Introducing Flex Boot WIDE for round hooves
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
We now have a wide version of Flex Boots available! FlexBoot WIDE has all the great benefits and features of the standard size boots, but as the name suggest, the new boot is wider. This means that Flex Boots now offer better fit for horses with naturally round hooves.
In this blog post we answer the most common questions about the new wide boot style, so that you understand why we created it and how it fits into our ethos of improving the life of horses and ponies all around the world. Look out for part two of the wide boot blog, where we go into more detail about how you can choose between the standard and wide Flex Boot styles.
Why did we design a wide boot?
We often get asked whether Flex Boots fit horses whose hooves are of equal width and length - so totally round. When we have looked at these customers’ hoof photos, a lot of the time we have discovered that the hooves are actually not round because of the horse’s anatomy. The hoof may appear round, or wider than long, but when examined based on the anatomy of the individual hoof, we have discovered that actually, the hoof is - or should be - narrower than its current shape. Here is an example of one hoof like that.
However, some horses do have naturally round hooves, and this can be the case especially with front hooves. Until now, these horses have had great success using custom Flex Boots, but now we have created an even better option for them.
The product development for Flex Boot WIDE has been going on for a while now - we always test and tweak our designs until we are completely happy with them, so that we know that any new product is beneficial and well-functioning for the horse, and easy for the owner to use. The Flex Boot WIDE is available in three sizes to begin with: 110W, 120W and 130W.
More sizes will be introduced throughout the coming months, with the full size selection estimated to be available by approximately May 2023. It's worth pointing out that because the current, standard size 150 boot is already 5mm wider than the other standard boots, we will not be making a wide version of this size.
What’s the difference between the original, standard Flex Boots and the new wide boots?
The new Flex Boot WIDE design differs from the original, standard Flex Boot in its sole measurements: the wide boots are the same width and length, whereas the standard boots are 10mm longer than wide.
You will recognise the wide boots from the “W” shape embossing on the front of the boot, and the size is also printed on the sides of the boots; the new design says for example “FlexHorse 120W”, with the W indicating that it is a wide design boot.
The new boot also has a slightly steeper shell wall angle.
Below is a size chart for the new wide boot sizes, and a comparison of the standard boot measurements. You'll notice that the length of the boots is the only difference.
Do the same TPU gaiters, neoprene gaiters, back straps and pads fit both boot styles?
Yes, the original Flex TPU gaiter, back strap, neoprene gaiter and other accessories such as ball rivets fit the wide boots too. The wide boots have their own range of Flex pads since the sole shape differs from the standard boots.
A few words about the importance of a good trim – because the wide boot still doesn’t justify a bad trim
To begin with, we were hesitant to create a wide boot because most of the hoof photos we see of so-called wide hooves were actually hooves that were not trimmed according to the individual horse’s anatomy, thus the hoof shape was man-made and detrimental to the horse. We would always prefer that the trim (and any other relevant aspects of the horse’s management) is addressed first, and boots would come as a secondary tool to help the horse be more comfortable.
However, we do also acknowledge that there are horses with accurately trimmed round hooves, so we decided to create the wide boots to accommodate these horses. We must stress that for the horse’s benefit, we urge all horse owners to learn to assess whether their horse’s hooves are round by nature, or for example flared, which increases the hoof width on a hoof that should in fact be a little longer than wide. In our second blog post about the wide boots, we will show you the most common ways of how you can start determining this for your horse or pony.
Does this mean that there will also be a narrow boot coming up?
This is a question that we get asked fairly regularly, so it's worth addressing it now. In short, the answer is 'no'. We have two main reasons for this: 1 - So far, in our 40+ combined years of experience trimming barefoot horses, we have discovered that it is extremely rare to have a hoof that is significantly longer than wide by nature. This means that a hoof that is more than 15mm longer than wide, is such an oblong shape due to the way it has been trimmed, not because it is that horse's natural hoof shape. This is also the case with all the customers' hoof photos we receive where the customer says their horse has narrow hooves; the hooves have been trimmed incorrectly to allow the toes to grow excessively long and heels to collapse, which creates the narrow hoof shape. So, an excessively narrow/long hoof needs a change in the way it is trimmed, not a narrow boot to allow the bad trimming practices to continue. Whilst a very small number of horses may have a naturally narrow hoof, this is such as rare occurrence that manufacturing a separate boot for those horses would not be plausible - especially since the standard Flex Boots can be customised by swapping the TPU gaiter to smaller or larger as necessary, and pads can be used to improve the boot fit. 2 - Our standard boot is already 10mm longer than wide. This is adequate to fit the natural and healthy oval shape of hooves. And again, because Flex Boots can be customised to accommodate larger heels and heel bulbs by swapping the TPU gaiter, neoprene gaiter and back straps to one size larger, a narrow boot design is simply not necessary.
How do I choose between the standard and wide Flex Boots?
A good hoof boot fit is not just about the measurements, but the overall hoof shape and condition affect the decision too. This is why we will have a separate blog post available soon that explains these things in more detail.
In the meanwhile, if you need help determining what style and size Flex Boots are best for your equine partner, please email us hoof photos and measurements to firstname.lastname@example.org. Instructions for taking accurate hoof photos can be found in this blog post.