Promoting soundness from the ground-up. - Hoof Boots versus Shoes
Western Maine Horseshoeing and Trimming - Promoting soundness from the ground-up.
Which to Choose- Horseshoes or Boots

So you answered YES after reading the section titled "Does my horse need shoes".

But which is right for my horse-hoof boots or horseshoes?  Are there any other choices besides these two?  And if I use boots, which ones should I choose?

Great questions to discuss with your farrier. Outlined below are some of the advantages and challenges associated with hoofboots and horseshoes, along with brand comparisons.


  • Protection when you need it, not when you don't.  Removable boots allow hoof to interact naturally with the environment when horse is turned out, while giving protection when they are in-use on gravelly surfaces.
  • Hoof Wall Integrity: No nails means less chance of cracked hoof wall.
  • Safety: Lost or loose metal shoes can cause injury during turnout or riding.
  • Dissipate Concussion:  The plastic boot absorbs concussion, and is kinder on joints and bones.
  • Cost Savings:  Booting horses saves owners the expense of significant farrier bills.  

  • No protection during turn-out.  Boots are not designed for 24-7 use, and horses spend 99% of their time NOT being ridden.  If your horse is landing toe first, he is not growing a healthy hoof and is likely to develop lower limb problems over time.
  • Hassle to put on and take off.  Modern boot styles have come a long way here, and boots like the Renegade are relatively easy to apply and remove.
  • Injury from poorly fitting boots.  Straps and hardware can cause rubbing/abrasion, and a boot that comes loose at speed can cause a wreck.
  • Lost Boots= Money down the drain.  Boots thrown during trail rides can get expensive.

Hoof boots may be a good option for sound horses with excellent natural hoof health who are trimmed every 4-6 weeks and ridden <15 miles per week.

I am a Renegade Boot dealer and offer these boots for sale off my truck. See below for details on the various types of boots to choose from.


Advantages of Horseshoes:
  • Offer 24-7 protection for tender footed or lame horses.
  • Fully customizable for optimal breakover, load-sharing and protection through correct shoe placement, packing and padding options.
  • Variable traction options based on performance needs.
  • Reliable and convenient-  Just tack up and ride.

Disadvantages of Horseshoes
  • Hoof wall integrity: Poorly placed nails can result in hoof cracking.
  • Standing for the farrier: Some horses do not tolerate shoeing well, whether because of pain issues, or lack of training.
  • Concussion: Steel shoes transfer concussion up into joints and bones.
  • Injury- hind shod horses can injure one another in the pasture.  Horseshoes can catch on fencing.  Horses can interfere or over-reach and injure themselves.

Horseshoes are usually the best option for horses who land toe first or who have chronically poor quality hooves or specific lameness issues.  They are also best for sound healthy hooved horses who are ridden >15 miles/week, or who are trimmed on a greater than 8 week schedule.


Aluminum Horseshoes
Advantages: Light weight, moderately durable.  Allow for wider web therapeutic shoes that would be too heavy if made with steel.
Disadvantages: Expensive, cannot typically be reset.

Glue-on shoes
Advantages: No (or fewer) nails!  An excellent choice for horses who need shoes, but who are intolerant of nailing, or whose hoof wall is compromised.  Adhesive is superior to nails for securing shoes. 
Disadvantages: Expensive, and few farriers are trained to apply them.
The variety pictured are an affordable glue-on option that I typically apply with the addition of 1 nail on each branch of the shoe. Shoeing interval for these shoes is 4-6 weeks max.

Composite/Synthetic Shoes
Advantages: Provide all the customization of conventional steel shoes, but with a few additional benefits: 1. Plastic sheds snow better than steel.  2. Plastic absorbs concussion on impact, 3. Slight flex allows hoof capsule to flex in more natural way. Bridge at heel provides excellent caudal support.
Disadvantages: More expensive than steel. Flexibility may compromise hoof wall integrity.



Renegade Boots
This is the boot I carry on my truck and offer for sale to clients. 
Boot has a rotating cuff that attaches to the pastern by velcro straps. For sale to my clients off my truck for $180.

Advantages: Easy to take on and take off. Very durable- all moving parts are replaceable and adjustable.  Fits many hoof sizes very well, and hard to throw.  Snug design moves easily with the horse- not bulky like many boots out there.  

This is the boot I personally use for trail-riding in the off-season.

Disadvantages: One of the most expensive boots out there.  Velcro can get muddy and lose effectiveness.  

For More Information:

Easy Boot Glove
Description: One of several boot styles available from EasyCare.  Glove is designed to fit very snug. For sale online for $140/pair.

Advantages: No velcro or cables to wear out or break.When properly fit, molds very well to horse's hoof with little excess bulk. Very "natural" feeling fit.  Pastern strap helps hold boot in place for trail-riding. Powerstrap can be added to help boot stay on.  

Disadvantages: Users report boot is thrown regularly.  When properly fit, requires rubber mallet to put on, which is a pain for daily riders.

For More Information:

Cavallo Hoof Boot

Description: Trail riding boot. For sale online for $145/pair.Advantages: No cables or moving parts to wear out or get muddy. Fairly easy to put on.

Disadvantages: Boot design best for upright (high heel, short toe) conformations.  Boot may rub heel bulbs and coronary band, especially when dirt invades boot.  Straps difficult to replace when they wear out.

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