steel shoes vs boots

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steel shoes vs boots

This is a discussion on steel shoes vs boots within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Horse boot with metal shoe
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    07-12-2010, 02:53 PM
steel shoes vs boots

I have a young mare, she's three and a half and has never been shod. She's an egyptian arab with feet made of rocks lol.

A friend of mine (and the girl at my barn) ride their horses barefoot and put shoes over top.

My endurance friend rides her mare in easyboot gloves, then at races uses glue on shoes. I would love to eventually start endurance with my mare, once she is old enough.

Right now I am leaning towards booting my horse. We live in south eastern PA and where I ride it is rocky and muddy in the winter time.

What do you guys think? I think the boots (in the long run) are cheaper... but some would argue otherwise.

Does anyone have any suggestions on boots to use?

Can anyone tell me the pros/cons of both?
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    07-12-2010, 03:26 PM
I vote you let your mare's hooves decide once you put her in training.
    07-12-2010, 07:59 PM
Green Broke
Boots are good for horses that need extra protection, are soft footed & don't get ridden that often. I have an arab mare with "hooves of rock" as well & I do alot of road, highway, trail & mountain riding & she never needs shoes. I put them on her last summer because a group of friends & I went up for a camp trip in the mountains & there were 2 from the group wearing boots & they had nothing but trouble.
Boots are great, but they aren't good for really rocky/muddy terrain as even if they're fitted tight/the horse's hooves are wrapped in vetwrap first, they rip off easily, especially in mud. The one gelding actually broke all 4 of his boots & had to be shod half way through the trip.
    07-12-2010, 08:12 PM
If her hooves are tough as is, why do you want to have her shod?
    07-12-2010, 08:51 PM

I'd vote boots when extra protection/support is needed *almost* every time, especially with a young horse who's feet won't have finished developing yet.

But educating yourself is the key, rather than just choosing between conflicting opinions without good reason. is another good site and also has a section about when conventional shoes may be appropriate too.

There is far more to creating/keeping healthy strong feet than just the question of whether to shoe or not. The below links will also get you well under way.
    07-12-2010, 08:55 PM
I agree with the other comments about just staying barefoot and not doing anything unless your mare needs it.
The biggest problem I've seen with boots is that the fit is very dependent on the shape of the hoof and all the brands fit a little differently. If you get a good fit they work very well, but if not, you'll have constant problems with boots coming off or rubbing/sores at/above the band.
    07-12-2010, 09:12 PM
I have to say boots...Renegades are the best on the market right now (but pricey)and also Old Macs. Quick story: I took one of my friends out riding about a week ago...her horse has shoes...mine was barefoot in the rear and Old Macs in the front. We went through some very rocky areas (river beds/slate shale slopes). Her horse was constantly slipping on the rocks....mine did not have an issue. That being said...if you are going to go barefoot...make sure to condtion her hooves ....ex. Try Biotin as a supplement, it helps to strenghten from the inside out. Over flow your water a couple times a week and place pea gravel in front of her water trough, so that she has to stand or move through it. It will help to toughen her feet. When you get her out on the trail, be fair to her...start washes with sand(if you have them)and gradually move up(over the period of about 1 year) into harder terrain. Find yourself a good certified "barefoot" trimmer...not all farriers do the mustang roll! Don't give up.....if she has hard feet the best way to ruin 'em is to put shoes on 'em....Good Luck!!!
    07-12-2010, 09:20 PM
OOppps! On a side note...I will tell you that is you ride with boots in mud or deep water they will get sucked off. I know this from personal experience. I cannot however tell you about snow or ice ...we just don't have that much of it out here in the desert. :O) It does take about a year to get the foot where they do well in the harder terrain. Mostly my mare only wears her boots when we are in extremly rocky terrain...for everyday....she's usally barefoot. Not all horses can go barefoot...but its worth a try if her feet are as hard as you say.
    07-12-2010, 11:18 PM
Originally Posted by GypseCowgirl    
OOppps! On a side note...I will tell you that is you ride with boots in mud or deep water they will get sucked off. I know this from personal experience.
IME Nothing will pull off Old Macs, and Easyboots come off easily(unless you're trying) unless they have gaiters(such as Epics), in which case even in deep mud I've never had a prob with losing them. But my experience of slippery mud is that boots have very little grip generally. The last trip I did to an area with lots of slippery clay was a disaster! We couldn't do more than a careful, pottery walk and even then there was lots of slipping & I chose to walk beside my horse half the time.... tho I remember hooning around those tracks in winter years ago on shod horses. I have considered trying studs in boots, but haven't done it yet.
    07-12-2010, 11:59 PM
I hear the stud work great...but like I said no/very little ice and snow out here. Loosie what is IME?

barefoot, boot, easyboot, shoes, steel

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