Shoes vs Boots
My new lease horse is a little flat footed, mostly in the back. The owner has recommended getting him shod as he does get the occasional stone bruising. You can see that he is a bit tender when walking on loose gravel, too. I'm more than happy to have him shod, but I know from the past that he does have a tendency to throw shoes.
Which brings me to my question. In his case, when I will be doing quite a bit of riding on roads, I wonder if hoof boots wouldn't be a better and more cost effective option.
If it was my new horse, I would make sure I had a good farrier, get his opinion, and see how the horse does barefoot for myself before jumping into boots or shoes.
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Boots are only cost effective if you happen to buy the exact right size the first time. If not, you'll spend hundreds trying every different boot on the market.
If you already know he gets tenders on some surfaces, best to just give him the protection of shoes assuming you have a farrier who knows what he's doing. Mention the pulled shoe problem to him/her and see what they recommend. I use bell boots on my horse's fronts so he doesn't step off a shoe when he's out being a goofball.
It also depends on what you are doing with him. Boots dont work well for some events. For a lease horse, Id be more inclined to shoe if I wasnt familiar with boots just for reasons Puck mentioned. If I was familier with boots, They can be bought reasonable and cheap used from some of the used boot listings on Facebook and Yahoo.
Also, Im not a big fan or booting back feet. Id probably shoe them personally.
If he has thin, flat soles, shoes won't help him, but they will allow you to ride him where you want. He will need pads too to protect his soles if shod. Alternately, boots will actually protect his feet where/when necessary, he can be bare the rest of the time. :wink:
The others are right that boots aren't suitable for everything or every horse & depending on the conformation of his feet at the moment, you may need to get them in better shape before sizing him. As far as economics, boots tend to come out better in the long run, assuming the fit is right & they're suitable for what you want. Obviously if the horse has a habit of losing shoes, that's going to get more expensive. They're generally perfectly suitable for road riding, for eg & will also provide more grip than bare(way more than metal shoes) on bitumen & more shock absorbtion.
I might ask a few farriers for their opinions and try to track down some suppliers of boots.. if I can get a 'sample' to try, then that will help with the whole fitting thing.
Yes, you can keep bell boots on a horse 24/7, but make sure you monitor his pasterns daily for the firstt month or so to make sure the bell boots aren't rubbing. I found neoprene bell boots would rub Candy but rubber ones wouldn't.
Candy has thin soles and I recently tried her barefoot and it was a total fail. She has very thick walls so she holds shoes fine (but I had bell boots on her for a while because she does over reach with her hind legs) and she was fine barefoot for the first couple mounths but the last month she has been foot sore and the past week she has been going from dead lame to slightly lame so I am having her front shoes put back on her as soon as possible.
IME, boots come off the back feet twice as much or more depending on how your horse moves so they really have to fit well. It is really a great idea to try to borrow a set or find a farrier/trimmer who is a dealer as they can fit the horse for you and often have used boots to buy and try.
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