During the winter, frozen footing can make it difficult to continue riding your horse. Traditionally, winter horseshoes were your only option if you wanted to ride on hard, rocky, or icy terrain, however, in recent years, equestrians have begun to utilize hoof boots in lieu of horseshoes.
While they have increased in popularity for all seasons, hoof boots can allow you to tackle winter riding in less than ideal footing. Keep reading to learn how you and your horse could benefit from a properly fitting pair of hoof boots this winter.
The Winter Dilemma
In the winter, proper hoof care for your horse can be a challenge, especially if you want to continue riding or driving.
Winter horseshoes equipped with borium studs provide traction, but they can be pricey, especially if you only ride your horse occasionally. Horseshoes also encourage snowballs to form in your horse’s shoes, making them unbalanced and unsteady, which may result in soft tissue injuries. Snowball pads and rim pads do eliminate snowballing in the horseshoes, but some equestrians feel that they do not allow the frog to function as it was designed because it no longer connects with the ground to act as a shock absorber.
“Barefoot hooves, on the other hand, come in direct contact with the ground and are less likely to ball up with snow,” explains Carole Herder, the President of Cavallo Hoof Boots. “The hoof wall, sole, frog, and bars adapt through circulation and growth, to work more efficiently in the harsher conditions.”
The pitfall to keeping your horse barefoot however, is that some horses’ hooves cannot hold up to the rigors of being barefoot, particularly when being ridden on frozen and uneven ground. Barefoot horses may experience hoof breakage and cracking in addition to sole bruising. This can be painful for your horse and is often extremely slow to heal.
Hoof boots allow the benefits of keeping your horse barefoot, while giving them the same support and protection that comes with wearing a set of horse shoes when under saddle. According to Carol, the Cavallo Hoof Boot sole design leaves no space for snow or ice balls to gather while providing your horse with shock-absorbing, weight distributing, and pressure minimizing features.
Get a Grip!
Adding studs to the the sole of your horse’s hoof boots maximizes traction, much like a set of studded snow tires does for your car. Studs dig into the footing keeping your horse from slipping, and they add security and stability to your ride.
“Studs are a simple way to increase you and your horse’s safety,” says Carol. “Apply the appropriate studs to the tread of your horse’s boots to increase traction in treacherous winter conditions. Hoof boots with studs provide superior traction in slippery conditions, such as ice, slush, mud, and snow.”
We carry studs and stud application kits for a wide range of brands of hoof boots including Easy Boots and Cavallo Boots, allowing equestrians the ability to add protection from slipping and falling to their favorite pair of hoof boots. The type of stud you select will depend on which type of footing you are riding on, as well as the type of hoof boots that you prefer.
How to Install Studs
Stud installation is quick and easy: simply screw the right stud into your horse’s boot with the appropropriate tool. The studs screw into the sole of the boot and never come in contact with your horse’s hoof. When the footing has improved and the studs are no longer required, you can easily remove them from the soles until they are needed again.
To install studs into your horse’s hoof boots, set the boot on a solid surface and begin by drilling starter holes into the boot’s sole in the desired location with an electric drill (most manufacturers suggest a 3/16 drill bit). The holes should not be deep, just enough to break through the tread. Then position the stud over the hole and use the stud installation tools to gently screw the stud’s thread into the boot until they are seated in to hoof boot all the way to the base of the stud. It is recommended that you use at least four studs per boot, but you can use as many as 10 studs for increased traction.
Fit is Everything
Hoof boots must fit well to be useful and provide comfort. Some boots are sold individually, while others are sold in pairs. Those that are sold individually will generally offer a closer more personalized fit since they can be tailored to each individual hoof. Generally, hoof boots from EasyCare tend to fit a narrower hoof, while those from Cavallo fit a rounder hoof.
Measuring for Easyboots
- After a fresh trim, measure the width of the hoof (green line).
- Measure the length of the hoof from the toe to the buttress line of the heel.
- Compare your measurement with the appropriate size chart.
Note: Each boot style has its own unique size chart. If you are fitting an Easyboot Glove, width and length must fall into the same size category.
Measuring for Cavallo Hoof Boots
Take The Leap
Hoof boots are extremely versatile and can assist your horse in staying comfortable and sound when being ridden. They also last longer than a pair of traditional horseshoes, making them a more economical option in the long run. Some equestrians choose to use hoof boots on just their horse’s front hooves, while horseback riders who log more hours in the saddle or tackle difficult terrain choose to use hoof boots on both the front and back hooves.
See why so many of our customers have begun to utilize hoof boots instead of traditional metal horseshoes or riding their barefoot horse.
If you have any questions regarding hoof boots and hoof boot studs, we invite you to reach out to a member of our friendly and experienced sales staff, some of which use hoof boots on their own horses every time they saddle up and ride.