When walking on gravel my mare walks almost as if a person would when barefoot. Sometimes when stepping onto the gravel she almost falls down. She's caught onto the reason on why this hurts and walks very carefully so I just take it slow with her. She's fine 90% of the time once we reach grass, dirt or concrete. The other 10% she's fine once I've picked out her hooves.
My previous horse had the same problem as she did. We shod him in the front with pads and some sort of gel and it made it 100% better.
That your barefoot horse is tender over gravel is not an uncommon problem. That she is fine only 90% of the time over grass, dirt or concrete is more concerning and bears closer scrutiny.
While it's tempting to compare solutions that worked for your prior horse (shoes/pads/pour-in) it's better to evaluate each animal for it's own unique needs.
I was wondering if we should shoe her and put pads on or get hoof boots. And if I do choose hoof boots, what type would be best?
The most important consideration for most owners when deciding between boots or shoes ultimately becomes the maintenance and costs involved.
Boots are comparatively high maintenance and something you must tend to every time you ride. Shoes are something your farrier does once and you're good for 5 to 8 weeks.
I've had a number of clients opt for boots in an effort to reduce their total, annual cost of hoof care. Nothing wrong with that but in my experience, most of those owners soon left their boots sitting on a barn shelf, gathering dust and had returned to standard horseshoes.
This proved particularly true for those whose riding occurred in short bursts with high weekly frequency (e.g. Arena work, training, show prep, etc).
Trail riders who engage in weekend long trips were more likely to stick with the boots.
Cost is a valid factor in the decision. Hoof boots can reduce your annual farrier costs by 50% or more.
I really have no experience with hoof boots as I've never used them or even known someone who has. When would I put them on? How do I put them on? We'd mostly be doing arena work but do plan to go on the occaisional trail ride / ride around the property which would involve walking on gravel.
You'll put boots on every time you are riding over terrain that necessitates them. You'll also have to remove them shortly thereafter as most manufacturers suggest that boots should not be worn more than 24 hours at a time. You'll also want to clean them up after each use.
Also, she's going to get her feet done soon with a new farrier. I can ask the farrier what she thinks and see if she has any suggestions.
If your "farrier" is a barefoot trimmer, the only options she will be able to offer are a a trim and/or boots. If she is a full service farrier, she can more objectively offer you a wider selection of options and deliver on what best meets the needs of your horse and your intended use of that horse.
Thank you in advanced.