Updated: Sep 13, 2020
This post is by one of our sponsored riders, endurance rider Jaana Päiväranta from Red Team, Finland.
I have been doing endurance for 16 years now. I started with no particular idea about barefoot movement or boots for barefoot horses, I guess there wasn’t any good boots back then. But my horse happened to be barefoot! And I’m on that road still.
My horses today, 8 y.o shagya-arab KP and 9 y.o Laku, have been training endurance on flex hoof boots for 2 years now. And we are privileged to be part of this amazing Flex Hoof boots team. I’ve been able to have an influence on what me and my horses need from boots, tell our special needs in this sport and I have been heard and product itself has been evolving all this time. This all has resulted my horses performing better than ever. These boots are very comfortable, they are softer than other brands and they adapt better to horses hoof and movement. I can tell the difference from the saddle how my horse moves now and before. We cannot decide what kind of terrain we are going to travel while on competition. That is why I try to condition my horses on all kinds of terrain at home. And one thing we have a lot in Finland is gravel roads. And when there is plenty of loose pebble on top of the road, some of them usually ends up inside the boot on longer rides and especially on higher speed. And that is not good, at all.
I brought up this issue with innovators behind this boot and they had one instant solution to offer: bigger gaiters. So we tried this and it really seems to work! Now gaiter stretches up higher and it sort of hugs horses pastern snugly. At least it seems to work with my horses! And you can see more of those colourful gaiters which is always good in sport of endurance riding.
So we had this small class event last weekend, 53kms and both my horses were on start list. My friend Heidi has been riding with me some time now and she was on startlist with Laku and I was on with KP. According weather forecast it was supposed to rain a little bit. No problem, these boots are made for every weather! And then it ended up raining a lot – throughout whole competition, with thunder and lightning. We had no problems with boots, even when conditions were extremely wet and muddy. Course went along different country roads with bigger gravel and smaller pebbles on top, also some softer ground and slippery grass too. On first loop there was also this bridge. It had been put on the table on beforehand among competitors, as it was THE bridge, no railings and what was most intimidating, it was made of metal sheets so it was really slippery and loud under the hoof. Well, under shod hoof. When our horses stepped on that bridge there was only soft sound from rubber boots. So no problem to overcome this challenge!
After first 34kms there was mandatory stop and rest of 30mins which included vet check and we did check boots in case any rubs or small rocks inside boots but everything looked good. Both horses pulsed down quickly and got nothing but A:s on their vet check card and we were ready to head for last 19kms. In to the rain we went and trotted most of that loop with some light gallop also. So when we were cantering last kilometers towards finishing line with perky horses with healthy hooves, I felt filled with joy to have happy four-legged athletes with us on this sport. In endurance there is this saying “to finish is to win” and it really felt like that!