Barefoot hooves and hoof boots – could your horse benefit?


Just because your horse is barefoot doesn’t mean he will never need hoof protection. Not every horse is blessed with wonderful and sturdy hooves to survive in the tundra. The process of breeding and domestication takes a toll on some of our horse’s hooves. Some horses can be barefoot with some help – like a hoof boot! There are many factors to consider when deciding how to protect your horse’s barefoot feet – and number one is his comfort.


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Other things to consider about hoof boots


  • Genetics – are his feet strong and sturdy, or thin-walled and easily cracked?


  • Footing – Kazillion dollar cloud footing or rocky terrain up some trails?


  • Trimming cycle – the day after a trim may not be the day to go hacking on the gravel paths.


farrier rasping the hoof wall

Regular farrier care is essential for all horses.


  • Weather – if torrential rains are keeping the earth and his feet wet, a switch to dry or hard ground/footing may be a reality check! Frozen ground is also horrible for hooves and can be just as unsafe as rocky ground, leading to accidents and hoof bruises.


  • The unknown – better safe than sorry when at a new show venue, new trail, or new rodeo grounds.


horse wearing hoof boots for exercise

These bad boys take some wrangling to get on, but I know they are not going anywhere. The materials are also easy to wash with the hose and drip dry.


As a general rule, I always have my barefoot horse’s boots with me just in case I need them.


  • For days when we are hacking through the hay fields, I will skip the boots. For days we are trailblazing to places we have never been, he wears the boots.


  • If I’m not sure if he needs them, he wears them. Just in case.


  • I use hoof boots for one big reason – gravel on some of the paths around the barn and farm. He takes shorter steps and is more cautious if he’s not wearing his boots.


  • When he wears the boots, he strides out and actually has more protection from stone bruises than a shod hoof – the sole of his boot has tread and full coverage.


  • In the arena and fields, it doesn’t matter as the footing is high quality, level, and rock-free.


hoof boot sole with traction

Traction galore.



Pick the right hoof boot for your horse


  • Do a LOT of comparison shopping. And make sure if you end up ordering a bunch of boots online that you can have a hassle-free return.


  • Look for boots that will stay put on the hoof even if the upper straps come undone. A proper and tight fit will keep your horse safer. It’s harder to get the buggers on, but you know they are not going anywhere.


  • Look for materials that last, and if possible materials that can be replaced without buying a whole new set of boots.


  • Find boots that are easily cleaned. A hose with a spray nozzle is about as complicated as it should be.


  • Hoof boots should match your horse’s job and should be used according to their intended function. Don’t use padded-up laminitis boots for the horse that is going to be going on the trail.



diaper in hard hoof boot

These boots are great for protection AND keeping packing and diapers in.


  • Monitor the soft tissues around your horse’s hooves for signs of wear, sores, irritation, hair loss, etc. The heel bulbs are especially sensitive to sores, as are the coronary bands.


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03/03/2024 06:02 am GMT
03/04/2024 08:12 am GMT
03/04/2024 08:13 am GMT
Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot for Horses, Size 3, Black

This style is great to protect the hoof, but is not soft and squishy for laminitis cases.

03/03/2024 08:57 pm GMT
EasyCare Glove Hoof Boot

These boots are great for protecting barefoot horses.

03/03/2024 10:52 pm GMT
Silver Bells - Sox For Horses

For hoof protection when equine pastern dermatitis is a risk.

$14.44 ($3.61 / Fl Oz)
03/04/2024 03:43 am GMT


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