Barefoot Trimming and Booting

I know some you have been already using apps of what ugg boots to buy, but beware also of fake boots. In this article I review the Cavallo Hoof Simple Boot. I think it’s important to write about my experiences because it took a lot of research to figure out how to fit this boot to my quarter horse gelding, Walker, who is currently in transition from shoes to barefoot living. If I had not done the research, I would have ended up with boots that were the wrong size, not to mention ultimately detrimental to Walker’s progress toward a barefoot lifestyle.

Walker’s Barefoot Trimming Situation

Walker is a 4-year-old quarter horse gelding I purchased as a reining prospect. The moment I brought him home I immediately yanked his shoes off. His feet were typical of an overly-bred quarter horse: thin walls, hoof wall separation (giving his toes that lovely long “ski” look), and a thin sole. I figured this was no big deal, as I had had a lot of experience transitioning horses out of shoes. Plus, Walker had only worn shoes for about four months.

I was wrong. Walker, being a Shao Yin personality type (read more about this and other horse personality types on Dr. Madalyn Ward’s Horse Harmony site), was a hot house flower. With every barefoot step he took he winced. He limped. He looked totally pathetic. Worst of all, he was totally unrideable. I live in rough country, where rocks, gravel, and rough terrain abound. Walker, in total contrast to my mustang mares, could not hack a single step.

I tried to tough out the situation for a couple of months. I tried several different barefoot strategies. I tried taking off less flare with each trimming and using a severe mustang roll. This only caused the hoof wall to separate more. I tried taking off all the flare. Walker, in contrast to his name, could not walk. I tried trimming every few days. No dice. Same with going a long time between trimmings. Ditto with all kinds of hoof paint, iodine, and other remedies. The nutritional aspect, with my home made “horse goo” of mangosteen juice and algae, was helping him grow much better hoof wall, but that was way up at the top of his hoof. In the meantime, he was trying to walk on the crummy lower portion of his hooves. Ouch!

Cavallo Simple Hoof Boots

I finally broke down and decided that my boy needed some artificial help; I either had to slap shoes back on him (makes me wince) or buy him some boots. Since the boots cost exactly double the cost of a shoe job (about $145), I opted for boots. In my experience they last longer and cost less in the long run.

In the past, I’ve often used Old Macs, especially on my bigger horses. I love the Old Macs and have taken them everywhere, but they are fairly large and clunky. Walker is small (not quite 15 hands) and has slender legs and tiny quarter horse hooves. Instead, I opted for the Cavallo Simple Hoof Boots, which have a much slimmer profile and looked easy to put on and take off.

I got online and researched a bunch of reviews, as well as visiting the Cavallo site for their sizing chart and instructions. According to those instructions, I measured Walker after a fresh trim. Using their sizing chart, Walker was a size 2. I was all ready to hit the “buy” button for a pair of size 2 boots when I decided to read through a few more user reviews. Here’s what I learned based on the user reviews:

1. Order one size smaller boot than the sizing chart suggests

2. If your horse’s hoof has a lot of flare, measure the hoof after a fresh trim in which you take off all the flare

3. These boots stretch with use so buying one size smaller makes sense

4. In order to ensure a better fit, buy a few of the pad inserts in case you need them

5. You want the fit to be snug (with Walker, I put the boot halfway on and then he has to put his full weight on the boot to get his hoof in). With a snug fit you prevent rotation and rubbing (the inserts also help with this)

6. When you first get the boot, wrap a plastic bag around your horse’s hoof and around the boot to try the boots for fit. This prevents the boots from getting dirty and allows you to exchange the boots if necessary

7. Let your horse break the boots in slowly to prevent rubbing and sores (20 minutes the first day, an hour the next, and so forth)

Walker’s Experience with the Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot

Walker loves his Simple Hoof Boots. The first day I put them on and rode him, he literally galloped down our gravel drive. This is the same gravel drive he literally could not limp across barefoot. He wore the boots for a short 20 minute ride the first day, then for a longer hour ride the next day. Over time, we’ve increased the amount of time he wears them.

One day I decided to let him wear the boots all day in his pasture. He was mostly sound in his pasture barefoot, but occasionally he would hit a rough spot and limp. Plus, I noticed that he rarely ran or bucked with Fezzywig, his pasture buddy. I also noticed that he had become quite swaybacked and had been working to remedy that with bodywork. The day he wore his boots all day in pasture, he ran and bucked like a maniac. He also didn’t look as swaybacked. To understand what has happening to his body, I got down on my hands and knees and tried to imitate a sore-footed stance. In that stance, I noticed that I rocked back on my knees and dropped my back down to avoid putting weight on my hands. Hmmm, not exactly rocket science but pretty nifty nonetheless.

Walker now wears his boots all day and has them off at night. We live in a dry climate, the high desert of Colorado, so he can get away with wearing his boots for long stretches without any moisture buildup. This is important since the goal is to develop a hard, dry, tough hoof, and moisture buildup tends to soften the hoof (especially the sole). Depending on where your horse lives most of the time, you may wish to do keep boots on him for many hours at a time, or to just put them on when you are riding him.

Finally, in addition to his new Simple Hoof Boots, Walker loves his extra doses of Simplexity health Omega Sun Algae, which is unparalleled when it comes to building strong hoof wall. We are about four months away from him actually walking on his new hoof wall (you can see a line that separates the old hoof from the new growth), but I can tell that the algae is producing a much thicker and stronger wall. Can’t wait for him to actually be able to walk on it!

I hope this article helps those of you who are considering buying the Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot. It’s a high quality boot and well worth the investment for those who want to transition their horses to barefoot but need a little “help”!

Stephanie Yeh is a zen cowgirl obsessed about horses, healing, natural remedies, herbs, magic, MLM, and more. Check out natural horse care tips, ways to fund your horse obsession, natural health products, and more on her blog ( and order XanGo mangosteen products on her website ([]).

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