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how to choose hoof boot style

(last updated June 2016)


introduction

The number of hoof boots on the market has increased dramatically over the last few years.  As each type of hoof boot generally fits a slightly different shape and/or size of hoof, you should therefore be able to find a good boot that is suited to your horse. You may not end up with the hoof boot you had hoped for, but it is much more important to choose a boot that fits your horse. With a well fitted hoof boot, you can forget about it once it’s on; a badly fitted hoof boot will cause no end of trouble, you will wish you had never bought it.

Once you have your measurements, look through the information below for our recommendations of the best hoof boots to consider for your horses’ shape. You boot the horses’ feet as pairs, and as the front feet are usually a different shape from the hinds, you will find one style and size of boot will fit the front feet and often a different style and size will suit the hinds.

If your horse does not seem to match any of the descriptions below, or if his hooves are a mix of shapes/sizes, look at as many hoof boots as possible to find the ones that most closely fit his shape and measurements. It is not uncommon for horses’ front hooves to have slightly different measurements from each other, but in the majority of cases, the same size of hoof boot will accommodate both sets of measurements. Sometimes, however, it may be necessary to have two different sizes of the same style of hoof boot to create your ‘pair’.

Ideally, the length and width measurement will fit into the same size. If the width is in one size, and the length in a size up or down, you may need to select the larger size or look at a different type of hoof boot. Some boots are more generously sized than others, so there are instances where you can exceed the measurements given on a size chart for a particular boot, but generally only the width and not the length. The individual product descriptions for each boot type will advise in more detail on how to use the size chart for that particular boot. If the width and length measurements are different by more than one size, that particular hoof boot isn’t going to be the best boot for your horse, and you should look at a different hoof boot. Another style may accommodate your horse’s hoof shape better.


1. The round hoof or nearly round hoof

 (hoof length less than 5mm shorter or longer than width measurement).

This is one of the most common front hoof shapes found in horses kept in the UK. Front feet are designed to bear approximately 60% of the horses weight, which produces a slightly larger, rounder weight-bearing surface than hind feet, which tend to be more concave and shovel-shaped in appearance. It is important to try and get as close a width fitting, and the shortest break over, possible.

Best boots for this shape – for everyday riding: Renegade Classic and Viper Hoof Boots (can be cut-back to shorten length if necessary), Glove Wide, Back Country Wide, Cavallo Trek Regular Sole or the Scoot Boot. The Equine Fusion range, the Easyboot Transition, the New Trail or New Mac can also work well, if the hoof is slightly longer than it is wide.

Best boots for this shape – for endurance/competition use: Renegade Classic and Viper Hoof Boots, Glove Wide, Back Country Wide (2016 model), Scoot Boot, Equine Fusion range (if suited to hoof shape). The other boot models suggested above could work perfectly well, if they offer the best fit for the horse.

A hoof measuring 140mm width x 140mm length, for example, would fit nicely into a New Mac size 7 as the width would be a close fit with only 5mm excess toe length. Although the New Trail is the same sizing, it may be sensible to go for the New Mac as it has the added inner strap for extra boot security, which is preferable if there is any excess boot length. The hoof would also fit a Glove Wide or Backcountry Wide size 3W as the length and width measurements both fall within that size (138-141mm width, and 138-141 length) and this boot shape may suit the hoof better than the New Mac. This example hoof may also fit a Renegade Hoof Boot size 2WW (140mm width, and 140mm length) but as it is right at the top end of the measurements suitable for that boot, the boot may fit perfectly straight after a trim but it may become tighter as the hoof grows in between trims - it would then be necessary to increase the trim frequency to retain a good fit. The Renegade Viper in the largest size, 140x140, may look to be a good option on paper but it would be too tight for the hoof. The Scoot Boot should work well for this hoof size and shape but it may be sensible to try the Scoot Boot Fitting Shells first - the hoof may fit nicely into a size 6, as you can often go a little over the maximum measurements on the size chart, but you may find you need the size 7. The Fitting Shells allow you to size the boots properly, without having to worry about keeping them clean or unmarked. The Cavallo Trek in size 4 Regular Sole would also look to offer a really good match for this hoof. So, lots of options and then you can narrow the boot selection down by taking into account your personal preferences and requirements.


2. The wider than long hoof

 (hoof more than 5mm wider than it is long)

The wider than long hoof is a common front foot shape amongst breeds such as the Draught or Thoroughbred. However, most modern hoof boots do not fit this shape well, as it is a more unusual shape. If the horse has measurements giving the width at more than 5mm greater than the length, the only suitable hoof boots are going to be the Renegade Classic or Renegade Viper Hoof Boots (as Renegades can either be cut-back/shortened in length to match the horse, or a custom size created if necessary); the Back Country Wide, if the difference in width and length is, say, less than 10mm; the Cavallo Trek Regular Sole or the Scoot Boot. The Equine Fusion boots can sometimes work, as long as the length measurement is fairly near the top end of the length measurement for the particular size of boot, and as long as the width is no more than about 6 or 7mm wider than the max recommended width, although this will put extra strain on the boot. Any other hoof boot will have excessive toe length, which slows the horses break over and potentially causes a higher incidence of boot loss through overreaching and treading the boot off.

