Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jumping In With Both (or would that be all 4) Feet

I have the farrier coming out this week, to do a recheck on Sassy, and to take care of Trax as well.  Killian's hooves grow so slowly he is not ready yet.  You may recall that I went ahead and put shoes on both the boys, and Sassy has her special shoes as well.

I've decided I don't like it.

Well maybe I should rephrase that.

I have always wanted to go with boots for the boys rather than shoes but needed to get something on their feet and thought, "Well shoes can't hurt them too much right?"

I'm thinking I may have been wrong in that statement.  Or atleast wrong when it comes to Trax.  Killian actually seems to do really well in shoes.  But again, his feet don't grow so who can tell for sure.

Trax on the other hand has hooves that grow like weeds.  We put shoes on him, so now there is no natural wear down at all.  His feet are looooooong!

Here they are 8 days ago when we went riding.

biggify to see better

Not the best pictures I know, and I wanted to zoom in on them but for some reason this computer I am doesn't have that option.  Damn work computers! 

 Here is a picture from one of his last trims in WY

To me it looks like there is a huge difference.

The other thing that concerns me is that he has 2 different front feet. One grows rounder and the other grows taller.  Well they did.  They don't now.  So I can't help but wonder if having the shoe on that one foot, which is forcing it to grow more up right like the other, is putting pressure on the internal workings of his hoof.  I mean his feet grow the way they do for a reason, and he is sound with those mismatched feet.  Am I running the risk of ruining that by forcing them to be symmetrical?  It wasn't my intention with the shoes, but it is the end result.  

The other thing I noticed is that his sole, which was always nice and hard before, is getting soft and chalky.  I don't think that is a good thing.  In fact I'm positive that it isn't.

I should probably mention that he is not lame in the metal shoes, so that is a good thing, but I am trying to look at the bigger picture here. Trax's feet, even being odd, were always pretty healthy, perhaps a bit dry at times, but over all not in bad shape.  He was ouchie on the rocks of the desert which is what prompted the shoes in the first place.

So here is the thing.  I've wanted to go to boots for him all along. But I was unsure of what I was doing, which ones to get, blah blah blah. So I wussed out and just threw some shoes on him.

So the farrier is coming out this week. I have made a decision.  No more shoes for Trax.  I will have him trimmed, measure him that day, and the next day when I get paid, go buy him boots. Luckily the closest boot store is 1/2 a mile away, that way if I get the wrong size...no biggie.

I admit I have no idea what I am doing with these boots, but I won't learn unless I start "getting my hands dirty" so to speak.   Once I get things figured out on him, I will move on to the next horse.

So that's it.  Jumping in, not necessarily with both eyes closed, because I am trying to be aware of all kinds of things, like if they rub on his legs, or if he can move easily in them, etc. But I do feel like I am taking a giant leap into unknown territory.

Not sure which boots I will go with yet, except that they will be Easy Boots.  If anyone has any advice on the different models of Easy Boots, I'd love to hear it.


  1. I don't like what shoes do to my horses either. I've tried them a few times and didn't like what I saw when they came off. They sure are convenient for riding on rocky surfaces though!

    The chalky sole is probably just dead sole sloughing off, but also the live sole that will be left after the trim will probably be softer. He'll need to build a callus again.

    I like my Easyboot Epics. They work, if they fit right. They did rub Tonka's heel bulbs after something like 60 miles in 2 days, but that was the only problem I've had with them. Except for mouthy horses reaching down and tearing the gaiters! I hate putting them on though, so I tend to avoid it unless I know I absolutely have to have them.

    My sister has Renegades and likes them. They look super easy to put on, and they're not supposed to rub. But I doubt a local store would carry them.

  2. Ok, cool. I was looking at the epics too. I can't see us doing 60 mile rides any time soon. I can't do it, even though he probably could. LOL I guess the renegades have to be ordered on line, and I may eventually go to those. They are a tad more expensive.

  3. There's this other stuff called keratex that has worked out great for my horses. I don't like shoes either and was about to buy boots for one of our horses who was sensitive on the gravel. The keratex helps harden the hoof and sole callous. Also different farrier work in how they were being trimmed made a huge difference too. They were being trimmed with the wrong angles and way too short--Haven't had any sensitivity whatsoever on gravel since those changes have been made :)

    I did put shoes on this summer just because we were riding so much and the hoof growth wasn't able to keep as quickly as I'd have liked.

    1. Thanks Laura, I will look into the Keratex. I do want him to build some good sole, and hopefully eventually his feet will be strong enough to go without boots unless we are venturing into really rocky terrain. I never had shoes on him in WY and he did great, but the ground here in AZ is much different. More rock, less sand.

