A Cautionary Warning: There is much generalization and use of the term “people” in the following post. I’m not trying to say “everyone” does this, but rather, a broad spectrum of generalized behavior that I have noticed over the past several years. This is not intended to be critical of anybody, but rather, my personal view and opinion on behaviors and attitudes. Consider it, or take it worth a grain of salt.
Recently, there’s been a flurry of discussion activity on Ridecamp about hoof boots. Every winter, it seems, the topic of “shoes versus boots” gets dragged out. Thus far this winter, people are confining themselves to boot…comparisons.
While I could probably write a dissertation based on my opinions of the topic, that wasn’t really what stuck my fancy today. What I wanted to touch on is the seeming “double standard” that exists for hoof boots.
Everyone seems to be concerned with finding the “perfect boot.” Their standards for that boot seem to be: easy to fit, doesn’t rub, easy to put on, and never comes off.
All I have to say on that is, “When was the last time a horseshoe never came off?” Please, someone, share with me that they’ve never, in their entire career of horse ownership, had a horse that has lost a shoe. Pretty much impossible, right? So why are people so critical of a hoof boot coming off?
It seems to be an unfair expectation…as soon as people hear a story of a boot coming off, they write it off as being “no good.” And yet, shod horses that pull shoes get pass after pass, get the shoe nailed back on, and nothing more is said.
As a hoof boot user, I’ve had my fair share of them come off, some of them in places never to be seen again. I’ve calculated that I’ve got probably about $200 worth of hoof boots and hoof boot parts scattered across Arizona and southern California. But did that mean boots were worthless?
No, it just meant that something wasn’t working. It took some experimentation, time, and willingness to think outside the box and my comfort zone, but I eventually found what works for Mimi. One of the nice things about the popularity of the barefoot/hoofbooted movement taking off is the availability of different hoof boots on the market. There’s virtually something for almost anyone and any horse.
(Note the virtually and almost: I do believe that it’s entirely possible that boots might not work for every single horse out there. Dad’s first horse, a Foxtrotter mare, had an extremely exaggerated sliding action in her hind feet. Boots gave her too much grip, and made her movement too abrupt and jarring on her joints and muscles. It’s possible, given time, and knowing what I know now about hoof trimming, that we could have worked more with and gradually adapted her to using boots.)
And incidently? Mimi has lost at least one of every footwear I put on her. Regular shoes, padded shoes, aluminum shoes, regular Easyboots, glued-on Easyboots, Epics, Bares, and Renegades. No one thing out there is perfect.
I’m sure this is a topic that will never go away as long as there are metal shoes to be nailed on, and hoof boots to be fitted, and horse hooves that need protection. And that means the double standard will likely live on, too.