King has been barefoot for his whole life, with the exception of a couple of months when he was four. He has a groove down the outside wall of his left front hoof. It’s from a nasty wire cut that left a deep scar through his coronet band. Mostly the groove is stable and stays closed. But if he hits a rock hard enough and just the wrong way, it will split open. Once it split so badly that the entire outside heel came loose. i thought perhaps shoes would help that. But shoes didn’t work very well for him. He seemed to torque them off regularly. Sometimes within a few hours. Sideclips helped. But in the end it just seemed way too expensive and way too reliant on having a capable farrier somewhere nearby to make it worth doing. So long as I manage the foot carefully, daylighting the groove and taking off any rough edges or chips nearby, the whole thing seems to stay closed and stable. And ripping shoes off that hoof regularly sure does not help it.
So we started using EasyBoots for particularly difficult footing. But boots haven’t always been a perfect solution either. We’ve had two boot incidents that were a bit disastrous. The first was at a ride years ago, when he was admittedly still a complete hooligan. A couple of horses passed us on trail, and he thought racing after them would be an excellent plan. I disagreed. He tried to bolt. I tried to block all that energy. So he went up and kinda sideways. Quite explosively. Then he abruptly tipped over. I smacked my head on the ground when we went down (yep… another smashed helmet… and concussion #2). He jumped up and ran after the horses that had passed him (he does like to have his way). I saw his boots on the ground. Somehow he’d managed to hook one boot up with the cable on the other boot. Literally got his feet tangled up, and that was why he’d fallen down. Trust King to come up with something that convoluted.
The second incident with regular EasyBoots happened just last fall. I tried Gloves instead of the old style boots for the summer, and they worked well. But then, in a fifty, the gaiters rubbed his pasterns very badly. He developed scratches that were still healing by the time Oktoberfest came around. So I went back to the old boots. The trail had a few minor washouts from rain. He got himself going around one corner too fast (okay, I know… I’m supposed to be the one in control here!) and sort of slithered sideways into a washout. He scrambled and bobbled hard. I slowed him up, but he seemed fine and we carried on trotting after a while. We were just a few miles from the end of the loop, and he was going along very well. Then perhaps a mile from the check, I felt a little bob for a few strides. Then it went away. We got into the check, and he was off at the trot out. It was very mild and looked initially like a hind end lameness. But once he stood around a while it became obvious that it was the front left. Then I had a closer look at his boot. All the screws had been ripped out of the inner wall of the boot. He’d apparently stepped on it during that scramble through the washout. And his ankle was swelling a bit too. He was completely sound and all the swelling gone in 24 hours, so luckily it was nothing serious. But it’s obvious to me that this horse really needs a low profile, form-fitting boot that he can’t catch with his other feet.
So. I’ve done some research and have ordered the newer style gaiter. EasyCare is supposed to have improved the gaiters so they don’t rub. Hopefully that will be the case and I can ride him in those for shorter conditioning rides. I also found some suggestions on Chris Martin’s Goober Glue blog that might help fix the gaiter problem. But for actual rides I think we are going to have to go to the Glue On boots. I just hope I can get that all figured out so that they stay on and work for him.
And of course… it just occurred to me that Brooke is riding Dressy this year. Ack!! I have to figure out her feet too now…