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Old Mac's Horse Boots

Old Mac's

Horse Boots, from Old Mac's Boots. RRP $US129.

April 15, 2001

As the old saying goes, "no hoof, no horse". If your horse is in perfect condition, fit and ready to go, you won't be going anywhere if his feet are not sound.

But there are degrees -- perhaps your equine friend might be OK except that he has flat feet, or sensitive feet, or maybe laminitis -- or something more sinister higher up, such as arthritis or shin-soreness. One day he'll be happy to work, the next he won't want to leave the paddock.


Straight sides and long toes. Coupled with a low sole, this is not a great combination. Both hooves were growing at a noticeably different rate.
My own horse, Bill, has several of the above "problems" -- a questionable arthritis diagnosis several years ago, flat footedness, and prone to stumbling. Plus, he's no spring chicken -- 21 to be exact, but most horse people, on seeing him for the first time, see him and presume he's about 10, then read his brands and figure he's 11.

The stumbling problem was not helped by the fact that his front hooves have, in later years, seemed to grow unusually fast, with one growing faster than the other. After being shod for three weeks, you'd swear the shoes had been on for 6-8 weeks. Bill has been shod all his life, and has small feet for a 16.3hh horse -- taking after his thoroughbred grandfather. Most times after shoeing he'd be uncomfortable for a day or two, at times standing with an almost laminitis-like stance.


Bill's low sole meant that he had to be shod to be ridden out.
You might ask -- why bother to shoe him? Well, although there are many grass verges in the area we live, some are unkempt with undulating ground -- not good for a stumbler. And the roads are gravel, not smooth, but with varying sizes of stones. With his flat feet, stumbling, and gummy knees, barefootedness could be a recipe for disaster.

After a serious accident three months ago I thought we were resigned to a gentle plod every once in a while. This would have bored us both rigid.

It was with some anticipation that we tried a pair of Old Mac's Boots. These multi-purpose horse boots, designed in Australia, are intended as a replacement for conventional shoes, so they looked ideal for us, if I was to keep my horse barefooted. As well, the thick sole would provide cushioning on hard surfaces -- not to mention protection from stone bruises.


An Old Mac from above. The webbing strap at the centre of the picture wraps around the lower part of the pastern and attaches with a velcro closure. The cordura cover attaches with heavy-duty velcro at the back of the foot.
These boots are designed by Australian farrier David Macdonald, who obtained his Diploma in Horseshoeing in the United States under equine vet and master farrier Jack Roth.

After the first ride in them I could not believe the difference in Bill -- and I could tell that he felt so much better, too. With the rubber hoof suspension cushioning, my ride was more comfortable, and he actually stretched out at the trot -- something he has not done for years. The Old Mac's have exceeded our expectations of a horse boot. Today, we had a ride for well over an hour -- at all speeds, and mixing up the terrain from hilly, grassy verges to gravel roads, to tar seal, and loose roadside gravel. Despite being unfit he was still full of go at the end. He went better than he has gone for a long time.


Fitted and ready to go. There is nothing difficult about fitting the Old Mac's.
Don't try this at home, but we cantered up an uphill gravel road, and he went like a dream (yes, it was his idea!). He feels back to his old self, and I am confident that he will be able to be ridden for several years yet, thanks to the fantastic cushioning sole of the Old Mac's which will be so much easier on his knees and fetlocks. And keeping him without shoes means I will be able to keep his feet the correct length.

The Old Mac's are easy to fit, and are held in place with a webbing strap around the pastern, a heavy velcro closure around the boot, and a strap at the back.

Billy hits the road!
After our long ride up hill and down dale there was no sign of any rubbing. The boots are made of Du Pont Cordura, a performance fabric which is up to seven times stronger than nylon, polyester, and cotton. They are waterproof, and it's impossible to get them waterlogged, as the heel area is the drainage point.

While the price might appear high compared to a visit from your friendly farrier, one has only to compare it with the cost of five shoeings -- usually up to $60. From my use of the Old Mac's I can see them being invaluable to the likes of weekend riders who get only a few rides from one shoeing; horses whom it is impossible to keep shoes on; horses with low soles; and those prone to jarring problems.

When I read in the literature that these boots would give a horse more confidence, I was sceptical about Bill's chances, but I can say now that he is happier and keener with the Old Mac's.

I wish I'd had these boots years ago, and I'm sure Bill does too.

 

 

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