Thursday, April 29, 2010


Walk into the back door of most folks houses and you'll find an old pair of shoes, maybe some dirty boots. But I had to chuckle yesterday when I walked in and realized there were four horse boots along side four of my own, just waiting to welcome folks that might come in. :-)
Since I have been riding the horses in Easyboot Gloves rather than shoes, the easyboots have come in the house. They are easier to put on when they are a bit warm. Hey I did wash them before I brought them in.
Most folks have never seen such a thing, either in the house or on the horse. Often when I ride people will say something like "Well now I've never seen shoes like those!" So I have to give them the whole story on the boots. And those that have horses often look at me with disdain and ask why do I bother and not just shoe?
Well I've always believed that horses are better off barefoot. The frog makes good ground contact, pumps the blood and the hoof is healthier due to better circulation. Look at the hoofprints on the trail and with the shod horses all you see is the shoe imprint. But the barehoof leaves an imprint of the hoof outline, the frog, and perhaps even the detail of the bars and cleft of the frog. You seldom see contracted heels in a barefoot horse and the walls are often thicker and stronger. For years I have ridden horses barefoot as much as possible, shoeing only when necesary. Usually that meant shoes on about a week before the first ride and off right after the last ride of the season. Last summer in a gap between endurance rides I pulled Thunder's shoes and gave his hooves a break for a month. Because of this transitioning my horses over to a bare hoof lifestyle wasn't too difficult.
In past years I tried to just use Easyboots, Epics or Bares. But I never could quite solve the problems with them. So I'd end up shoeing just before ride season began again. The boots would go in the cantle bag as my spare tire if I lost a shoe. The new Gloves however have solved a lot of the previous hang ups of booting (rubbing, losing them, forging), and with help from some friends I got them working on both the boys.
When I first started using the Gloves I was forever looking down to be sure that all four were still on. Now I don't really think about it too much. I know I "can" lose one but so far they have stayed on through rocks, washes, sand, water and silly behavior from my horse. I did worry a bit about that first endurance ride in them but even that went just fine. So, just like when I was a kid, I can go out and trim the hooves and keep them at a consistent length and in good condition. If I get behind I can still get my farrier to come help me out.
Admittedly, booting and bare feet aren't for everyone. Because some folks don't like to trim or fiddle with hooves and boots. They just want to saddle up and ride, which is fine. But I like knowing what is going on with my horses and so far the boots aren't that time consuming. I can pick out the hooves and put on four boots in less than ten minutes. Now later on when I try to glue some on, that theory will probably change. But in the long run I still like the idea of bare hooves and letting the horses go "bootscootin'" down the trail!

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