Measuring Pie for Hoof Boots (Part 2 of the 3 Part Series on Transitioning to Hoof Boots)

We clipped her nails and pulled her shoes. In my recent post “Off With Her Shoes” I wrote about how my wife Julia and I are transitioning her pony Pie from steel shoes to bare feet. In this update, I’ll show you how we trimmed and measured Pie’s feet for hoof boots. But first, to recap, a few pics of Pie having her shoes removed.

Julia pulling Pie’s shoes. Lots of pics and descriptions on how this went right here.
Pie’s left front after after the shoe was pulled. She has a really healthy hoof. Daniel Yoder, who shod her, did a great job.

Barefoot Trimming 101 in Pictures

Now that Pie’s shoes are off, I can trim them so we can measure them up for hoof boots. We’ll use hoof boots on her when she needs more protection, like on gravel roads and rocky trails.

This would be a good time for hoof boots. Here, my mule Polly in her Easy Boot hoof boots on a Texas gravel road. She wore them on her 2,500 mile wagon voyage from Canada to Mexico. She wore no steel shoes underneath her boots. You can stream the Rocky Mountain PBS documentary about her voyage here on Amazon.

Okay. Disclosure time. I am not a farrier or professional hoof trimmer. I’m self taught. I’ve been trimming feet since 2004 and with some tweaks from my vets (Drs Hay and Santos of Tryon Equine Associates in Landrum, North Carolina) have had great results. My go to source is Pete Ramey’s “Making Natural Hoof Care Work for You”.

So now that I’ve got the disclaimer stuff covered let’s move on to some trimming photos.

Trimming and Measuring Pie’s Feet for Hoof Boots

Here are some photos of how I shaped Pies feet and measured them for hoof boots after her shoes were removed. Pie’s feet hadn’t been trimmed in about 2 months so they were ready for a tune up. Not much of one, though. Since it’s winter time, her feet aren’t growing much. Just a bit of shaping was all she needed.

Before and after: Pie’s hoof immediately after the steel shoe was pulled and after I cleaned it lightly with a hoof knife
Pie’s feet were in good shape to begin with so all I do was rasp away some of the flare and roll the toe in the so-called Mustang Roll. The two holes are left over from the horse shoe nails that held on her shoes. They will grow out in a few weeks.
The biggest change I’ve made to Pie’s hoof is remove flair from the sides and roll the toe. I could have smoothed the roll a bit more but got in a hurry. No matter. In a few days, the grass and rock dust in her pen will abrade the angles smooth (see next photo).
This photo was taken a few days later. See how the rasp marks and sharp angles where the hoof meets the ground have been worn away?
Okay, back to trimming the bottom of Pie’s hoof. Not much work needed here. The bottom of Pie’s hoof after leveling and removing flare from the sides. I removed about 1/8″ of material at the heel just so the frog – the triangular structure – and the heel are on the same level. This allows the frog and heel to press evenly on the ground. Note that I have not removed any material from the toe area. After this photo was taken, Pie was able to walk just fine up our gravel driveway, even without hoof boots.
Measuring up Pie’s feet: Yeah, I’m holding the tape measure sorta crooked…
Final measured dimensions: Width: 125mm / Length 135mm

In an ideal world, this is where I would have pulled a pair of 125 by 135 Renegade hoof boots off the shelf and slapped them to Pie’s hoof. No dice. Luckily I had a pair of Scoot boots handy. I tried them on. No luck. They were too tight.

Pie booted up with a Scoot boot. This size fits my mule Polly nicely but is just to small for Pie’s slightly larger hoof.

Luckily I had pair of Renegade hoof boots on hand that were a bit too large but still fit. I put them on Pie’s foot and Julia and I went for a ride.

Our hoof boot collection: they included Renegades, Easy Boots, Cavallos and Scoot boots (not pictured)
On the road with Pie in her too-big shoes: actually, that’s our driveway. Julia is ponying mule Polly.

Next Step: Fitting Pie’s Boots

When Julia and I got home from our ride, I called Renegade Hoof Boots and ordered Pie the size boot she needed. A few days later, they arrived. The length and width were perfect but the heel captivator, the part that goes up over the heel, was too tight. No worries. A few minutes in the shop and I fixed that. That’ll be in the next and final post in this series.

Oh, and the Book

Of course I have to sneak in a plug for the new book I’m writing about my trip from North Carolina to Idaho with mules Brick and Cracker. Right now Julia’s editing a section called the Spaghetti Orgasm. Hmmmm….. Curious? Sign up for the RiverEarth.com newsletter and I’ll give you a heads up when the book’s fit to read.

Links That Might Interest You

In case you’re still up for some more reading, here’s some articles you might enjoy.

  • Off With Her Shoes“, Part 1 of my 3 part series on transitioning from steel shoes to bare feet
  • The Hoof Boot Report where Julia and I went on a 6 week mule ramble with 3 different types of hoof boots.
  • On a Southern Ocean Rock (because as a die hard reader you need to mix up your equine reading with some nautical stuff)

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