Updated: Apr 19
This blog is by Paivi, who tells us about her experience of getting over twisting issues with Flex Boots.
From metal shoes to barefoot
I transitioned from metal shoes to barefoot life about eight years ago with my Arab mare Miina. To begin with, I bought boots that, at that time, seemed ok... looking back at photos of those boots, they were clunky and looked huge on Miina’s dainty Arab legs. The boots functioned just fine, except when they would fly off when any speed work was involved, and they also rubbed her feet, even when used with leg protectors.
Increased speed starts to cause real issues
We had been dabbling in endurance riding for a while and when I wanted to increase our distances and speed, the boots we used back then started to become a real problem. I tried almost every boot out there, but with all of them I had issues with rubbing and twisting, especially in the hind feet. I did manage to find one brand of boots that didn’t twist or rub, but the material was incredibly rigid and hard, so I wasn’t a fan of them. Living in Finland where we have snow for a good 4-5 months of the year, we had an additional problem of large lumps of snow getting stuck on any Velcro on the boots, which caused Miina to start bucking... which in turn made the boots fly off, yet again! We have spent thousands of euros on boots; most people would have given up by now, but not me!
Then we discovered Flex Boots
Eventually, we came across Flex Boots. The same year we started to trial Flex Boots, one of my horses dies and this caused Miina a lot of grief, stress and changes in her life. Before I lost my other horse, we had been using Flex Boots successfully. But shortly after, we started to have issues with the hind feet: Flex Boots would not stay on, even in walk! Miina has a strong twisting movement on her hind legs, and to make things worse we didn’t have an ideal size boots to fit her hinds. However, the one good thing about Flex Boots even then, was that even when they did twist (even all the way around once or twice!) or come off, they never broke.
Flex Boots had suited my other horse really well, so I wanted to try my best to make them work for Miina too. I realised that the boots weren’t the problem here; Miina’s stress reaction, caused by the loss of her herd buddy, was manifesting in her whole body. It made her body incredibly tense and that was causing the twisting movement of her hind legs.
Using boots that were a very tight fit for her didn’t help either; I had to rasp the feet really often to stop them from getting any bigger, otherwise the boots would not fit. But we had trialled so many boots for such a long time, that I was willing to do all the rasping that was necessary, as in all other aspects Flex Boots were working really well for us. That summer, I tried the boots on with ice studs and noticed that that reduced the twisting. This allowed me to swap to a one size larger boots, which fitted her better.
Little by little, we started to get over the stress of losing the other horse, and gradually the boots started to stay on better too. This enabled us to start moving more to relax Miina’s body, and I also did a lot of bodywork on her. Doing all this, I noticed that the twist in her hinds was reducing and Miina was moving a lot better overall. At this point I removed the ice studs and put pads into her boots instead. After these changes, there’s no more twisting and the boots stay on, even in our fast gallops!
We have now used Flex Boots for two years without any problems at all. Flex Boots are soft, they don’t rub her feet, and there’s no Velcro for that pesky snow to get stuck on. On winter time, we use ice studs which give the horses an amazing grip: sometimes Miina does her best ”Arabian horse impressions” and leaps around in all directions, but Flex Boots stay on throughout it all. And when our horses have to wear Flex Boots around the clock because our paddocks are covered in ice, that’s not a problem either; As long as we make sure that the neoprene gaiters are dry and clean, we never get any rubbing, even on delicate Arabian skin.
I’m so happy that I discovered Flex Boots, because all our worry about booting the horses are now over. My three horses all wear Flex Boots, which make a huge positive impact on their holistic wellbeing. And mine too, now that worrying about boots isn’t a thing anymore!