Soft Ride Boots: the hottest trend in trailering when they hit the market two or three years ago (or less. or more. I lose track of time generally.). "Reducing fatigue, enhancing performance, & helping treat & prevent injuries," these boots promise to pretty much eliminate the need for a vet, trainer, & sleep all at once!
Ok, perhaps I exaggerate a bit for effect, but while the concept of absorbing concussive shock traveling through the trailer frame to the floor & your horse's feet is a good one, marketing, as often occurs, goes a wee smidge over the top.
Note: This post does not apply to use of any kind of boot for veterinary or therapeutic hoof issues which require daily wear. I speak only in the context of booting a trailered horse for comfort. Hopefully, those are obviously different scenarios to be addressed on a case by case basis.
Not to mention, as with all normal things (human shoe inserts or foam cut-outs, anyone), give it a special horsey name & hint that it might knock a few points off your dressage score all while keeping Dobbin sounder, & you can mark up the price by approximately 4000%. So, a gel pad that you stick on your horse's hoof which he will promptly stomp in his own poop can be yours, in a pair even, for around $200.
*pause for personal need to repeat hysterical choking sounds*
|The Epics: great for non-forgers|
Both have had foam inserts for cushioning while riding as well. Although both paid for themselves by replacing horseshoes. And EasyCare has done the same thing as Soft Ride with the EasyBoot Rx hitting you up around $150 a pair, though they avoided some of the grandiose verbage.
I am simply offering an alternative solution for those of us who live down here in the real world (or even worse, my poverty world) where we have to actually CHOOSE which things we spend money on instead of just buy them all. There certainly is value in convenience sometimes, but it doesn't have to be unreachable.
If you are anything like me, every time you feel & hear that 'clunk' of your trailer coming down after a lump or hole, you murmur an apology to your horse that he is never going to get Air-Ride (unless HE comes up with $6,500). But given what I ask my horses to do, I do want to lessen that series of a gazillion impact waves (particularly on VA cheese-grater roads) traveling up through the joints of his fetlocks, hocks, stifles, & back. I just did not have & was not going to throw $200 at it.
|Straight out of the bag|
They also come with their own 1.5" thick EVA foam pad (replaceable for only $7 or you can double up) for cushion & if you want more (I do in VA!), you can add a gel pad (which even smells like odd incense thanks to an infusion of tea tree oil).
All components are reusable; I don't use the gel every time I use the wrap, but it's been on at least four long trips. Want to go hog wild? Mix & match all kinds of thickness & density pads for $14 & just cut to a fit you like.
And at $20 per foot for wrap & foam pad, you can instead spend $80 & come out with TWO pairs (I only outfitted his hind feet for a mere $40). Like any type of hoof boot or wrap, they take a few applications to get used to. But the straps are numbered in the order in which you should attach them (THANK YOU!).
If you make sure the foot is centered & you pull the velcro tight, they even stay put in the trailer. If you like, add a strip of tape (hello, colour coordination!) around the foot for backup.
|With gel pad added. It had an odd aromatherapy...|
And yes, I did observe a marked reduction of stiffness & let-down time coming off the trailer when I use them vs. prior long trips in just horseshoes.