience will be positive. Moving forward, unless the hoof is maintained and trimmed it will quickly change and will be different than the original measurements. As the hoof changes more and more from the original measurements it is less likely that the hoof boot selected based on the original measurements will continue to fit well and provide a positive experience.
One of my horses feet after a maintenance trim.
A well maintained and trimmed #1 hoof is 115mm wide and 125mm long. Based on the measurements the hoof fits snugly into a #1 Easyboot Glove. All is well but if the hoof is not maintained and trimmed, the hoof will flare and toe will grow. The unwanted flare could add 10%-20% to the width of the hoof and increase the width from 115mm to 125mm or 130mm. The boot will now be hard to apply and won’t fit correctly. The experience will now be less than positive. Frustrating but it’s not the hoof boots fault as we are now asking the boot to fit a different hoof.
Now let’s look at the problem from the other end. Measurements are taken on a hoof 4 to 5 weeks after a trim and the hoof measures 125mm wide x 130mm long. Hoof boots are ordered and fit like a glove after arrival. All is well but a week later the trimmer shows up and does a fabulous job trimming. The lack of flare looks great and the toe length looks awesome. You’re excited for a trail ride and take off down the trail. Your hoof boots come off and you are frustrated with the process, hoof boots and keeping your horse barefoot. When you return to the barn you take hoof measurements again and the hoof now measures 115mm wide and 125 long. Frustrating, but it becomes apparent why a boot won’t stay on the hoof, it’s now much smaller.
You ask yourself “what gives, how can I make this work?” The answer is consistent trimming and trying to keep the hoof and hoof shape more uniform during a trimming cycle. Sounds easy but how do you keep a hoof more uniform during a trim cycle?
1. Hire a good hoof care professional to come every 4 weeks. Sorry a 6 week or 8 week cycle is too long.
2. Ask your hoof care professional to show you how to do maintenance trim. Purchase a good rasp and a Hoofjack and practice what they show you.
3. Ask your hoof care professional to evaluate your maintenance trims on the next visit. Ask them what you need to change and do better. The answer may be “more in this area, less in this area, more off the toe”.
4. Continue to perform maintenance trims and as you become more confident and your results improve move your hoof care professional to 6 weeks and then 8 weeks.
5. Keep the hoof care professional on board and involved. Ask them for feedback and help. Make sure they continue to come at least every 8 weeks. Keeping them involved will give you a good starting point and balanced hoof to start your maintenance every 8 weeks. In the worst case scenario your horse is 8 weeks away from balanced trim by your hoof care professional.
I was wrong. It’s not just about the “Fit”. A good “Fit” is essential but to get there and stay there requires proper measurements and consistent hoof shape. Consistent hoof shape is the difference between sometimes success and all the time success.
President & CEO
I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.