Wednesday, July 8, 2009

These boots are made for walkin' Part I

Some of you know that Riley is suffering through a hoof issue, and a hole in the bottom of his foot that needs to stay clean -- and until recently he was on turnout. I did some research and testing of hoof boots for turnout, and here is my considered opinion on the matter.

How I'm booting up my horses...
My research hasn't been exhaustive or first-hand in every case, but I learned enough to arrive at a reasonable verdict. It may surprise some of you to find that I recommend the Penn Equine Gear Hoof Sock for turnout. I gave this product a mixed review a few months ago, for reasons of fit more than anything. Even Penn Equine Gear does not say it the boot (pictured above/right) turnout-worthy. Yet it's lasted through weeks of turnout in a big field, with no sign of wearing through. I did take a few precautions...

  • I duct-taped the boot on, winding duct tape around his pastern three times. It would never have stayed on otherwise.
  • I vet-wrapped and duct taped his foot -- mostly to poultice the hoof but it also protected the ballistic nylon fabric from the sharp edges of the hoof.
  • Riley was unshod at the time I used it for turnout. Now that he is shod and stallbound, I'm putting the boot on his shod foot every other day, for added cleanliness and to help the bandaging last longer. I do it every other day so that his foot has a chance to breathe. The nylon is more breathable than a lot of other boots, but it's not the same as a bare foot.
There is similar product, a hoof slipper, on the market. It looked interesting in the magazine, but when I saw it in the store it didn't look as sturdy. Also the stiff leather bottom seemed too slick for safe turnout. Note that that manufacturer doesn't say it's turnout worthy either. It may be quite useful for stall-bound horses.

Penn Equine gear also makes a "trailworthy" boot that I also purchased for $49. It is nylon and breathable, but with a tougher outer sole. I have used it in Riley's stall with great success -- but the fit must be quite snug or the boot will turn. A second boot would be needed to test turnout. But the great thing about it is its soft construction. If it turned or got stepped on, it would not be painful to the horse. I'm sure I'll buy another one in the future, but I'm all booted out right now.

Coming up next... Hard turnout boots!


  1. Great to hear you will allow your horse turnout as he heals! With almost all hoof injuries, weeks of stall rest is often the first thing owners are told by vets, yet studies have shown that lack of movement limits new hoof growth. I find with infections, abscesses, cracks and other injuries where fast hoof growth is important, movement is key for recovery. Not to mention the mental issues of keeping a young horse in a stall for weeks at a time.

  2. I couldn't agree more with Anon 7/8 4:56PM - I'll leave the shod/unshod debate for another day, but in my experience (20+ years rehabbing x t-bred racers) the quickest recoveries have come to those horses in my care who are turned out - most especially in the case of abscess. Movement is key in maintaining proper hoof form and function - being stall bound limits movement which significantly lengthens the recovery timeline - not to mention what it'll do to some horses attitudes. I've seen surly to the point of dangerous injured/stall bound t-breds literally transformed into biddable pussycats overnight with turnout. Good luck with Riley. He looks like a real peach.

  3. I agree with the above posters on turnout for abscesses and such. Though I did keep my horse in for 30 days after hoof surgery w/tumor removal (from under the coffin bone) per the vet's instructions. I like keeping my horse barefoot, so while the hoof continued to heal over the next couple of months, I did an internal boot of gauze and duct tape with a Davis soaking boot over top. The Davis boot did eventually wear through, but it took several months, and it stayed on really well, was easy to take off and put on, flexible and didn't rub, etc. It's not very breathable, of course, but my horse managed really well for three whole months in that boot--a bit of a damp foot, but nothing terrible. Good luck with Riley!

  4. I have also used a Davis soaking boot to protect a naked hoof. As long as it's dry out, the boot does a terrific job of protecting the hoof and keeping dirt out. My farrier was the one who initially recommended it after my horse had thrown a shoe.

    I hope Riley has a quick recovery!

  5. Too funny! (sort of!)

    I was dealing with an abscess and researching boots and socks when I stumbled on your blog and the review of the Horse Sock you had written.

    Your problems with the Sock kept me from trying it!
    That and I had my doubts about it working well when she was turned out.

    Our horse is nearly blind and keeping her up really is not a good option - she bangs into things and gets so irritated we all felt that she would do more damage to herself being kept up, then if she could be out.

    We ended up going with a Davis Medicine Boot....which despite some issues with (the strap being the biggest problem...why, why use VELCRO when a buckle would work so much better!!!!) --- did exactly what we needed it to do and our horse not only didn't fuss about wearing it - she actually seemed to walk better with it than she had in months.

    The woman I bought the boot from - recommended using an Epsom Salt poultice - and that and the boot did the trick.

    She didn't favor that foot at all with the boot on --- without it - we notice she favors it slightly, but huge improvement over where we were a month ago.

    I will be curious to see how yours done with the turnout --- my thinking was --- once it rains a few times and gets muddy....I'm thinking it will be harder to get all that velcro reclosed.


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