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View Full Version : Endurance - Barefoot, Boots, or Shoes???



Rangergirl56m
Feb. 19, 2010, 12:22 AM
I am just getting into endurance races...this year we wont be doing anything more than 25 miles...what would you recommend for hooves?

Yankee, my TB has very wide, flat hooves that are a pain in the butt to keep trimmed. He was shod the entire time he was in training to race, & while racing on the track but has been barefoot for the last 3 years or so.

Would you leave him barefoot? If you used shoes, what kind would you use if anything specific? Could I live him barefoot and use boots for training & racing? How quickly do boots wear out?

Thanks so much!

NoBSshoer
Feb. 19, 2010, 07:45 AM
He'll need shoeing for sure. You'll need clips and some kind of traction increasing device as well. If a flat shoe I'd go for studs rather than Borium. You can also do well with a full swage/concave shoe. This will give good traction without the added expense of studs and is oftentimes just as long wearing. Just depends on your use. I'd tend to shy away from aluminum for that kind of work.

Booties are unnacceptable. I'll grant that they are a good thing to carry in your saddlebag as an emergency "spare tire". They are NOT and never were intended to be, a substitute for proper shoeing. They'll rub, sore a horse up, never fit properly, deliver too much shock on hard ground, be slippery on grass, trap bacteria, and just generally cause more problems than their worth.

It'll be helpful to have a shoer that is experienced in the type of discipline your in. That will surely make you more competitive.

Guilherme
Feb. 19, 2010, 07:50 AM
Whatever allows the horse to do its job in the most efficient manner.

Odds are you'll find shoes are the best answer.

G.

rmh_rider
Feb. 19, 2010, 08:11 AM
I only stud a horse if I am going to be riding on alot of pavement or if there are lots of rocks to climb.

I would recommend shoes, since you already know he needs them. No clips. At no time here in the southeast have I ridden an endurance horse of mine which needed clips. Now when I was in WA I did use clips. Mud, and sucking mud was the reason. Also the foot would get waterlogged, and I wanted those shoes to stay on the horse. We have very hot and humid weather here. We do have sucking mud clay. I have ridden on some horribly wet sucking mud rides here in the southeast, but none I thought required clips. Now the QH I had for trails, just to keep his shoes on I had to go to the extreme and put clips on him. He didn't have very good feet.

Start with a basic pair of shoes and then go from there.

My shoer does event, dressage, jumping, fox hunting, polo type horses. He is an AWSOME shoer. He does my arab for endurance with no problem, and he also does my gaited rocky filly with no problem. And this is the first and only rocky he has. But he is not new to gaited, but for the rocky no special shoeing/trimming/angles is required. So I do not agree you need a special shoer. Just one who knows how to shoe a horse properly, and correctly for the horses shoulder, leg, and hoof angles.

Yes, you want whatever allows the horse to do it's job the most efficiently, just like Guilherme said so correctly.

BTW I have mentioned this before, my arab only gets 2 nails on each side of his hoof. On all four feet. He has NEVER lost a shoe. NEVER. So don't think a horses hooves need to be loaded up with all those nails. I do have a few pictures of his feet showing the nail placement and he does have studs on in the pictures too. Just PM me if you are interested in seeing them.

I am a shoe girl. Hoof boots are so much trouble.

PRS
Feb. 19, 2010, 08:26 AM
I think this is more of a personal choice thing and what works out to be the best for the horse. I prefer to keep my horses barefoot but I do use hoof boots when I'm riding in rough or unknown terrain. It is my opinion that hoof boots offer more protection than steel shoes because they protect the entire sole and hoof wall. I don't find them hard to use or a pain in the butt, I've never lost a boot in mud and have found that my horse moves out with more confidence when he has his boots on.

pj
Feb. 19, 2010, 10:13 AM
I think this is more of a personal choice thing and what works out to be the best for the horse. I prefer to keep my horses barefoot but I do use hoof boots when I'm riding in rough or unknown terrain. It is my opinion that hoof boots offer more protection than steel shoes because they protect the entire sole and hoof wall. I don't find them hard to use or a pain in the butt, I've never lost a boot in mud and have found that my horse moves out with more confidence when he has his boots on.

