Should You Choose Horse Boots Instead of Shoes?

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.

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