By Lucy nicholas
Firstly, when choosing hoof boots, you need to establish the right size. You should measure your horses hooves within seven days of a fresh trim, taking the width and length in mm. Width is taken at the widest point of the horse’s hoof (normally approximately halfway or slightly over halfway towards the heel from the toe). The length is taken to be the weight bearing surface of the hoof; do not include the frog/fleshy part of the heel.
It is helpful for accuracy to hold a straight edge (like a short ruler) across the back of the heel buttresses and also across the toe area, bisecting the frog to the line you have formed. If you horse has very upright or under run heels, you will need to envisage where the heel should be if the hoof were more normal conformation, and take your measurements to that point, and not the actual termination of the horny heel. Once you have determined the width and length of the hooves you wish to boot, contact your retailer for advice, as they will know what type of boots would suit your horse’s feet. You are aiming for a close a fit as possible, with both the width and length of the hooves fitting into the measurements for the same size of boot.
The longer than wide hoof
It is common for hooves to be slightly longer than wide (approx 5-10mm longer than width measurement) and these feet are well catered for in the hoof boot market, generally.
However the much longer than wide hoof (approx over 10mm longer than width measurement) is less common. The front feet of a navicular or lamanitic horse can often be very much longer than wide, however with the support of a good hoofcare professional these hoof shapes can be corrected over time.
This conformation is more commonly seen in hind feet, where the hoof is more concave and ‘shovel’ shaped. The ‘diamond’ shaped hind foot tends to be longer than wide. With these hoof shapes, do make sure the width is as tight and close as possible (within the measurement guide) to grip the hoof. This can be especially important with hind feet which may twist with the animal’s natural action, which can cause the boots to twist undesirably.
For longer than wide fore feet, work closely with your hoof care professional as well as the retailer or manufacturer, to ensure you choose the best hoof boot. The old Mac range is worth considering! The Old Mac G2 is very popular, and fits a multitude of sizes and shapes. The more modern New Mac Hoof Boot, pictured, is one of the industry’s latest models.
The wider than long hoof
The wider than long hoof (more than 5mm wider than long) is commonly seen in horses just out of shoes, or those being ‘pasture trimmed’, as opposed to a more performance-orientated trim. The wide hooves of horses just out of shoes with flare and asymmetry will more than likely be corrected fairly quickly.
If you are booting up a horse with hooves over 10mm wider than longer – which can be seen in fully transitioned Draught horses – the risk is that you will buy a boot that is realistically a size too large – so take a great deal of care when choosing, and speak to the retailer or manufacturer about what boot would work best – a boot such as the wide fit Glove from Easycare is often a good hoof boot candidate for such feet!
Bear in mind that excess flare, perhaps in a horse fairly recently out of horse shoes, can also give the impression of a very wide hoof, when really this is ‘excess’ width that will be corrected. With these hoof shapes, do make sure the width is as tight and close as possible (within the measurement guide) to grip the hoof, and keep the break over at the toe as short as possible.
Lucy Nicholas represents leading hoof boot retailer thesaddleryshop.co.uk