Updated: Jul 13
In our previous blog, we talked about the new Flex Boot WIDE, why we designed a wide boot and answered some common questions regarding the new boot style. You can read that blog post here. In this post, we discuss the fit of the Flex Boot WIDE on different types of hooves, and how you can determine which boot style is better for your horse.
The new WIDE boots differ from the original standard boots in the sole shape and angle of the boot wall. The wide boot sole measures equal in length and width, as opposed to the standard boot which is 10mm longer than wide and is therefore a slightly oval shape. And the wide boot shells are slightly straighter than the standard boots, because naturally round hooves also tend to be a little bit more upright. The photos below shows the difference in the sole shape and angle of the boots.
What kinds of hooves are the Flex Boot WIDE made for?
It would be easy to just say that the wide boots suit all hooves that are round. But fitting the boots well is not quite as simple as that, because there are an infinite number of hoof shapes and foot sizes, and a hoof is a three-dimensional object that is not static, but flexes and moves as the horse moves. So the topic of good fit warrants a bit more consideration, and just the shape and size of the sole cannot be solely relied on to determine a good boot fit.
First, let's look at some good examples of healthy, naturally round hooves, and how the boots fit these hooves.
Naturally round hooves with compact, healthy heel bulbs
When a hoof is well trimmed, naturally round (or naturally wider than long), and has fairly compact heel bulbs, it's quite easy to determine that Flex Boot WIDE are the ideal boots for the hooves.
Below is an example of a wider than long hoof which is suitable for the wide boots. There is no flare, so the hoof is anatomically in its correct shape.
Below is a photo of the standard Flex Boot on this hoof. The oval shaped boot fits the hoof well on the sides, but there is space at the back of the boot. It’s good to note that such a boot, used with a pad to take up the extra space, can still perform well, as it has for this horse.
Here is a photo of another foot that is anatomically round with no flare. This hoof measures the same in length and width.
Round hooves with underrun heels
A hoof may be naturally round, but the heel bulb shape and position needs to also be taken into consideration when determining good boot fit.
The next photo shows a hoof that is round in measurements, but has underrun heels. Sometimes this makes the hoof a more oval shape for boot fitting purposes, since the heel bulbs have to fit into the boot shell. It’s best to use fitting shells in such cases to determine which boot style is the best option. If the heel bulbs do not fit into the shell, the TPU gaiter will not fit correctly either.
Below is the same hoof in a standard boot. There is space at the back which can be taken up by a pad, and the boot can and does, still work well because the horse moves in a balanced way and does not over-reach.
And next we see the same hoof in a wide boot, which creates a nice snug fit. Pads may not fit into a boot this snug.
Difference between a round hoof and a flared hoof
It’s very important to determine if the hoof is anatomically round, or if it’s flared. Many hooves that seem wide or wider than long, are actually flared. This is a trimming and/or diet issue and we should not use a wide boot to cover up the problem.
Below are some examples of flares. When the hoof wall changes its growing angle at any point below the coronet band, the wall is flared. This can be at the toe (front hoof wall) or on one side, or both sides of the hoof. Below are two examples of flare on the side of the hoof.
From the bottom of the hoof, we can identify a flare because the hoof wall doesn't follow the shape of the sole closely, and looks a lot wider than it should, as shown below.
Will Flex Boot WIDE fit horses with steep hoof angles?
Although the new wide boot version is slightly more upright than our standard boots, the difference is not major. Therefore the boots may not suit horses with very steep dorsal wall angles, such as horses with club foot.
Choosing the right boot with confidence
It is also not uncommon to be able to choose between a few different sized/shaped boots for one horse. For example if pads are required, a very snug fit may not allow for this. So it's completely understandable that you might feel a bit overwhelmed about deciding what is the best boot for your horse. (But do keep in mind that Flex Boots usually work better if they are a bit too loose, rather than being too tight.)
The best way to find out is by using fitting shells, and either consulting with your nearest Flex Boot retailer, or emailing hoof photos and measurements to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have created clear instructions for taking good hoof photos, all explained in this blog post: https://www.flexhoofboots.com/post/how-to-take-hoof-photos
If you'd like to learn more about hoof health and how to recognise an unhealthy hoof, come join our Read Your Horse's Hoof online course!