For example, a horse with 139mm width x 128mm length, would need either a size 2WW Renegade cut-back (to 130mm) and this should be a good option, possibly a Scoot Boot size 5 (this width should be accommodated by the boot but it would be sensible to try the Scoot Boot Fitting Shells first to be sure), or possibly the Cavallo Trek size 3 Regular Sole (you can often go a few mm over the maximum width on the size chart for this style of boot, which would then look to offer a good fit on the length as not too much excess boot. The size 4 Cavallo Trek Regular Sole would likely be too long).

Best boots for this shape – for everyday riding: Renegade Classic or Renegade Viper Hoof Boots, Scoot Boot, Cavallo Trek Regular Sole, possibly Back Country Wide (or Glove Wide, if you can squeeze the width into the boot and match the length). Possibly the Equine Fusion, depending on the measurements.

Best boots for this shape – for endurance/competition use: Renegade Classic or Renegade Viper Hoof Boot, Scoot Boot, possibly Glove (see above).


3. The longer than wide hoof

 (hoof approx 6mm – 15mm longer than width measurement).

The less extreme end of the scale is generally a relatively easy hoof to cater for. A number of boots are designed for this shape of hoof, namely the Renegade, Equine Fusion range, Back Country, Glove, Transition, New Trail, New Mac, Cavallo Trek Slim Sole and Easyboot Epic. Scoot Boot, as long as the difference is no more than 10mm.

Best boots for this shape – for everyday riding: Any of the boots discussed here.

Best boots for this shape – for endurance/competition use: Renegade, Glove, Equine Fusion, possibly Scoot.

A hoof that is 129mm width x 139 mm length, for example, would fit a Renegade size 2W well, or a Back Country in size 3, or an Easyboot Epic in size 2. The Renegade Viper in size 140x130 would look to be a good option but you need to allow some spare room between the hoof measurements and the boot sizing and so they will be too tight. The New Trail or New Mac in size 6 and the Equine Fusion in size 14 Slim would also be options. The Transition in size 3 would look to be an option on paper but these boots are quite small on sizing and so they would likely be too tight on the length. Conversely, the Cavallo Trek size 4 Slim Sole would also look to be a good option on paper, but these boots are quite generous on size and so this size will probably be too wide. Again it is important to get as tight a width fitting as possible, and can be especially important with hind feet as a lot of horses have a tendency to screw their hind feet slightly which can cause the boots to twist in use if the boot is not gripping the hoof sufficiently well.


4. The excessively longer than wide hoof

 (hoof 16mm + longer than width measurement)

Some more extreme hind feet and occasionally the front feet of a navicular, laminitic or neglected hoof can be very much longer than wide. Once the measurements become more extreme, a compromise is often required. The Equne Fusion boots are often the best option, in the Slim fit, as the most important measurement for these boots are the length measurement. Often the Easyboot Epic is another good option, as long as the length is near the top-end of the length for the particular size of boot. You can then use a thick pad inside the boot and tighten up the wires to help tighten the fit on the width (you can sometimes go down one size in the cable to create a tighter fit). The New Mac is another option, using inserts (and possibly a gaiter and pads) to take up the excess width and keep the boot in place. A hoof width 129mm x 154mm length for example would need an Equine Fusion Ultimate or All Terrain in size 15 Slim, or a size 9 New Mac with inserts (even though the width is really better suited to a size 5). You should find these options would work, but you may find that with a narrow chested pony or small horse, the boots will be too wide for the horse to cope with and will potentially brush or knock themselves. Another option would be to consider modifying a pair of Easyboot Epics.

Sometimes the measurements will appear to be much longer than wide, but this can be due to measuring too far back at the heel. The width is much easier to judge than the length, and often too much length is allowed in the measurements. It is therefore important to look at our guide "How to measure for hoof boots" first.

Best boots for this shape – for everyday riding: Equine Fusion Ultimate or All Terrain in the Slim fit, Easyboot Epics, possibly the New Mac.

Best boots for this shape – for endurance/competition use: None recommended.

 

Quick Summary:

  1. 1. Take accurate measurements and choose a hoof boot that fit’s the shape and size of your horses feet, not just the one you like the look of! This is the most important rule for successful booting of barefoot horses.

  2. 2. If you have to compromise with sizes, try to make sure the width is as tight as possible (but within the measurement guide) to grip the hoof, and keep the break over as short as possible.

  3. 3. Don’t choose a boot that is just too short and hope it will be OK, it is almost certain to give your horse sore heels!

  4. 4. Every hoof boot has its merits, but it will not perform well if it is the wrong size/shape or incorrectly fitted. If you have problems, re-check your measurements, the size chart of the boot and the settings it is being used on, to make sure it really is the best one for your horses’ foot shape and size. If in doubt, please do not hesitate to contact us direct for assistance and advice (please have your horses’ measurements in mm after a fresh trim to hand, along with the size and style boot you are using. We may also ask you to e-mail us some photos).