I also think that the boots would give more protection than shoes (we shoe).
The only reason I've never gone that way is the fear of rubbing and also seen some put boots on that were a hassle to put on and to take off.
The other week I went on a tough ride with friends riding one of their horses and the horse I rode wore boots. I was amazed at how quickly they booted that horse. It was kinda step in and snap and done! Boots stayed put the entire ride and were just as easy to take off as they were to put on! Pretty neat.

PRS
Feb. 19, 2010, 10:34 AM
I also think that the boots would give more protection than shoes (we shoe).
The only reason I've never gone that way is the fear of rubbing and also seen some put boots on that were a hassle to put on and to take off.
The other week I went on a tough ride with friends riding one of their horses and the horse I rode wore boots. I was amazed at how quickly they booted that horse. It was kinda step in and snap and done! Boots stayed put the entire ride and were just as easy to take off as they were to put on! Pretty neat.

I've used hoof boots for three years now and have never had a problem with rubs or loose or twisting boots. I've learned to apply the boots quickly, they come off at the end of the ride just a quickly and are no more of a pain to put on than my own shoes. I've used them in rough rocky terrain where horses with steel shoes were pussy footing through the trail and obviously having trouble with the rocks...my horse just chugged right on through with confidence that his feet were safe. I've used them crossing deep mud, creeks, up hills, down hills and down paved roads. I belive that they actually absorb some of the shock from hitting hard surfaces, certainly better than a steel shoe. IMO properly fitting hoof boots are the best thing going for me and my horse.

chicamuxen1
Feb. 19, 2010, 11:31 AM
You'll have to make this decision. Do you really want to keep your horse barefoot? Is this what you really feel is the best for your horse? If so then see if there is a boot that is the correct shape for your horse and is recommended for this sport. Cavallos, Old Macs, a few others are not recommended for more than pleasure riding.

TB's can have difficult feet. You said his feet were hard to trim. Do you mean that the horse is difficult or his hooves are the issue?

Where do you live and ride? What are the surfaces that you will be conditioning on?

If you decide to use shoes then I highly recommend the St. Croix Eventers, one of the most popular shoes in use by endurance riders. They have a great breakover around the entire perimeter and they grab the ground and slip less than flatter shoes. I use the Natural Balance shoes on the front feet of my horses if they need it, but always have the eventers on the hind feet. I also use borium tipped nails a good bit as I ride rocky areas and bluestome roads a lot.

Many TB's have issues with thin walls and loosing shoes. We found that a friends TB who was impossible to keep shoes on would hold her shoes just fine by using Vettec pour-in pads. The pad material protected her soles and let her weight distribute across her soles, frogs and walls. The walls quit splitting around the nail heads, and the Vettec material acted like a glue. No more lost shoes and very significant hoof improvement. Also, the foot under the pads stayed clean and dry, in very good shape, very different from using nail on pads.

I have found the same thing with the Hoof-It pour-in pads that I put in myself. Just an idea for you and others who need sole protection or have issues with lost shoes.

Bonnie S.

Rangergirl56m
Feb. 19, 2010, 11:39 AM
I really appreciate everyone's advice. Here's another question on the boots... how long do they last or run out? Once he gets up to full time training we will be doing several miles a day. I don't want to get boots if they are going to wear out super quick.

Is there a specific brand of boots you would recommend in general wither I choose them full time or just as a back up to shoes?

Anyway, Yankee is getting his hooves done Monday & I'm going to just put shoes on his front feet to start with and we will go from there. He's been having some problems with his rear hooves that we are hoping to get worked out before we start training.

Rangergirl56m
Feb. 19, 2010, 11:58 AM
You'll have to make this decision. Do you really want to keep your horse barefoot? Is this what you really feel is the best for your horse?

I only want to do what is best for him. I am fairly new to horse ownership, I've only had him for a year. I am learning a lot but am still trying to learn as much as I can in a short period of time. He has been barefoot since I got him, however he wasn't do anything more than the occasional ride once a week. I do think that shoes are going to be the best place to start with him and go from there. I have been asking for advice from my farrier, my vet, & my trainers...I only want to do what is best for my horse.



