Boots vs Shoes? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 05-19-2012, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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Question Boots vs Shoes?

Alrighty, my equstrian brethren, I have a question for you all:

If one is to train for endurance, should I prep my horse with shoes or boots?
A woman I work with says that shoes are better since boots can slip off in mud and can get filled with water that moistens up the hoof wall.
My mom says that boots are better since we don't risk cracking my horse's hoof wall, and we don't have to pay for new shoes.

I'm just very unsure, and I don't know which one would be best. I just want other peoples' opinions, as I understand that most people here are more experienced.

What do you think?
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post #2 of 34 Old 05-19-2012, 04:30 PM
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You will find the forum to be equally divided on this subject. I say it is no contest. Shoes are way better than boots. You will find others with the opposite opinion.

When they wear shoes, their feet are always protected. It doesn't take you a bunch of time to put the boots on. You just saddle up and go. There is no wearing on the fetlock from boots.

The reason that boots are preferred by many people is that the cost of shoes is so great. The way that I look at it, shoes are cheaper. If my horse is sound, then I have something to ride. If I cheap out and don't use shoes, then I have a horse that I can't ride because he is lame or has a chipped hoof.

Now I will get attacked by the barefoot Nazis.

The true question is not whether shoes are better than boots; it is what do the winning competitors do. I suspect they use shoes.

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post #3 of 34 Old 05-19-2012, 04:39 PM
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^ Agreed 100%

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #4 of 34 Old 05-19-2012, 05:13 PM
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I am divided due to lack of knowledge... i personally use boots on my mare, for:
a) yes, the cost
b) ive been told that shoes weaken the hoof wall
c) she has good feet, although small, and just needs the protection they offer her sole on rocky surfaces.

however, I may end up shoeing as a more permanant option... also, it would allow me to put in studs for traction when we do jumping or cross country on grass or slippery ground

So basically I was no help at all :P
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post #5 of 34 Old 05-19-2012, 11:51 PM
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I don't endurance ride, but I do ride 5+ hour trail rides in the mountains.

I use Easyboot Epics. I use them because I think my horses feet are healthier barefoot. No contraction, overgrown hooves or crappy farriers to worry about. (Not saying all farriers are crappy of course, I learned from farriers and used to shoe my horses myself). But some of the farriers I've used have done a crappy job. And I have enough knowledge to realize when they have done a crappy job!

I have never lost a boot in the mud and I feel they give BETTER traction over solid rocks and pavement. (Loose gravel not so much though.) And you are actually less likely to get stone bruises because the entire sole is covered. I've never had heel rubs in the Epics either.

To me it comes down to the effort the owner wants to put in. You have to decide if the benefit of boots outweigh the labor involved in fooling around with taking them on and off. I have a friend whose horses are shod. She just gets on and rides and never worries about feet. Unless she looses a shoe. They she is stuck waiting for the farrier. I never have to worry about that.

On the other hand, I have to decide at the beginning of a ride whether I want to boot my horse or not based on the terrain. Some rides we go completely barefoot. Some rides I boot before the ride if I know the terrain is rocky. Some rides I carry the boots with me and put them on if I think we are encountering too many rocks. It can be a pain in the butt sometimes I must admit! But I normally only have to boot the fronts. And some rides we don't have to boot at all. And my friends are patient if I need to take a break to put on the boots.

It works out well for me because I do my own trimming and just totally take care of their feet myself. I look at boots like my own tennis shoes. When I am at home (or the horse is at home) we can go barefoot. If the terrain is fair, the horse can go barefoot. But my horse will be riding in rocks for a prolonged period I put his tennis shoes on.

Many endurance riders DO use boots. Mostly glue-ons (like the Easyboot shells without the "gaiters." ) Go to Easycare's website and you can learn more about that.

Mainly it is labor intensive. Shoes are easy. The farrier does all the work. But some people feel the benefits of boots outweigh the hassle. To me the main benefit is keeping my horses barefoot 99% of the time to keep their hooves well maintained and healthy.....which fortunately I am able to do myself. But I admit shoes are easier and if I had to boot all four feet everytime I rode I would probably go back to shoes. If I had to hire a farrier for trims I would probably go back to shoes. But I DO know my horses have wider, less contracted feet barefoot.

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with shoes. But I do think there are a lot of owners that don't know their farrier is less-than-great. But if you don't want to hassle with boots (and it does take a patient person) then shoes would be the way to go.

Last edited by trailhorserider; 05-19-2012 at 11:54 PM.
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post #6 of 34 Old 05-20-2012, 09:14 AM
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I agree that you can do it either way. I just don't want to do the labor intensive boots. I can take that same effort and put it into my work, take the money, and pay the farrier.

I do think that the newer boots are probably a lot better than the ones that I tried years ago.

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post #7 of 34 Old 05-20-2012, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Celeste View Post
The reason that boots are preferred by many people is that the cost of shoes is so great. The way that I look at it, shoes are cheaper. If my horse is sound, then I have something to ride. If I cheap out and don't use shoes, then I have a horse that I can't ride because he is lame or has a chipped hoof.
Well cost doesn't matter to me; I chose boots because my horse is doing fabulous barefoot. Though in the 2 months I had been gone at the time he was neglected and his feet got really bad with trimmings, thrush, and he even abscessed. I think putting on a shoe for that case wouldn't have been the best thing. With boots, we can treat it directly and protect when ridden.

Now if all that clears up and the farrier thinks we should get shoes, then I'd do what's best for my horse.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #8 of 34 Old 05-20-2012, 10:23 AM
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For the feet a boot is better. It allows the hoof to expand on impact so it's not constricted. You'll have a healthier foot. You also don't have the hoof being degraded by nails, so it will be more sound.

Of course my experience has been that the year I spend getting the hoof hard enough to not need a boot has served me best, but not everyone is going to do that, so boots are the next best thing.
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post #9 of 34 Old 05-20-2012, 01:12 PM
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As a veterinarian, I have seen problems with both ideas.

Shoes can cause contracted heels if they are left on too long.
If shoes are put on at a bad angle, then they can promote navicular lameness.
Either using a bad farrier or leaving the shoes on too long between resets causes a lot of problems.

Barefoot horses can get bruises, abscesses, splits, and excessive wear.

For my horses, in my environment, shoes work best. I have rocks that damage hooves even out in the pasture. Riding barefoot tears their feet up. I'm sure boots would help, but they are also a lot of trouble.

If I lived 25 miles south of here where all the area is sand with no rocks, I would save my shoe money and use it to treat all the sand colics............

I think that there are multiple decisions that we can make and they can be correct. I have a great farrier that does a great job shoeing my horses.
If my farrier were to retire, I might consider other options.

My husband saw me pay the farrier Friday and I thought he was going to faint............
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post #10 of 34 Old 05-20-2012, 04:37 PM
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I think it's going to depend on the horse too. My mom had an appendix mare named Annie, and Annie couldn't walk over a slightly indented blade of grass barefoot without going lame...She had to have shoes with pads 100% of the time.

However, Rebel has rock hard feet. He can go over the rockiest terrain barefoot withut getting sore if I asked him (Though I normally don't ask him). He did an endurance ride last summer totally barefoot, and the only horse in the race who was.

Selena gets slightly sore without shoes and HATES boots. We tried our set on her once and she pitched herself a fit. Plus we are riding her strictly in the arena. She gets shoes.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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