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Question on Boot Use in Endurance and Trail riders

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  • Question on Boot Use in Endurance and Trail riders

    Someone asked in another forum what percentage of endurance horses compete in boots versus shoes. I was wondering if folks here could help answer that question? I'm also curious how many trail/pleasure riders use them.

    I know that there were recent wins at Biltmore in Renegade boots for both the 100 and 75 mile race. I also know there have been a number of top finishers at the Tevis in Easyboots...the glue ons at least which I'm counting in this survey. Those are the ones I've heard about anyway...I know there are many races all over the US.

    I'm NOT trying to start any debates on barefoot versus shoes versus boots but only asking a question as I do not compete in endurance...not yet anyway. I'm a wanna be but that is probably next spring at soonest. So anyway, I'd love to hear what the distance riders in here are seeing.

    I can say that for trail riders in my area, boots are still only a small percentage of what I see. Most people use metal shoes or go bare but I do see more and more horse owners using boots now than I used to and constantly I'm asked to do fittings or for input/help at trail rides and horse camps. Mr DDB and both use Gloves all the way around on our horses currently. I'd guess about 10-20% use boots as needed in trail riding depending on where you are terrain wise.

  • #2
    I did do shoes for many years for trail riding then through education and trial and error I went bare foot. However I did use epics for the transition period of one solid year and on and off for the second year. If I am home I only go barefoot, but if I travel I will put the epics on the fronts if I don't know the terrain.

    I would probably try the new gloves or renegades but the epics still have a good bit of wear on them so when I ever wear these out I will try one of them.

    Of the people I ride with some will always have shoes, period... Others will do shoes if the are traveling and don't want the trouble of boots, but will pull shoes when they get home and go back to boots or barefoot. Quite a few are barefoot all the time like myself and will put boots on when they need to.

    Most of the people I ride with go with some sort of easy boot product (epics bares and gloves) as they have a good track record with us for ease of use and fit, cost, and staying on through all we go through.

    Personally it has saved me a ton of money not having shoes. Now I do most of my trimming and have a professional do touch ups every so often. A huge plus is my horses feet are healthier and I don't get stuck not riding when I loose a shoe anymore.

    Also remember some horses just don't have the feet to ever go barefoot, so it will always be shoes for them regardless.

    OK to answer the question it will be broken up into thirds, third booted, third barefoot and third shod.
    Last edited by Hawleyite; Jun. 2, 2012, 07:03 PM. Reason: Forgot to answer question....


    • #3
      I'm going to Descanso next weekend. I'll look and try to give you my best guesstimate on % in boots vs. shoes. Both mine are barefoot and the two I owned before them were my first "barefoot" horses which I successfully transitioned.

      Just out of the group I condition with, I'd say it's about 50/50 boots vs. shoes. And we are all endurance riders.


      • #4
        At the Foxcatcher in April there were a lot of riders in hoof boots- the majority of the hoof boots users were in renegades. My horse went in regular shoes up front with pads. I am planning on doing a 2 day 50 CTR at the end of July and my thought (and my farrier's thought) is to put her in renegades. She has typical Morgan feet of iron which work great barefoot for normal trail riding, but when I'm doing a lot of trot work she doesn't perform her best due to the crazy amount of rock we have on the trails here (DB- the rock pic you showed from Fort Valley would be what I consider my non-rocky trails). I like idea of being able to put the protection on when I need it and take it off afterwards, plus I think they provide more cushion and support than just a plain shoe and I really don't like using pads for any length of time.
        "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
        So you might as well have a good time"


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the replies. More than I thought then. Cool!


          • #6
            I train barefoot and compete in Renegades. Of the people that I train with, I would say about 50/50 barefoot or booted vs shod. That percentage goes way down at rides, though -- my best guess is less than 15% or 20% barefoot or booted. Sometimes it's hard to tell at a glance if people are competing completely bare -- boots are easier to see! It'll be much easier to tell at Old Dominion next week, since boots or shoes are required.
            RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.


            • #7
              My guy goes barefoot unless I know there is a particularly rocky loop of the trail. He'll wear Renegades for that loop only typically. Occasionally I'll put them on longer if he's starting to get ouchy, but that's pretty rare.

              Then again, I have an Arab with perfect rock hard feet that lend themselves to going barefoot on just about any footing (he'll canter down most gravel roads without blinking - only has problems with freshly laid gravel that's sharper).

              He's never worn shoes a day in his life and I'd like to keep it that way. He just doesn't need them. Hoof boots provide all the temporary traction/protection he needs.


              • #8
                What about Sole guard?

                I guess that would be harder to tell without asking.


