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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.