As a Scoot Boot stockist, I regularly fit horses for boots. One of the key questions that I ask is where the horse is in the trim cycle as this will greatly impact whether that same boot that fits today will fit next week or next month. My preference is to fit boots early in the trim cycle so that I can readily see and feel the hoof in its smallest state and to fit boots a bit on the snug side where feasible; however, other stockists prefer to fit the horse later in the trim cycle to understand the maximum size of the hoof.
But aside from where the horse is in the trim cycle, the environment can have a great impact on sizing. Two key environmental conditions that can impact sizing is humidity/wetness, as well as cold vs. warm. Let’s discuss both.
Humidity and wetness will cause the hoof to expand. Even if the horse spent the night in a dry stall, the hoof still has some additional moisture, and this means that the hoof will be a tad larger. Conversely, environments that are subject to humid summer conditions translate to a hoof size that will shrink in the winter.
So far as temperature, I learned this lesson the hard way. When the temperature abruptly drops, as when the first cold front of the fall comes through, the hoof size will decrease. I personally was riding an endurance ride and didn’t account for the temperature suddenly dropping below freezing, and for the first time in the nearly two years I’ve been using Scoot Boots, the boot and the hoof weren’t going down the trail as one. I felt and saw the separation, and it was easy enough to find it and put it back on, but I was less than happy with myself because I should have known better.
So, there are three key factors that influence boot fit:
- State of trim cycle
Naturally, the hoof expands and contracts a bit. Horseshoes don’t allow for that expansion and contraction. The good news is that the hooves of barefoot horses, including those wearing boots, are able to vary slightly, but the bad news is that the rider must give a little more thought to addressing these variations.
The Right Fit for Various Conditions
How does the rider compensate for the state of the trim cycle, humidity/wetness, and/or temperature? Just like your shoes may fit differently in the summer vs. winter, Scoot Boots (nor any other boots) likewise don’t always fit the same way on your horse from one day to the next.
The easiest solution is to use the shims where necessary. In my case, I should have thought about the freezing temperatures and quickly inserted shims (truth be known, I had shims with me!). Not only do the shims tighten up the boot fit a little, but the "rubberiness" of the shims also help keep the boots in place. Shims only cost a few dollars, and I highly recommend them (especially now!).
Another option is to purchase an extra pair of boots in the smaller or larger size as necessary to compensate. I have one customer whose horse is a Size 3 and 4 immediately following a trim, but with just a few weeks’ growth, those boots don’t fit. So, she purchased a Size 5 and uses Sizes 4 and 5 later in the trim. This strategy also helps her tackle minor variations in size based on weather.
In summary, don’t expect your Scoot Boots to fit exactly the same as conditions change. In some cases, you may need an extra boot or two, but trying the shims is the least expensive route to adjusting to hoof variations.
Jo Harder is an endurance rider in the Ocala, Florida, area and trims her own Off-the-Track Thoroughbreds. She focuses on completing endurance rides with a happy, healthy horse and having fun!