Frequently Asked Questions
Hoof boots simply are removable hoof protection. Hoof boots are utilized by a horse owner or trainer as part of the tack. They are used on an as-needed basis, allowing the horse to go barefoot when not being ridden or when the footing is more favourable. When needed for therapy, boots are utilized any time the horse is foot sore or on hard terrain.
Protection: Hoof boots offer excellent protection for thin soles and weakened or inflamed internal structures.
Support: Boots offer more shock absorption capabilities than metal shoes, generally offering superior support for the underside of the hoof.
Adaptability: Various padding options can be used depending on the horse’s needs.
Prevention: The whole horse is connected. When the hooves are sore, the horse may compensate and tense up resulting in tight muscles, torn ligaments, etc. Hoof boots provide increased comfort, and therefore improve posture and stride, thereby minimizing these risks.
Cost Effectiveness: Hoof boots, as an alternative to shoes, are more cost effective. For example, the typical cost of shoeing a horse every six weeks at a cost in the range of $120 to $250 is $1040-$2150/year. By contrast, the average cost of a pair of hoof boots at $275 with a lifespan of two-three years is $90-$140 per year. Most horse owners will get many more years out of a set of hoof boots!
99% of horses can use hoof boots! There are times though when a hoof boot may not be appropriate:
- When the horse needs 24/7 hoof protection but cannot be checked on a daily basis
- When showing/competing, some organizations do not (yet!) allow hoof protection that touches above the hoof capsule
- When the boot compromises the horse’s gait
- When a different type of protection would be more appropriate
- When the boot increases the break-over causing leverage on the tendons and ligaments
Book a Hoof Boot Fitting with on our our Hoof Care Professionals to learn which hoof boots are best for you, your horse and your application!
Choosing the right hoof boot can be a bit of an art! Take our own feet for example. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get the right fit even though the size of our feet is static (not subject to change). Horse hooves on the other hand, are not static. They are subject to change and have a number of dynamic elements which need to be considered:
- heel height and width
- toe angles
- toe length and height
For these reasons, boot fitting by photos alone can be a little tricky. Since a good fit is imperative to boot success, hiring a boot fitter is the best option. A boot fitter provides sizing shells to physically try on the horse. They also offer advice on which style of boot would work best for your individual situation. A fitter can help with brand considerations, and suggest which accessories might help to achieve the optimal fit.
- Hire a Hoof Care Professional or Hoof Boot Fitter to help you choose the right size, style and brand of boot!
- Check the fit often! Hooves are dynamic in nature which means they respond to their environment and are subject to change. Elements that can affect fit are: time since last trim, level of moisture in the environment, a different style of trimming, increased or decreased lamellar connection (growing out flares or new flares starting). For these reasons, you should check the fit each time you use the boots. Check for debris at the same time as dirt and debris can get jammed inside the toe area and around the heels.
- Follow a 4-week Trim Cycle: Most boot companies recommended a 4-week trim cycle. While every horse grows at a different rate and growth rates can change according to the season, a 4- week cycle is the best practice.
Prevent Thrush: If you are using boots for therapy or for longer periods of time, you should apply anti-fungal/anti-bacterial products. The horse’s frog has a sweat gland and the horn material itself holds moisture in it so even in a dry external environment, it is possible for thrush to grow inside the boots. We recommend Artimud!
Care for your boots: Clean your boots before storing – the materials of boots can degrade over time if stored dirty. Clean with a mild dish or laundry detergent and allow them to dry fully. If you are considering using any chemical products to clean, change the appearance of, or alter the fit of the boots, it is always best to check in with the manufacturer of the boots.
- Troubleshoot: When the boots aren’t working, reach out for help from Hoof Help Canada! Boots are so much healthier overall than steel shoes and it’s worth the effort to troubleshoot. Sometimes just adding a thicker pad or a shim or pastern wrap can make all the difference. We are here to help! Whether you purchased your boots from us, or from someone else, we are here for you and your horse!
If you are using boots for therapy or for longer periods of time, you should apply anti-fungal/anti-bacterial products. The horse’s frog has a sweat gland and the horn material itself holds moisture in it so even in a dry external environment, it is possible for thrush to grow inside the boots. We recommend Artimud!
If the horse is being ridden or turned out on ice, it is best to install ice studs into the soles of the boots. More aggressive studs may be needed if the horse is being galloped or jumped on wet grass or deep mud.
- Use a standard measuring tape, ruler or sewing tape. Millimeters as a unit of measure provides greater accuracy than inches.
- Measure the width of the hoof on the underside at the widest part across, medio-laterally or side to side.
- Measure the length of the hoof dorso-ventrally or front to back, starting at the toe and ending at the heel buttress. The frog is not included in the measurement.
- Take photographs of the hoof from the front (dorsal view) and from the side (lateral view) using a “mouse eye view”. This view means putting the camera lens at about the height of a mouse’s eye. This view ensures the least amount of perspective distortion. The dorsal or front view should be taken as perpendicular with the leg as possible, with the camera or phone upright (not leaning) and aiming at the coronary band. The lateral or side view should be taken with the phone or camera straight (not leaning) and parallel to the hoof with focus aiming at the coronary band.
- Contact a fitter. A fitter will use the dorsal and lateral photographs to determine how much distortion there is to the hoof capsule. Distortions include underrun or low heels, tall heels, excessive toe length, flares, and short or tall hoof capsules. Each of these distortions is taken into consideration in sizing shell selection and hoof boot brand recommendations. You can book a fitting with a Hoof Care Professional here: Book a fitting
We have a variety of resources and educational material available in our Resource Library to learn more about hoof care, hoof health, trimming, nutrition and anatomy. Or, if you want something more in depth, the Hoof Health Online Level 1 is a course with 16 lessons, 16 quizzes and over 250 topics that provides an introduction to the various aspects of hoof health.
Yes, we do! View our full policy here: Refund & Exchange Policy
Each manufacturer has a unique warranty policy. Check out our warranty policy information here: Warranty Policy
Hoof Help Canada offers payment plans and subsidies to families and horses in need. Please contact us for more information.
Yes! We work with Equine Rescues and Sanctuaries across Canada, as well as a variety of equines in need, who would very much appreciate your donated hoof boots!