Updated: Sep 2, 2022
"Please make Flex Boots for narrow hooves!"
This is something that we hear quite regularly. It's understandable that people request narrow boots from us, as there are some narrow boots available in the market. But here at Flex Boots, our thinking is a bit different...
When people ask us about narrow boots, we always remind them that the current boot design from sizes 80 to 140 is already 10mm narrower than long. And with pads, many horses with even narrower hooves than that are successfully using Flex Boots (as always, the key is that the hooves are trimmed correctly, and the horse is balanced in its body, thus moving and using its feet in a balanced way). (Photo of size 150 and 80)
Our boots are designed from the healthy horse-viewpoint
Flex Boots are designed to support healthy hoof anatomy and biomechanics. Because it’s impossible to create boots to fit every hoof shape under the sun, our goal was to create a hoof boot for a healthy hoof shape. The Flex Boot design ties in with our desire to educate and guide horse owners to care for their own horse’s hooves, and in this way improve the horse’s holistic wellbeing.
This all started back in 2003, when we started to trim our own horses’ hooves. We studied barefoot horse care and hoof trimming extensively for years and years, and trimmed hundreds, if not thousands of horses professionally and gave the owners guidance about what they can do to promote their horse’s hoof health between our visits.
Then the desire to educate evolved into one day practical trimming workshops, which we ran from our home farm in southern Finland. When the demand for these workshops grew to unmanageable proportions, we created an online course that people anywhere in Finland could take part in (and nowadays it's also available in English, see details here!). And along this journey, the idea to design and manufacture a hoof boot that promotes holistic horse health, was born.
So, we were hoof care professionals to begin with, and the boots came as a natural progression from there. That enabled us to create a hoof boot design that supports holistic horse health.
From our extensive research and experience, we know that for most horses with very narrow hooves, that hoof shape is actually created by incorrect trimming, and it's not the anatomically correct hoof shape for the horse. And hence, it can be corrected by changing the way the hooves are trimmed. So we want to encourage owners to learn about the importance of a correct trim, and in this way help their horses achieve better hoof health. That way, the horse benefits the most. And subsequently, Flex Boots will fit the hooves well.
Below is an example of a so called narrow hoof, and how it changed shape thanks to anatomically correct trimming methods. Note that it didn't take years to achieve this, but instead a few trims. When the hoof is trimmed correctly, it's realistic and very possible to achieve very big improvements even with just one trim.
The below photo shows how the hoof has changed in 9 months, from a narrow hoof with underrun heels, to a balanced, much rounder hoof where the toe and heels are anatomically in a much healthier place.
Notice how in both examples above, the heels and breakover point have moved much further back, to where they're supposed to be.
We stand by our knowledge and expertise
From the very beginning, our aim has been clear and it’s not something that we are willing to compromise on: a horse must be viewed as a whole – its entire way of living, being and moving affects its hooves, and its hooves affect its whole body. We refuse to create a product that masks the negative effects of a hoof trim that doesn’t promote the horse’s holistic wellbeing. Although narrow hooves are abundant, most of them are not meant to be narrow. And if we created a slim version of Flex Boots, we would enable these incorrect trimming habits to continue - and ultimately, that is detrimental to the horses.
So, we are not actively looking to create boots that are any narrower than the current design, because the market for truly, genuinely narrow feet is much smaller than people might think. If you're not sure if your horse's narrow feet are the result of poor trimming or just how they are meant to be, please feel free to email us photos, and we are more than happy to advise you! Details of what photos we need, and how to email them to us, can be found on our Fit & Size page.
What about modifying the boots so they fit my horse's narrow feet?
Every so often we encounter people who want to modify Flex Boots in various ways, but our answer to these enquiries is always the same: when the horse’s hooves are trimmed according to its anatomy, and the horse’s muscles and body are developed with appropriate training to enable it to carry a rider correctly, then Flex Boots will work brilliantly on almost every horse! When the horse is cared for holistically and correctly, boot modifications are not necessary.
Jiri with his horse Axel and Satu with her horse Ranger
If you'd like to learn more about holistic hoof care, please check out our online courses at Holistic Hoof Care for Horse Owners!