This article was written by Léa, one of our Flex sponsored riders from France. Her equine partner is Blue, and you can follow their adventures on Instagram at www.instagram.com/bluelling/
When you ask the question “how long do Flex Boots last”, unfortunately the answer – as unhelpful as it may be – is: it depends.
It depends on each horse: his way of moving; his hoof (is there a pathology affecting it? Is it trimmed regularly and correctly?); the type of ground the horse is walking on (concrete, rocks, grass or mud?); the gait, to name a few factors.
I started to use Flex Boots about two years ago, and to be honest, Blue’s hind hooves are not exactly perfect for the boots. He is slightly bull-nosed, with very low and forward-run heels. His conformation is a little splay footed with a narrow base. And if all that wasn’t enough, he also suffered a big abscess on inside of his left hoof, which caused him having to compensate with the other foot.
Keep in mind that hooves evolve, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. This is why it is necessary to regularly check the fit of the boots, and depending on the month, sometimes you need to tweak the adjustments.
On the left is a collage of Blue’s left hind foot from the past two years. On the last photo from 2021, you can see the area where the abscess is growing out. This is four months after it blew out at the top of the hoof capsule at the heel, weakening the back of the foot, including bar and sole.
The below pictures are of the Flex Boot that I used on his left hind leg. You can see that the boot has broken on the medial side. But - we can use the boot even with this break! We have now had this pair of boots for 2.5 years. We walk a lot on various terrains, mainly on concrete and gravel. This boot has seen about 700 km of use until now. That’s a lot of distance covered, I’m quite jealous that my own shoes do not last as long! If we had done more trotting or cantering on gravel, they probably would not have lasted as long. If we had walked only in a forest or on grass, they probably would have lasted longer.
I’ve learnt that some horses wear out the boots at the toe very quickly, especially on the hind leg. That can be caused by different things:
a bad adjustment of the Flex Boot (often not tight enough or the boot is too big)
a horse that does not move properly because of pain (hollow back, a rider who pulls on the reins, rider too big for the horse, a tired horse, poor saddle fitting…)
a bad trimming or not trimmed often enough
a horse who always “drags” his toe. It is like “square toe feet” that we can see if the horse is barefoot.
This photo on the right is not of my horse, but I want to point out that if you use Flex Hoof Boots with a horse who drags his toes like this, the boots will wear out on the whole front of the boot.
And if your horse has any of the physical issues mentioned above, then boots are not going to fix it – you have to sort out the root of the problem instead. Hoof boots will help if the horse is sensitive, to improve comfort, but it is necessary to do beneficial exercises for the horse, sometimes not to ride him so that he regains muscles, and to have health professionals to help, and all this of course combined with a regular trim.
Here’s another example of a horse that had serious case of laminitis.
The owner first used Flex Boots just when exercising the horse. But she then decided to use the boots 24/7 with pads to help with the laminitis recovery. The picture below with the Flex Boots on was taken in December 2020, when the hoof looked like the one in the top photo; the long toe explains the gap in the boot fit near the coronary band.
Long story short, unfortunately the horse has had other health problems too, like abscesses, so he has had to wear the boots every single day, for a whole year now. The owner has had to replace some parts, such as rivets and some neoprene gaiters because the horse has fun tearing them (you can put bell boots on to avoid this problem), but other than that the Flex Boots are lasting really well!
The foot has changed a lot, and the boot has changed shape because it has adapted at the hoof. Nowadays, the horse is doing better and his feet are returning to “normal” again. Strangely, the boot still fits, and shows no signs of wear! In the photo on the right, you can see that there is no gap anymore.
In conclusion, Flex Boots will sometimes wear out unevenly or unusually quickly. This is not a problem or fault with the boot, but is actually highlighting problems that the horse may have because of trimming, or a problem in the body, pain or other things that are not right with the horse. A perfectly symmetrical horse does not exist, and Flex Hoof Boots will work very well for horses with minor problems (or even sometimes major ones, like the laminitis and bull-nose issues mentioned above). Just be aware that if your horse has issues, the boots may not last as long. But it is up to us, humans, to take care of our horses, and to try to find solutions so that our horses are happy and healthy.
Have fun with your horse!
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