Are boots worth the cost/Why would you use them?
I'm talking the boots you actually put on the hoof for riding. If you use them what kind would you recommend?
These boots are supposed to be used when your horse throws a shoe and you're riding rough terrain, like trails that are rocky. There are not a substitute for shoeing your horse, and, though you could trail ride with them, you will wear them out. I own a very old set of rubber "easy boots", which was their name at the time. I've only used them once when my QH with shelly feet through a front shoe and we were trail riding in the Black Hills, SD. We called a local farrier and replaced the shoe, and the easy boots went back into storage in the trailer.
I've corresponded with a lady who rides in the mountains and her preference is the Renegades. Look for boots that ask for both length and width. Easycare Inc. has an excellent website showing various styles, some which accommodate a narrower hoof. Some have to be watched for rubbing altho there's an "anklet" available to eliminate that. Some will give better mileage than others. If your horse is quite sensitive on gravel or rocks the boots can help and are often needed only on the fronts.
Can a horse that is kept barefoot wear them while trail riding to prevent rocks, debris from getting in there? Or is it just for shoed horses?
My QH gelding is barefoot and if the terrain is rocky, he gets to wear his Easyboots.
That depends. There are a handful of horses--the only ones I've heard of are retrained Mustangs, but some Arabians, as well and some mules--whose hooves are SO TOUGH that shoeing is a waste of money. Otherwise the shoes are meant to keep the hoof from wearing down. You farrier can shoe with a rubber pad across the frog that will prevent a tender frog from making contact with gravel or rocks. Even where I live, In Central Illinois, which is basically a drained swamp!!, my horses can pick up the occasional rock during turnout, so it can happen on any trail ride. You just stop and clean out the rock. Make sure you pack a hoof pick on all of your rides. =D I prefer a brass folding pick that I also put a key ring on.
I used to have a couple of horses who hating walking barefoot on gravel at home, but were just fine with regular horse shoes when we rode them in the Black Hills or in Colorado. There is no rubbing on the pastern with a horse shoe. Sometimes, IMHO, manufacturers convince us that their product is indispensible, even though most people don't use it regularly. That is my opinion of easyboots and others. I own them for emergency purposes. Otherwise I ask my farrier lots of questions and go with his recommendations. =D
The boots are way way way cheaper than shoeing! I have two horses. One is a replacement for a horse I had to rehome due to anhydrosis. (non sweating and trail riding are not a good match) He had some feet issues - slight clubby right foot, high heel and thin walls. He was a former race horse. I spent a FORTUNE shoeing him. He would pull shoes constantly. Every time he was shod it cost a minimum of $65 and as high as $100 plus the cost to haul him to Texas A & M for a special farrier. At the same time it cost $35 to have hubby's horse trimmed. So no matter what, I was spending $100 every 5 weeks on their feet.
New horse's feet had been lopped off when I first got him, tender footed to say the least. Had some old abscesses that were from the center of the foot. I have been barefoot trimming him and putting boots on to keep the hooves from cracking. They are almost totally grown out and I only use the boots in real rocky areas.
Farrier sometimes still does Sarge's feet if I don't have the time. Cost is still $35. I do Biscuit's feet myself.
So in a year I have spent about $140 on Sarge's feet as I have done them at times.
Easy Boot Gloves cost around $130 and last a long time especially if they aren't wearing them constantly or on a very rocky area.
The EBG pay for themselves in 4 shoeing cycles so I think they are a bargin. I did buy Sarge a pair for a ride we made in Central Texas where it is rocky as all get out. The boots have saved a ride on our horses several times and two months ago, saved my cousin's ride when her husband's horse was freshly trimmed and very tenderfooted.
For me - the boots save me money and keep my horse in a more natural state. I prefer not to have shoes on them....and use the EBG when it is rocky or if they are tender for whatever reason.
Hoof boots like Boa's cavellos, and various easy boots, ARE made to replace shoeing. The are used on barefoot horses all the time. You keep your horse bare foot and just put the boots on when you are riding usually on rough or rocky terrain, Barefoot horses feet toughen up and usually do ok on dirt trails. They dont wear out quicker, and they arnt more expensive. Many people and horses do just fine with front boots only. Most run right at $100 a pair. Casual weekend trail riding say 3 or four times a month on the weekends and they will easily last a couple years. The brand/ style you pick will depend on the size and shape of your horses foot. Some are round some some are a bit longer. Study the size charts. It is a choice. I have friends that use them exclusively. I still shoe all the way around because I am more lazy than I am cheap and do more short rides during the week, I also subscribe to the if it aint broke dont fix it. My horse has been fine all year with shoes.They do take some time to put on. And seems like I was always stressing over them falling off. Even though I dont think my friends cavalos have ever come off. My easy boots came off once but I went to the next tighter position and they have been fine.
Horse feet grow ~.5" a month and a wild horse typically covers ~20 miles a day. If your horse has tough feet it takes a lot to wear them out. So long as your horse is sound with good feet all you'll need is boots for harder areas. If those two conditions don't exist with your horse, I would shoe.
Boots (easy / Renegade / whatever) can be great as an alternative to shoeing a horse. Case in point. Easy boot sponsors a number of excellent endurance riders who barefoot trim and use the boots full time for competition rides.
But notice that I said "Can" there are still a number of variables that you'll have to address.
Fit is a problem with many types of boots. They are made to fit tight tight tight around the hoof so that they won't come off in mud etc. So... a boot that fits perfectly with a fresh trim may not work so well 4 weeks later.
Also you need to consider how much you'll be riding in the boots and over what type of terrain. Rocky ground will wear down a boot quicker than clay and rubber does wear out quicker than steel.
I went with boots for a time because I like to trim my horses myself and I could keep the fit the way I wanted it. I did end up going back to traditional steel shoes though as I found that I was wearing the boots out (it's pretty rocky where I ride) faster than I would a set of shoes. Going back to steel was an economics exercise for me.
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