  4. His feet do look very long and may be altering his stance. That "soft chalky" stuff is exfoliating sole that would normally wear off on its own, but the shoes prevent that. Don't let the farrier take too much of that off as it will provide protection for him while his feet adjust. I think you will find that they harden up on their own pretty fast in that dry climate.

    I use easyboot gloves, but the boot choice should be made according to what fits Trax best. The gloves tend to be rounder, while the epics a bit more oval. If the store is nearby, take tracings with you, or better yet, take the horse. The boots have to really fit well to work well. A poor fit will just annoy the hell out of both of you. You won't have to think about a good fit, once you get them on that is. You might want to invest in a cheap rubber mallet for getting the boots on tight. Good luck with your barefoot adventure.

  5. His feet do look long, my paint horse has feet that grow super fast too, 6 weeks is a long time between trims for her, luckily the only horse I ever had shoes on was my Jessie and she is good for them, I would like to try boots too, although not for showing, lol) so am reading this with interest.

  6. The easycare people online were great when i had to fit my draft cross mare. I sent them tracings and they decided on the best boots for her based on her hoof shape and size. It would be even better to be able to go to a store and mess about till you get it right. I had epics for one mare, a QH cross. They were good if a little fiddly to get on and off. Bares are supposed to be harder to get on when you first get them but easier after that. My draft cross had to have Boas because her feet were so wide compared to long. Didn't like those as much. I just checked the easycare site and they are phasing those out anyway due to the new styles being so much better. Maybe some reading on their site would help you be more informed when you go to the store? http://www.easycareinc.com/ I loved the look of Renegades but they wouldn't fit my draft and didn't exist when I had my QH. Don't know what they are like to use but they look great. :)

  7. Thank you everyone for your input. What you have told me really helps a lot.

  8. Just wanted to add my observation of people I know who use boots. First, it seems over the years a lot of people who are more recreational riders (occasionally showing) have been switching to boots and when showing glue ons. The problems I have seen with my friends dealing with the boots is having to get a really tight fit and when you get a tight fit they are a pain to get on. Then if you have a horse whose feet grow fast, you have to rasp the hoof yourself in order for the boot to fit. If the boot is too loose, then it either twirls around or completely falls off. One of my friend's horses is barefoot and he does fine that way but she was taking him to a hunter pace where they would be going over some rocks so she had her barefoot farrier fit her horse with boots. She said before they barely even started trotting the boots started falling off and she had to take them off. I was there when her farrier fit the horse for the boots. It was a really tight fit and I then rode him in the ring to see if they stayed on. They did in the ring but obviously not out on a hunter pace/trail with varried terrain. Also, the horses two front feet are not the same so the boots were tricky to fit. That said, I guess my point is it seems going barefoot with boots seems like a lot of work on the owners part or you have to have a horse whose feet are easy to fit. I, personally have never used boots. My horses have either had shoes or been fine just being barefoot all the time. It is a personal choice I think it really depends on the horse and how much time an owner has to work with the horses's feet. Just my two cents.

    1. Thanks that makes some good sense. One thing I know is that in an arena he is fine barefoot, so if we are competing he will be barefoot. But the on the trail I want him to have some protection against the rocks. We never do anything but walk and trot on trail rides so I am hoping they will stay on ok. Our trail rides would be considered to be easy on difficulty scale. Again thank you so much for your input.

  9. Sorry for the belated reply. My horses have either been barefoot or in boots their whole lives. I've only used metal shoes to hold bad cracks together, or because a trainer required it. They go over rocks in bare feet just fine as long as their hooves have hardened up from having barefoot trims for a year or longer. My first boot was Easyboot original, but I struggled with the cables and couldn't get them on or off without always breaking a fingernail or two. My second boot was Old Macs. Easy on and easy off, but I made the mistake of using one on Lostine when she had a hoof abscess, and the Old Macs rubbed all the hair and some skin off her heel. Now I'm using Renegades and haven''t had any problems yet. The heal captivators move with the heels instead of rubbing against them.

    Also, the barefoot trimmers are getting harder to find in our area, but they trim each hoof based upon how a horse walks on each hoof. They don't try to match them up so they look even to the eye. Some of my horses put more weight on the inside or the outside of a hoof. In that case, the farrier leaves a little more hoof in that location to give them time to wear it down naturally by putting their weight on it. That way they have extra support and will be less likely to put strain on their muscles. The insides of my heels always wear down the soles of my shoes and I have to throw them away, so I tend to buy shoes for myself that have a lot of support in that area so that they will last longer. Barefoot trimmers use the same approach to horses.

    1. Thank you. Belated replies are always welcome! Since we are riding in basically the same terrain your input helps ALOT!