TB's can have difficult feet. You said his feet were hard to trim. Do you mean that the horse is difficult or his hooves are the issue?

His hooves are very flat & wide and in back he has low heels. I haven't been able to find a farrier since I moved to Kansas in Sept who does a decent job with him. As for the horse itself, he does okay with farriers, but definitely not the best. Sometime in his past, a farrier wasn't very nice to him I'm guessing because when a farrier shows up he just starts shaking. He will shake and cower from the time the guy starts until the time he leaves the property. He is fine with my husband, and I picking up and messing with his hooves...even our friends can do it, but as soon as the trim starts, Yankee is not a happy camper. My husband & his brother(who is a trainer) have been working with him to get him to desensitize him to it a little more and he has shown a lot of improvement. So hopefully he'll continue to get better.



Where do you live and ride? What are the surfaces that you will be conditioning on?

Well we live in South Central Kansas, down by the KS/OK boarder. His conditioning will be done primarily on plowed fields, dirt road shoulders & dirt roads.




If you decide to use shoes then I highly recommend the St. Croix Eventers, one of the most popular shoes in use by endurance riders. They have a great breakover around the entire perimeter and they grab the ground and slip less than flatter shoes.

I will talk to the farrier on Monday to see if he could possibly get those.



Many TB's have issues with thin walls and loosing shoes.

I really hope that Yankee is not like this! If so I might have to look into the Vettec stuff more.

Thanks so much!

gypsymare
Feb. 19, 2010, 01:23 PM
If you do decide to go the boot route there are reps available who can help you choose the right model for your horse and might suggest some modifications. If his feet are very wide that could indicate flaring, and the boot won't fit properly. They might also fit too tall and have to be trimmed. It will be worth the time and effort for a consultation if it means you don't have to buy and return several sets of boots.

It also depends on your climate and stabling practices. Excessive moisture is hell on hooves. The same horse that can canter happily around on a Las Vegas lava rock strewn field may have its feet worn to nubs navigating the rocky and muddy trails in Missouri if he's kept in mud to his fetlocks most of the time. Shoeing is usually the easier route, and as long as you have a very GOOD shoer, should not be damaging.

PRS
Feb. 19, 2010, 01:47 PM
I really appreciate everyone's advice. Here's another question on the boots... how long do they last or run out? Once he gets up to full time training we will be doing several miles a day. I don't want to get boots if they are going to wear out super quick.

Is there a specific brand of boots you would recommend in general wither I choose them full time or just as a back up to shoes?

Anyway, Yankee is getting his hooves done Monday & I'm going to just put shoes on his front feet to start with and we will go from there. He's been having some problems with his rear hooves that we are hoping to get worked out before we start training.

Here is Easy Care's website. Lots of information on the different boot styles here:
http://www.easycareinc.com/education/new_to_boots.aspx
I use Old Mac's G2 and have had the same pair for 3 years and they are still in good shape. They are not recommended for the type of riding you plan to do though and some associations have rules against boots that cover the coronet band anyhow. I don't put the kind of mileage you will putting on your guy though. You can probably expect a pair of boots to last a year or more, depending on which kind you get. I have found that I like having my horses barefoot, they have fewer hoof related problems and the farrier savings have paid for the boots. It is important to have the hooves regularly trimmed by a farrier that understands and is on board with barefoot trimming. I was lucky and the first hoof boot I tried worked for me. Some are not so lucky. Careful measuring of the hoof is important to get a boot that fits. There are instructions on the website for measuring too.

matryoshka
Feb. 19, 2010, 05:17 PM
I had an OTTB that I planned to compete in endurance in boots. I used Epics on all four feet, but they were slick on wet grass. Now they have better tread and closure options, and I'd probably use the Edge for that particular horse. He was a problem child from the outset. As Chickamuxen noted, not every style is recommended for distance. Any boot with a closure above the coronet (not counting the gaiter) has a good chance of rubbing when the mileage increases.

My boy had very wide feet, and habitually over-reached, so I had to combine two sizes to suit his needs. He wore size 3 for width and needed 2's for length. I bought size 3 Easyboots (have same tread as the Epics) and size 2 heel strap and gaiters. Then I cut the back out of the boot down to the sole and replaced the heel strap and added the smaller gator. It worked very well for him. He needed a size two on his hinds, and I cut a sliver out of each side to make room for his quarters. That way I could use the right length boot and have his breakover correct.