                • #9
                  I would estimate that in my area about 30% of endurance horses wear boots as opposed to shoes.
                  I read on the other thread about boots trapping moisture and changing propioception, but I dont think that those are valid concerns for the vast majority of horses who wear boots. Of course, you have to find the right fit and I am sure that there are horses who dont do well in boots for whatever reason (and definitely horses that need shoes), but by and large, boots work really well for endurance and I'm sure their use will only continue to grow.


                  • #10
                    I don't have good luck with boots for a variety of reasons so just stick with shoes and carry an easyboot in case of shoe loss. My biggest pet peeve with the boots is them coming off during competition.

                    My farrier rides in shoes but for really rocky rides either adds pads or throws the old style easy boots over the shoes. I see lots of booted horses at rides though how many have them over shoes I have no idea. My guess is that may be 30-35% of endurance riders use them in lieu of shoes.

                    I have several friends who compete strictly in boots with no issues. I'm not sure how much $ is saved since a ton of mileage is put on boots and replacements are not inexpensive. I suppose if you do your own trimming or don't put on a ton of miles there could be a cost savings.

                    For me shoes are just easier to manage. I say whatever works then go for it.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by pandorasboxx View Post

                      I have several friends who compete strictly in boots with no issues. I'm not sure how much $ is saved since a ton of mileage is put on boots and replacements are not inexpensive. I suppose if you do your own trimming or don't put on a ton of miles there could be a cost savings.
                      That's a good point Kelly. Boots are not inexpensive and they only last so long. A farrier on another discussion just accused anyone that uses hoof boots in lieu of shoes for financial reasons as not being a suitable horse owner for accepting less than the best in hoof care (which was custom fabricated shoes) but you can't really say that of endurance riders who probably spend as much on boots as one might on shoes due to the high mileage. They are making a conscious choice to put their money into the boots instead of shoes. Trail riding the boots last much longer obviously and a lot of the folks I sell them to just don't want to shoe for the occasional trail ride where they might need hoof protection.

                      I certainly agree that boots are not appropriate for everyone nor everyone horse and each have to decide what is best for themselves.

                      Thanks for the replies!


                      • #12
                        I use EasyBoot Epics on my mare for trail riding. It's not a matter of saving money on boots vs. shoes. It's because she has fantastic feet and has been able to be barefoot her entire life both in the dressage arena, hacking out and on the trail, and at 18 years old now, she has been 100% sound at that! I think that if a horse can be comfortable barefoot, then there's certainly no reason to shoe. I put the boots on her when we go on rocky trails or when we'll be on roads for any length of time (2 - 3 times a month), and other than that she does it all barefoot. My boots obviously last a long time because I'm not putting the miles on them that an endurance horse would.


                        • #13
                          I think that the cost savings is quite substantial for a lot of people because I think a lot of us do much of our conditioning completely barefoot, which means the boots last longer, and a lot of people are trimming on their own now. I have 3 horses- I started trimming myself about 5 years ago. I had to have front shoes put back on my Tb. but the other 2 I still do myself. Anymore, I cant imagine paying a farrier for 3 horses every 6 weeks. Ouch. Thats a lot of money.


                          • #14
                            I don't compete but all I do is trail ride. My horses are all comfortable barefoot but I do have hoof boots. I use the boots when I know I will be riding in rough terrain or if I'm not sure of the terrain. I have one horse who is kind of a sissy about rocks on the trail so he much more comfortable in boots. My pastures have no rocks so I feel there is no need for shoes all the time as I prefer to keep my horses barefoot.

                            As far as the cost savings.....well, it does so happen that I HAVE saved money by keeping my horses barefoot but that's not why they are barefoot. That was just an extra benefit. Yes, the boots are expensive BUT if I paid my farrier to shoe my horse a few times I could pay for a set of boots. Since my horses don't wear the boots all the time a set of boots lasts a long time. A lot longer than shoes.
                            "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                            • #15
                              I don't compete either but do a good amount of trail riding in rocky areas with water crossings.
                              One of my horses has very flat hooves and is tender on gravel. I have him shod. I'm not a big fan of shoes but I'm less of a fan of an uncomfortable horse.
                              I have gone back and forth about boots or shoes. I'm leary about purchasing a set of boots as I know once barefoot, my horse's hooves will change shape and I can't ride him barefoot. I'm quite certain any boots I purchase will be a waste of money if I get them in prime riding weather (now) since I know his hoof is going to change shape. I love riding this horse and my best option is to wait until the dead of winter to fit him for boots.
                              I've decided to go to a flexible horseshoe to allow for contraction and expansion while in a shoe. I'm considering these
                              Ground Control Horseshoes:

                              Happy Hoofwear: