A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited from England. She has just decided to take her endurance horse barefoot and compete him in boots. It sounds like she has found a sympathetic trimmer who is interested in what she’s doing, so her plan is to schedule him regularly to do the main trim, while she makes touch-ups in between. As far as I can tell hoof boots are still far from the norm in Britain, with most "professionals" convinced that having horses barefoot just won’t work and advising their clients accordingly <wry face>.
Initially she picked my brain over the internet…
What Equipment Would She Need?
- A pair of gloves (v. v. important to avoid knuckle rasping)
- A hoof pick (I like the ones with the bristle brush on the back)
- A good rasp (blunt, rusty rasps are no fun and result in much puffing and frustration)
- A sharp narrow-bladed hoof knife (wide-bladed ones are designed for draft horses as far as I can work out)
- A hoof stand (this is a lot of money to invest in, but believe me, your life will be so much pleasanter with one than trying to do this without. Without you’ll be sad and tired and struggle)
- A rubber mallet
What Boots Would She Need?
She was a little confused by the difference between Glue-Ons and Gloves. I explained that although they were essentially the same base-model, Gloves were what she would be using for conditioning and events because of how easy they were to use and quick to put on and take off. You’d only really use Glue-Ons if you were doing a 100 miler, a multi-day, or practising the gluing technique. Once those puppies are on, they aren’t going anywhere without the application of some brute force and a wide-bladed screwdriver.
What Size Boots Would She Need?
I explained about measuring the foot accurately to figure out what size boot her horse would need and then I explained that Murphy’s Law dictates that your horse’s feet will never fall within the confines of the "correct" measurements for a specific boot size, so EasyCare came up with the "Fit Kit".
Say your horse’s foot measures something close to a 0.5, but not quite according to the sizing chart. You order the Fit Kit for 0.5 and EasyCare will send you shells in sizes 1 – 0.5 – 0. You can spend a happy session with your horse pushing shells on, walking him around, taking them off and repeating the performance with the other sizes until you are satisfied with what size boot you think is the best fit.*
* this is often not the size you think it’s going to be. Case in point, none of the Glove sizes were close to fitting my pony, Jackit’s, feet on paper, but in reality once I figured out the right size, his boots don’t seem to go anywhere.
To give you an idea of what I was working with – I have small hands. I was fairly convinced that no Glove size would work for him, but it turns out 00.5 and 00s fit him fine.
You get to keep the Fit Kit for 30 days because everyone knows the second a horse item arrives on the premises, it guarantees instant horrendous weather/sickness in human operator/sudden unexpected business travel.
Unfortunately, not living in the US, my friend doesn’t have access to fit kits, so she had (hopefully) the correct size Gloves shipped to my house, and I also sent her home with a couple of old boots the next size up ‘just in case’.
She was ready to move on to the next stages – basic trimming and boot fit.
(Continued next week)
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California