Hoof Boots are just one potential intervention to help create and maintain healthy hoof ideals and posture in horses.
Used appropriately, hoof boots can help support a shoeless horse and can help prevent wear, promote healthy tissues and structures, protect vulnerable tissues and structures and help treat infection. They can also be used to contain pads which can act as orthoses.
We use a variety of pads and hoof boots. Our favourite pads are the versatile 7mm NORA insert used as an insole in human diabetic footwear. They offer great support for the majority of horses and situations. Our favourite hoof boots are Flex Boots and Scoot Boots.
We recommend anyone considering hoof boots with or without pads to seeks appropriate advice from an integrative hoof expert, especially if using raised pads. We offer Hoof Boot Consultations which provides an opportunity to try 3 different shell fitting kits (East Boot Gloves, Flex Hoof Boots and Scoot Hoof Boots).
Flex Hoof Boot
Scoot Hoof Boot
How to make custom hoof boot pads
A. Create a template from your hoof boots:
1. Place the boot on the paper and draw around the base of the hoof boot and cut out
2. Place the template into the hoof boot and bend the edges of the excess paper template to match exactly the inside of the hoof boot
3. If you like, using a pen to mark the outline of the template and trim the template
4. Check this fits neatly into the hoof boot.
B. Cut the pad to size to fit perfectly the inside of that particular boot being used.
Note: If using 7MM Nora, the white part goes into the boot first and the dark cream faces up.
1. Place the template on the pad. Draw around the front half of the template and when drawing around the sides and rear of the pad, allow excess material for the areas where the boots flares and to accommodate the internal shape of the boot. Remember – the pad needs to fit tight into the base if the boot.
2. Cut out the pad – it is better to cut it too large than too small!
3. Bevel the pad to fit snugly into the boot.
4. Place the pad inside the boot and check it fits and try the boot on the horse.
C. Steps to create a raised 2 degree pad using 2 degree leather pad and 7mm Nora top insole:
1. Follow the steps above and prepare both pads using the template. The rough edge of the leather pad goes face down into the boot and place the template at the very back of the leather pad where it is the thickest and in the centre so the angle is correct.
2. Once you are happy they fit well, score the leather to allow for optimum adhesion and glue together using appropriate glue (eg: https://www.algeos.com/renia_protocolle_flexible_glue__50g.html) You might wish to finish the bevel with a Dremel or other sanding tool once the glue has set so you get a nice smooth finish.
Note: If sanding or grinding to finish, always wear protective equipment such as dust mask and safety glasses
Additional tips and info on use of boots/ pads in general
· There are many types of pads for boots – ask a hoof expert for advice if you are not sure what to use or why
· A snugly fitted pad can help to prevent the pads from twisting
· Well fitted pads can improve the boot fit in some instances
· When the horse stands in the boot with the pads fitted, the pad will expand and this can help the boots fit better.
· Ensure the hoof is placed at the toe of the boot for optimum fit – sometime standing in the boots followed by a walk around to create a good impression in the pad helps the boot fit
· Some very tightly fitted boots might not accommodate a thicker pad
· Some horses prefer the frog to be relieved – too much frog pressure created by a pad can cause bruising or deterioration of the frog. Horse with inappropriate vertical height to the hoof capsule, broken back HOA and low palmar or plantar P3 angles need to be considered for this
· Just like buying a new pair of shoes for yourself you need to check the fit and comfort of the boot regularly as badly fitting boots (in horses or in humans) can create discomfort
· Boots and pads can be used for extended periods of time, however ALL boots should be removed at least once per day to allow the hoof to dry and inspect the hoof and boot for rubs or damage
· Using a boot outside of the manufacturers or sellers recommendations, including using pads, the environment in which the boots are used, how they are used and for how long, might invalidate the boots warranty
· Never turn out in boots in deep mud and very wet conditions
· Always make sure boots and pads are dry before use
· Make sure the hoof and pastern is dry before use
· Clean boots and pads as often as needed, and at least weekly. You might like to use EM soap, followed by a spray with Pure Green 24, especially if using neoprene gaiters
· Inspect horses and boots at least daily for correct fit and signs of damage
We recommend hooves are treated daily to help prevent infection and this is particularly relevant when using hoof boots for extended periods of time as moisture levels can encourage surface infection. This protocol can be followed daily to help prevent or to treat active surface infection:
1. Clean the hoof with a stiff brush and if needed, scrub using EM soap and warm water.
2. Spray the entire solar surface and hoof wall, heels and pastern with Pure Green 24 which is non-necrotizing and suitable for frequent use, yet tough on surface bacteria, fungi and virus’. As Pure Green lasts for 24 hours, repeat once per day to help prevent or treat active surface infection effectively.
