When to use Swiss Horse Boots?
Novice and Open level horses are perfectly suited to being ridden in Swiss Horse Boots. The Boots shield heels and soles from sharp stones and reduce concussion. Tarmac, hard man-made Forestry Commission tracks and stoney bridleways are of no concern for riders who use Swiss Horse Boots!
The Boots have excellent grip on tarmac and are much safer than irons when trotting downhill. While care should always be taken to condition your horse slowly, when training in Swiss Horse Boots, you can generally afford to do much more trotting on tarmac than you would in metal shoes, without putting undue strain on the leg tissues.
Swiss Horse Boots have been tested by Long Distance riders on multi-day treks over hundreds of miles, on the harshest terrain, proving invaluable and vastly superior to metal shoes. However, an advanced FEI rider who trains hard with their horse several times a week and competes every few weeks in 1-2 day events over 80-160km, may find it easier to keep their horse in irons at the height of the competition season.
This is not because itís better for the horse, it may simply be logistically easier for the rider who is trying to maintain a highly demanding training schedule. Do make sure, however, that your horse is correctly shod, with wide-enough weight-bearing area around the heel. Too many farriers ruin hooves by shoeing too narrow! Advanced endurance horses can still benefit from wearing Swiss Horse Boots during the conditioning phase.
Dressage horses and Show-jumpers
Most horses working on good schooling surface go well barefoot, provided the owner has established and can maintain a good footcare programme. Such horses will greatly benefit from being turned out barefoot and will enjoy wearing Swiss Horse Boots when hacked out, saving on the cost of shoeing.
Driving horses will go well in Swiss Horse Boots over roads and tracks. However, if asked to perform a dressage test with multiple turns around cones on grass, the boots must be fitted with spikes. For this reason, horses used in competitive driving should have two sets of boots, as spikes, once in, cannot be taken out.
Happy Hackers/Weekend Riders
Horses in light-to-medium work, hacked out a couple of days a week, have no reason to be in irons. With a good footcare programme, such horses are much better off left barefoot in the stable and field, and wearing Swiss Horse Boots when ridden out.
Schooling horses with very sensitive feet
In some circumstances, when a horseís feet had been neglected through inadequate hoofcare and poor diet, the soles can become very sensitive and the horse may be uncomfortable working even on sand surface without hoof protection. Boots can be successfully used when lunging and schooling on sand/rubber. However, normally, this is only a short-term measure, as improved diet and regular trimming should result in marked improvement after 4-6 months.
All of the above in bad weather
When most of us in the UK could not ride for several weeks during the winter of 2009-2010, shod horses still had to be shod, whereas barefoot horsesí owners simply put away their Swiss Horse Boots and didnít have to worry whether the farrierís van would overturn on black ice on the way to the stables!
When not to use boots?
When the horse is turned out
Swiss Horse Boots are not designed for turnout on grassy slopes, as these can be slippery. All horses are best turned out barefoot, unless they are suffering from a serious medical condition, such as laminitis, requiring them to be on box rest with special soft surface. If turning out on very stony, hard ground, it is possible to use the boots, if the feet are very sensitive, especially, if the iron shoes have been removed recently. Remember though that the ultimate aim is to allow the horse to benefit from being turned out barefoot as this will promote blood circulation in the feet and will help to strengthen the hooves.
Swiss Horse Boots are not designed for jumping, especially if extra grip is required when jumping on grass. Although spikes can be fitted into the boots, we have not tested their use for eventers in Britain and therefore cannot recommend their use for cross country. We believe that, with correct footcare, indoor jumpers up to 3ft3 can cope without any foot protection. Outdoor show-jumping and cross-country, especially at higher levels, will normally require the horse to be shod.