I took my small herd of four horses barefoot in June 2009. As the years begin to add up, I become more and more impressed by the mechanics of the hoof once allowed to expand and contract with work in various conditions.
One of the concerns I’ve heard expressed about using boots on all training rides and for competition, is that the boot creates a flat environment and so the sole is always on a flat plane when it touches the ground. There are various schools of thought that say the healthiest hoof is the hoof that is kept completely bare for as much time as possible, including time spent riding out on the trail.
My horses are completely bare for approximately 99% of the time but it is extremely rare for me to train my horses barefoot. I simply don’t want to increase the risk of lameness from a stone bruise – and since I train at speed, I want to do everything I can to increase the chances of the horses staying sound.
Left hind: evidence of a broad boot contact, even on a nicely concave hoof.
So I challenge the notion of a hoof boot creating a flat sole plane environment. Just as we feel rocks or changes in terrain through our own running shoes, so too does my horse. Whilst it is extremely rare for my horses to take a sore step in boots, I know they can still feel changes in terrain below them. And I know that the hoof flexes within the boot: the evidence is right there at the sole every time I take the boot off. In fact the hoof flexes so much within the boot that the imprint from the base of the boot shell is all the way across the sole when I remove the boots. Shocking, but true.
What’s your take on the flexion within the hoof capsule?
Director of Marketing
I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your equine partner.