3. If there there are holes or larger crevices, pack with hoof stuff (optional)
4. Clean trax deep clean hoof treatment can be used weekly where there are more persistent infections or under veterinary guidance
Additional top tips for using flex boots with custom inserts
Mark each boot and place on the same hoof each time – each hoof will create a slightly different impression in the pad
Make sure the insert and pastern gaiter is properly lined up before fitting and tighten according to Flex Hoof boot instructions
Make sure the pastern wrap, boots, and especially the insert and hoof is dry before fitting as moisture can encourage twisting and infection.
When putting the boot on, wiggle it and move the toe of the hoof as far into the boot as possible BEFORE putting on the ground. Then secure well as directed before moving off.
The boots might twist initially but as the hoof beds into the insert it will move less
As the hoof beds into the insert, and the boots bed in and stretch a bit, you may find you need to make the pastern and bottom straps tighter – however do not over tighten
You may also consider different positioning of the bottom strap and make sure the strap is curving downward before fitting.
There are different slots for weaving the pastern strap through the pastern gaiter – see which ones provide a smoother finish and optimum padding for the pastern strap.
Frequent trimming between professional visits, esp the toe bevel may help with ongoing fit of the boots and help restore balance and functionality quicker – I encourage you to talk to your hoof care professional about this and check this at least weekly (depending on the horse and hoof). If you would like to learn how to care for hooves between our professional visits, visit: www.holisticequine.co.uk/events
Flex boots may be used for longer periods of time, almost 24/7 use – depending on the horse and environment and this may help improve balance and function – again, talk to your hoof care professional about this.
Extended periods of use = need for daily hoof treatment and wire brush to help remove exfoliation. PureGreen 24 helps deal with surface anaerobic infection created by moisture and warmth.
Inserts can be used to help improve balance and function if your horse has low palmar/plantar angles. In some horses, they require frog relief – this is sometimes needed where the heels are low in height and the frog is thin and typically wide and flat – again, your hoof care professional can advise on this. If it seems your horse would benefit from this, the frog impression made in the top part of the insert (the pad) can be marked and simply cut out, leaving the leather part of the pad in-tact underneath.
Horses and all living things benefit from grounding or earthing so if you wish to use the boots for extended use, leaving them off for a short period of time and allowing natural contact with the earth can benefit health and well-being. Tarmac does not allow for grounding, but turf, concrete and other surfaces can. Be aware of the abrasiveness of the surface and the impact undesirable wear can have on the hoof balance and function. For more info on this please visit our main CIC site to learn about Grounding/Earthing
Hoof boots, pads and hoof care products can be purchased online at www.holisticequine.co.uk
The photos below illustrate the improvements to the heel:toe ratio and hoof pastern axis (HPA) when a 2 degree soft raised wedge pad is used over a 8 week period (@2 degree leather wedge base with 7mm NORA insole on top).
Have any questions? Why not book a Hoof Boot Consult or visit our Q and A section on Hoof Boots!
If, like our clients, you want to learn a PRO-Active approach to hoof care and wish to prevent lameness in your horse, consider booking us for an Integrative Podiatry Consult, Educational Event, Mentorship, On-line Course or join our new VIP membership where you can learn top tips straight from an expert!
We take an integrative and holistic approach to whole horse hoof and body health. We appreciate the relationship between body, limb and hoof and seek to address imbalances while positively influencing appropriate static and dynamic hoof balance and biomechanics.
Beccy Smith BSc DAEP EBW – Independent Equine Podiatrist and CEO of Holistic Reflections CIC
Holistic Reflections CIC – a 100% non-profit organisation promoting wellbeing and resilience in people, horses and the environment - for the benefit of all.