Unequivocally, with my whole heart: the best boot for your horse is the boot that stays on your horse that you are mentally and physically prepared to deal with.
I know. You were hoping for one brand, the It Item, the single answer that would take away some of the endlessly appearing question marks on this endurance trail called horse ownership. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, horses are fantastically non linear and endurance is full of grey areas.😀
I did my first distance ride at 14 on my fully shod Appendix mare; I was fortunate enough to live in an endurance-heavy area and my first farrier is still shoeing at the local AERC ride to this day. I continued with a blissful lack of hoof knowledge, using steel shoes, until 2011 when I bought a barefoot and pregnant Arabian mare from Global Endurance Training Center in Utah.
I hired a barefoot trimmer so that I could keep the mare as she had been and raise the foal barefoot and quickly realized that rapidly growing barefoot hooves + getting more horses = time to learn how to trim. My trimmer kindly taught me the basics and I took over my horse’s feet by 2012; I spent 2012 trying to keep Easyboot Gloves on my torquey, fast moving, ground pounder mare, then found sweet relief in Renegade Hoof Boots in 2013.
I became an official Renegade dealer in January of 2015 and enjoyed doing it but after 2 years it became clear that the competition between hoof boot companies was resulting in their desire for me to only use/talk about their products. While that is understandable from a business perspective, my gelding Kenny was busy refusing to wear Renegades (and everything, mostly) and I was perfectly willing to talk about it.
It being this: every horse is different. Every leg, every hoof, on that horse can be different. Of course there are cookie cutter horses out there, that’s where a lot of the big numbers, sales and successful product use, come from–but amongst those there are plenty of Kennys: a narrow built horse, front legs nearly coming out of the same hole, with a crooked foreleg that wings inward and a very deep over stride. Or, zooming out: differently shaped/moving critters have different needs.
A Few Broad Guidelines:
•Renegade Vipers: Round hooves •Renegade Classics: Oval Hooves
–I had great success with Renegades of both models on quite a number of horses. They were easy to use for me and had the best mileage longevity of boots that I tried. They are the heaviest hoof boot in my experience & caused interference & forging in Kenny. Tucking the ends of the Velcro through the keepers and adjusting the cables via the toe button can be challenging for some people’s vision and dexterity.
•Easyboot Gloves: If you can athletic tape and cram ’em on, they will probably stay on. That said, if you can “Easy” apply these boots, they won’t. Retention requires a tight fit. These boots fit Kenny’s slimline, non- bulky needs but he still rips gaiters in half due to his over stride. Application requires a deft hand & usually a mallet. Reapplication on trail can be a bear.
•Scoot Boots: Never tried them. Looked like rubbing potential+ more bits to fall apart to me, as do the new Easyboot models. Don’t let my assumptions prevent you from trying anything though!!
The other key component to hoof boot use success is the human involved. Know thyself. Being able is important, being willing perhaps more so.
–Are you willing to keep your horse on a approx. 4 week trim cycle?
Renegades are more forgiving than Gloves here
–Are you willing to touch up trims in between for those nitpicky boots?
Looking at you, Gloves
–Are you willing to factor in potential terrain issues and adjust accordingly?
Water + hills =goodbye strap-on boots. A lot of boot users walk after crossings to hopefully let their boots resettle before taking off. Be patient or consider alternatives like glue-ons (or shoes, or barefoot entirely.)
—Are you willing to do All The Work?
Sure, Sally Successful barely smooshes on her Easyboots and never cleans them and hasn’t ever had an issue–bubble bursting here, your odds of being Sally aren’t that high. Most of us have to try a little and things like proper application, cleaning your boots after use, proper maintenance, every little bit adds up to that sought after sum of keeping something temporarily on relatively rapidly moving feet for long distances over varied terrain.
So what’s my favorite hoof protection product in the end?
The answer is different for every single horse in my herd.
C’ est la vie.
And happy trails, whatever your chosen form of hoof protection!