I have a horse who has had laminitis in the past, and has very sensitive feet. Straight after a hoof trim she is too sensitive to ride without shoes. A couple of weeks after a trim, she is right to ride on our paddocks except in summer when our high clay soil becomes rock hard. I ride around 3-4 times a week about 10km per ride. It costs around $70 to get a set of traditional horse shoes fitted by a farrier, which need to be replaced every 6 weeks or so. So about 7 years ago, I was looking for a cost-effective alternative when I became aware of the Old Mac boots by Easy Care, (which have now been updated to New Mac boots)
I looked up all the information, and found they were invented by an Australian – a big plus for me, as I like to support Aussies. I also discovered a lot of information about the problems caused by traditional metal horse shoes which can be damaging for a healthy hoof, let alone a hoof that is already compromised by laminitis.
So I decided I would give the boots a go, and if they lasted me a year, I would still be way ahead financially. Well they lasted me 7 years, and I decided to buy another pair last month, because although the actual tread and boots did not wear out, the strapping did, and I wasn’t prepared to risk the nick in the strapping becoming totally worn through, and I felt I had definitely got my money’s worth. Now the old macs have been updated with New Macs but I was able to buy some old stock and got the identical pair again.
When i bought my first pair, I went to my local saddlery who just happened to have the size boots I needed. I had measured my horse's feet, and checked the chart, so i knew what size i needed. The chart was spot on, and i strongly recommend you measure straight after a trim as the manufacturer instructs you to do. The pair i bought fitted two of my horses, although only one horse needed them.
I found that one horse did get some chafing around the pastern on one leg, whilst the other horse did not. At the time I thought the pastern wraps or gators (which came with the boots) would be too much trouble so I didn’t bother with those and threw them out. I now believe the gators would have helped that horse with the chafing. I only need front shoes, as my horse only has sensitive laminae in the front soles and I ride mostly on pastured ground. These boots are sold in pairs.
This time around,I have been using the gators/pastern wraps that came with the boots, and they seem to have stopped some of the looseness that I had experienced in one boot, and there has been no chafing. The gators also keep out a lot of the grass as I ride in long pasture areas.
The manufacturer says the boots are only suitable for 25 miles per week, which is roughly what I do, and for my purposes they are fine.
So, for me, the pros and cons are:
Provide cushioning for laminitic horses
Protect the integrity of the hoof wall
Can be used on multiple horses where nailed shoes cannot
Only need to be used when riding
A wide range of styles for various uses
Quick and easy to put on
Can buy different sizes for each hoof if needed
Only fit for a couple of weeks after a trim
Exact fit may be difficult
Can be clunky
Mice can chew through them if left out
Gators add a bit more time to put on
As a basic horse owner who likes to go trail riding a few times a week, these are ideal. There are other boots out there that are made for other purposes, and i would suggest you be guided by the makers of the various brands of boots, as to what boots will suit your specific needs. Just as you wouldn't wear high heels in a marathon, you would wear running shoes fitted for the purpose. So too, with your horse shoes/boots. Buy boots matched to what you are doing.
Boots can be bought from a multitude of places, probably the easiest for most people would be Amazon