Should You Choose Horse Boots Instead of Shoes?

Last Updated on November 28, 2021

Many horses wear horseshoes to provide traction, support, and correct hoof problems. However, another option is horse boots instead of shoes. Horse boots can be a great alternative to traditional horseshoes as they provide support and traction for the horse.

Many people opt to have their horses go barefoot. Keeping a horse barefoot, with regular hoof trims, can be very beneficial for many horses. However, having boots can be a great option for your horse to protect their feet and provide traction when they work in different environments.

Should You Use Horse Boots for Hooves Instead of Shoes?

Horse hoof boots are an effective way to protect your horse’s hooves while riding. They absorb shock, protect against different types of terrain and provide your horse comfort. They do not interfere with natural shock absorption in the hoof or with blood circulation.  

Hoof boots are most commonly used on the front legs but can be used on the back legs as well. The front legs carry most of the weight load, so they need more support. Wearing hoof boots can help prevent conditions such as abscessing and bruising.

Hoof boots can also work as a substitute if your horse loses a shoe. Some boots can even be used in addition to shoes for extra support. They also work great when transporting horses as added protection.

Using Boots Instead of Shoes for Your Horses

Hoof boots can be a great choice for many horses if you are looking for an alternative from traditional horseshoes. If you decide to make the switch from shoes to boots, you will want to give your horse some time to adjust to wearing boots. Hoof boots are meant to be worn while a horse is being worked and not all the time.

To allow your horse to break into boots, you want to start with 15-20 minutes of wear time, increasing from there. Some horses may need more time to adjust to the boots than others.

Hoof boots are popular choices for trail horses and endurance horses, but they can be used for many different things. Hoof boots are great if you are working your horse on gravel, uneven surfaces, pavement, rocky terrains, and any hard surfaces.

Measuring for a Hoof Boot

When selecting a hoof boot, you want to make sure to measure your horse’s hooves ahead of time to get a proper fitting boot. When measuring for a boot, measure each hoof from the buttress line to the toe and the width of the hoof at the widest part. When measuring from the buttress line to the toe, make sure to not include the heel bulbs, as you will get an inaccurate measurement.

It is important to make sure your hoof boots are properly fitted. An ill-fitting boot may fall off or cause your horse to trip, which may lead to injury.  Make sure to measure each hoof, as they may vary in shape.

To make sure that your boot continues to fit, keep your horse on a regular schedule with the farrier. Horses generally get their feet trimmed every six to eight weeks. If a horse’s hoof has grown too much it will not fit properly in the boot and the boot should not be used until the hoof is trimmed.


Putting Horse Boots On

Most hoof boots slide onto a horse’s hoof and are fastened with Velcro straps. They are generally easy to put on and take off. However, some horses may be more difficult to put boots on than others.

Before using the boots, make sure to thoroughly pick out your horse’s hooves out before putting the boots on. This will ensure that the boot will fit comfortably on the horse’s hoof.

Benefits of Using Horse Boots

Using hoof boots instead of shoes, or even in addition to shoes, can have many benefits. Though they may seem expensive at first, they will pay off as having shoes on your horse can be expensive. Hoof boots are only used when working a horse, so they are able to be long-lasting.

Hoof boots are durable and are able to hold up in tough conditions. They help provide shock absorption while not interfering with a horse’s natural shock absorption. They provide beneficial traction, just like a horseshoe does.


If you choose to use hoof boots instead of horseshoes, there is less of a chance of your horse getting cracks in its hoof wall, as cracks are generally caused by nails. They provide many of the same benefits that horseshoes do and give the ability to allow your horse to be barefoot.

Hoof boots can also provide relief to horses that have laminitis and navicular disease. The cushion in hoof boots provides comfort and relief from a concussion.

Deciding on a Hoof Boot

If you are unsure if having your horse go barefoot and using boots is a better option than using shoes, you can ask your farrier. Some horses benefit more from wearing shoes than being barefoot. Whereas some horses do great barefoot with using boots while being worked.

There are different options available for hoot boots. Each boot is designed to benefit horses while they work. They provide leg and hoof support that help your horse stay sound. Some hoof boots even have studs to provide extra traction.

If you show, you will want to check the rules, as not all organizations allow hoof boots. However, as hoof boots begin to become more popular, they are being more accepted in competitions.

Using Hoof Boots

Hoof boots can be a great choice if you are wanting to have your horse barefoot but still want to give them protection while they work. Hoof boots provide great comfort, traction, and support for horses. They are durable and hold up in tough conditions.

They can provide many of the same benefits of horseshoes without the worry of any injuries that can happen from horseshoes, such as those from pulled shoes. They are a great option as you only use them when needed, allowing them to last a long time.

Please comment if you have any questions on this article or have any remarks regarding this post!


What are horse boots good for?

Horse boots are traditionally used for horse training. They are worn on the horse's legs during horseback riding lessons, trail rides, horse shows, horse competitions, or any other time that a rider wants to take their horse out for exercise.
Horse boots are usually made of either leather or neoprene, which are both durable materials. They are similar to horse leg wraps in the way how they both protect the legs of horses but boots offer a slightly better level of protection from horse kicks because they completely encase the horse's legs.

When is better to use horse shoes instead of horse boots?

Horse shoes are typically used in horse riding disciplines that do not involve a rider's legs being close to the horse's legs. For example, in a discipline such as eventing, show jumping, or in-hand classes, a rider has more freedom of movement in the saddle and it is unnecessary to use boots because there is less danger of being kicked by the horse.
While boots add extra protection to the legs, they also add extra weight and bulkiness to a horse's leg which can make it harder for a horse to manoeuvre through obstacles during classes such as dressage competitions. Horse shoes are better in this case because they help give horses more movement while also providing adequate protection.

What is a good horse boot?

The ideal horse boot is one that has a tread that is good for solid surfaces but also absorbs shock. The horse boot should have a lightweight yet sturdy design that will not interfere with the horse's natural movement. The horse boot should be able to protect the horse from being kicked but also not come loose if it is attached securely.
If possible, use horse boots that are specific for your horse breed or type. These horse boots should be used only on hard ground and not around the horse's stable. This will help to keep them in good condition for longer.
If you choose to use horse boots, ensure that they are properly fitted and well checked every three days. This will allow you to fit them as tightly as possible without causing any damage.

Can a horse wear boots all the time?

You do not want your horse to constantly wear horse boots, as doing so can weaken hoof walls, causing the horse boots to come off more easily.
In the horse's natural habitat, its hooves wear down as it walks or runs on hard surfaces. Without an activity to wear those hooves down, the horse's hooves will grow too long and horse boots won't fit properly any more.
The horse boots should be used only during specific times, too. For example, horse owners may want to use horse boots if they are training their horse for a big show or event, but he will need his horse boot time to taper off as that event gets closer.
The horse boot should not be used on soft terrain, either. If you are riding your horse on softer surfaces like sand or grass, horse boots will wear down very quickly and provide no protection for your horse's feet. Also, boots should not be used when horse owners want to allow their horse's legs and hooves to fully dry after a bath or wet work.