In which Fiddle and I use the tools provided to fit her new boots

True to their word, the good people at EasyCare popped a Fit Kit into the mail to me just before they left to go on vacation for the holidays.

The kit contained five boot shells, and a bunch of very clear instructions.

Out I went this afternoon, to use the kit (and the instructions) to see if I can get a better fit for Fiddle's boots.

Willy got a new camera for Christmas from his dad, so he offered to take some extra photos for me.

He's still new at the whole camera thing, so he wanted some practice...handy, since it's so difficult to juggle a foot, a rasp, and a camera all at once.

Willy and I both took tons of photos and notes so that Tara and Garrett at Easy Care as well as all the hoof geeks reading this (you know who you are) will be able to offer advice.

EDIT: I came back on January 3rd and did even more tweaking, mostly trying to fit a size #1.5 on--this size fit better than I expected on three of her feet. The later tweaks are noted in blue.

The key points in the instructions are

1. the boot must fit snugly
2. the "V" cut at the front of the boot should open up


Left front foot:
I started with the left front foot and worked widdershins because my farrier routinely does it that way and it's opposite from the way Fee learned to do things on the racetrack. Even after three years, she still prefers the old way and needs to practice the other way.

It's been three weeks since Fee's feet got trimmed, so I tidied her feet up a bit with the rasp. The farrier makes this process look a lot easier than it is, but at least this time I only rasped my own hand once.

Okay, well, twice. Ow.

I tried the size #2.5 on this foot, but there was a big gap on the outside with that boot, and the "V" at the front didn't move. Too big.

So, I tried the size #2. This one took a little more wrassling to get it on the foot.

The instructions said that getting the correctly-sized boots on would take effort, so it didn't worry me too much. It was still not as much wrassling as with the old style boots. Also, this boot doesn't have those nasty cables to rip up my hands. I hate those cables, so a boot without them gets a gold star from me!

Still a bit of gap on the outside, but not much. The "V" opened quite a bit more. I don't think I could possibly get a size #1.5 on that foot, so it seems like #2 is the best fit.
Update: Different day, warmer temps (44 degrees today!), and I shoved the size #1.5 on this foot a lot easier than I thought it would happen.

I also taught Fiddle a new trick: I wedge the hoofpick under the boot and tug and say "pull!" She pulls her foot forward, and the boot slorps off in my hand. Neat-o.

Moving on...

The left hind foot:

First, the size #2.5

Again, it was a bit of a struggle to get this thing on, but once it was there and I walked Fiddle around for a minute, I could see that it was too big. The "V" at the front isn't spread at all!
Size #2, only 4 millimeters smaller, seemed much snugger.

Still not a dramatic spread to the "V", but when I walked her around, the boot seemed to hold tightly to her foot.
Update: with quite a bit of wiggling, I got the size #1.5 on this foot as well. More spread to the "V" with the smaller size...still a (small) gap on the inside.

Right hind foot:

I had a daunting struggle to get the size #2 on her foot. Is there enough spread to the "V" on this boot? I'm not sure. Update: the size #1.5 wiggled on with minimal struggles....why? Do these things "relax" as they get broken in? Anyhow, there's a little gap on the inside, but it's much smaller than the gap with the size #2, and the V spread is better. That's good, right?

Last of all, the right front foot:

This foot is different from the others in several ways, probably because this foot is her "forward" foot in the pasture. I could look at a hundred photos of my horse grazing, and probably 99 of them would show her right front foot forward. When she strides out from a halt, her first step is always with this foot.

The hoof tissue on this foot grows faster and flares more than any other foot. The photos show the flare on the outside. To make fitting the boots a little easier, I rasped the flare down a bit.
Fiddle is always curious about rasping. She hopes that it involves a cookie, although it never has. Watch out, Fee, I don't want to rasp your nose!
Because this foot seems broader than the others, I figured that size #2.5 was a good guess.

When I got it on, though, there was a huge gap on the outside. Sigh. That won't work.
Size #2 on this foot

The best fit yet. It was really difficult to get this boot on, but once it was on her foot, it actually looked like the pictures in the Easy Care instruction book. Success!

Update: there was no way that a size #1.5 was going to fit on the right front foot. It truly is bigger than the others.

So, now I need advice and opinions:

Should I take the size #1.5 and try to wrassle it onto those other feet?

Or is a Power Strap needed for this?
Okay, hoof geeks (you know who you are), I need to hear from you!

Update: the size #1.5 fit onto three feet with less struggle than I remember having with the size #2. Why? Her feet haven't changed much in a week--and they certainly didn't grow smaller.

However, the weather was warmer today, which I've noted before makes the boots more pliable. Also, I got smart about the "warm" thing (since the Swamp is just plain cold this time of year) and kept the boots in the house until it was time to put them on Fiddle's feet. So that probably helped.

I also tried a different technique for getting the boots on: I shoved the boot most of the way on, and then walked/trotted a circle on a leadrope. This seemed to move her foot further into the boot. The fitting boots don't have pastern straps--will the straps interfere with putting boots on partway and then walking them on the rest of the way?

Also: do the boots get more pliable from being used? If so, it would be helpful. I hope that the straps don't complicate things, now that I feel more confident about getting the boots on.
I think the best fit is a size #2 for her right front foot, and a size #1.5 for the other three feet. I hope that's right!

Now, it's time to hear from the people at Easy Care: take a look, Tara and Garrett, and tell me what you think!


  1. wow aarene, that looks hard. i have never fit gloves, so i cannot help with them - sorry! i use the bares and maybe i got lucky, but they are so easy to get on and off, and stay on somehow too. (i know, a contradiction!)

    maybe the reason the bares are easy is that they can be adjusted on each side of each boot? that might help you, and there are no wires or pokey parts to hurt yourself.

    fiddle has lovely feet! very impressive for such a wet climate. i would love to take a rasp to her though, to even out and bevel the walls.


  2. I know absolutely nothing about hoof boots - I guess the question I have is do they stretch with use, or not? That sure looks like a lot of work!


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