I did try to compete him in the Epics, and he did fine. I just had to manage his speed where I thought the footing would be slick. That was it. He did not need pads or anything fancy. I carried an extra boot I'd modified (his old pair with a more worn tread) so that I could replace it if he stepped on himself and damaged a boot.

We had to pull out of the one competition I entered him into, but it was because of the junior rider we were mentoring, not because of my horse. Twice he hit what felt like racetrack speed in those boots, and he never slipped. Yes, he ran away with me during that ride. Yes, I got him stopped. I don't mind a nice gallop, but that was waaaaay too fast for me!

We put in a lot of conditioning miles in the Epics. Now I'd use the Edge, because I like the tread and the closure better. The Edge was not available at that time, and the Bares did not work out well. I also had a pair of original Old Macs for him that were easier to put on when we were going for shorter rides or when I thought the footing was slick. I used this horse to guide benefit trail rides, too. He needed boots every time I rode him. I suspect he'd had pedal osteitis at some point, and he simply needed hoof protection when ridden.

If I'd had him shod, he'd have needed pads for competition to protect his soles.

As for how long the boots last, I think there is a lot of variation. I don't know how many miles we put on the first pair of boots I modified. I purchased a new pair for the competition so he'd have decent traction, but the old pair were still useable. This horse loved to gallop, and we did quite a bit of that during our conditioning rides, in boots. No problems.

matryoshka
Feb. 19, 2010, 05:28 PM
From the above post, you can see that boot use can be work for the rider, and it can take some time to figure out which boot works for your horse. Shoes are easier for the rider and lighter weight for the horse, no question. The Glove is probably the lightest boot out there, but I wouldn't use them on a horse that over-reaches (in case your horse does this).

I do want to say that it is possible to use boots for distance riding. Not every horse, and not every rider.

I had very firm reasons for keeping the TB I posted about barefoot. I currently have a little Arab mare who has feet that look like they belong on a TB. I have no problems shoeing her for competition. Okay, I'd rather keep her barefoot, and if I were competing her myself, I would make it work. However, somebody else is competing her for me, and she gets to decide whether to use shoes or boots.

The right answer is the one that works for you and the horse. Sounds like that answer could be shoes.

Tip: the shoeing before a competition, have your farrier shape an extra shoe for each hoof to bring along to the competition. That way if he pulls a shoe mid-ride, it will be easier for another farrier to tack one on. Also, carry an Easyboot or other style that fits your horse to put on if your horse pulls a shoe on the trail. I've seen horses pulled by vets for lameness because they lost a shoe during the ride and then managed to bruise their feet.

Guilherme
Feb. 19, 2010, 05:39 PM
You know in this matter "personal choice" is not a "player." The only standard is the objective performance of the horse. If it can do the job barefoot then God Bless You. If it can't then keeping the horse barefoot is abusive.

G.

Lieselotte
Feb. 19, 2010, 05:46 PM
As some people have pointed out, you have to figure out what works for your horse in your area in your discipline...

It sounds as if the ground you ride on most of the time is fairly soft so you may very well be okay with a barefoot/boots combination. How does your horse do now when you ride him once a week? If you gradually add more riding days on the same kind of ground, his hooves may simply grow stronger and actually improve. But if you see more wear and tear than you like definitely put at least boots on. And if those don't work for him, then shoe him. Try everything else first because once you start shoeing, you kind of commit...

Here's what works for my mare at this point: barefoot/boot combination from November until March, then sneakers. I ride her barefoot in the arena and on dirt and forest trails. I use Easyboot Gloves on more rocky and gravelly trails. We do about 20-40 miles a week to prepare for our first 25 miler. She's blessed with hard, nicely shaped hooves and this regimen has worked very well for her so far and is also economical. I'm still on my first pair of Gloves. Their wear and tear also depends on the ground conditions, just like you horse's hooves, so you will have to replace them eventually but not quickly.

Once we start competing and train on more demanding technical footing, she will get "sneakers" and I hope they will work well for her for the season:
http://www.equithotics.com/index.htm

AZ Native
Feb. 24, 2010, 11:35 AM
He'll need shoeing for sure. You'll need clips and some kind of traction increasing device as well. If a flat shoe I'd go for studs rather than Borium. You can also do well with a full swage/concave shoe. This will give good traction without the added expense of studs and is oftentimes just as long wearing. Just depends on your use. I'd tend to shy away from aluminum for that kind of work.

Booties are unnacceptable. I'll grant that they are a good thing to carry in your saddlebag as an emergency "spare tire". They are NOT and never were intended to be, a substitute for proper shoeing. They'll rub, sore a horse up, never fit properly, deliver too much shock on hard ground, be slippery on grass, trap bacteria, and just generally cause more problems than their worth.

It'll be helpful to have a shoer that is experienced in the type of discipline your in. That will surely make you more competitive.
I respectfully but totally disagree. Check out the testimonials on DH's website from endurance riders. Too, we have a client ( link to her website too ) who is one of the top 3 riders in the Rocky Mt. Region , and FEI 100 mi. rider and may compete in this years WEG.She used to compete in shoes and has never been more sucessful since she went barefoot or booted.

You can check out or call EasyCare and you will find that booted or glued on " Gloves '' are the state of the art in hoof protection for the top riders including Tevis competitors. Yes they sell the boots, but they have limitless info and testimonials from riders on their website.
I haven't read passed this so forgive me if the issue was already addressed.
OP, you are welcome to PM me for more info if you need it.

Re the TB foot : Learn about diet ( we link to Katy Watts ), feed low carb, fat like rice bran as needed, and a mineral balance suited to your hay. Get a good hoof care professional ( not easy, I know , or learn to trim yourself ) and regular maintenance trims.We have clients maintaining barefoot TB's very sucessfully :)

KarenC
Feb. 24, 2010, 01:31 PM
I don't normally respond to these kinds of discussions, but since the OP admitted to being somewhat of a newbie, I thought my experience might prove helpful.

When I was in Michigan and only doing LDs/CTRs, I went barefoot w/boots. We could not find a decent farrier so my husband took over hoof trimming - but couldn't apply shoes. My mare has good feet and most of the trails were sandy - the footing she was conditioning on/competing on was generally softer than her footing in her pasture. I would only use the boots for longer conditioning rides and competitions, barefoot for shorter conditioning rides. I used the easy bares (fit her better than the epics) but did struggle with some rubbing from the gaitors. I feel that the rubbing issue would have caused more serious problems when I moved up to 50s.

When I moved down to NE Ohio I planned to continue with the bare/boots - got a pair of Renegades (because of the difficulty of applying/removing the Bares and the rubbing issue). However, our pasture was much wetter than back home, and the trails were much harder footing. She was getting mild sole bruising in her fronts (obvious because she has white soles). This meant I would have to boot every ride. At that point, it made more sense to shoe her - here we were able to find a good farrier who has done a really good job on all our horses. I shoe her all around and use pour-in pads on the front feet. She did 3 25s and 3 50s last season and I pulled her shoes after the last of the good weather to give her a break. Shoes are going on again mid-March.

So, just an example - it depends on the individual horse, the horse's home environment, and your riding environments as to what is going to work.

katyb
Feb. 24, 2010, 06:19 PM
So, just an example - it depends on the individual horse, the horse's home environment, and your riding environments as to what is going to work.

That's all true, but it also depends upon the skill of the trimmer. While a pasture trim might work in some conditions, you need a balanced barefoot trim to avoid bruising, hoof wall separation, etc under more challenging conditions.

mustangtrailrider
Feb. 24, 2010, 09:08 PM
To me, a good trim is a good trim is a good trim. I see no difference in a pasture trim and a performance trim or a rehab trim.

My farrier trims to the current needs of my horse. He looks at her, asks me how she is moving, and trims her feet.....

No such thing as a "pasture trim" in my horses!

pnalley
Feb. 27, 2010, 12:44 PM
KarenC,
Can you give your thoughts on the Renegades? This is the only boot I like the looks of enough to consider trying. I am a diehard metal shoe person.

I think I am going to try the Renegades, now I have to figure out which horse to test them on.