After Tristan had his surgery, the debate was between hospital plate and hoof boot. Hospital plates are a special kind of shoe that supports a flat piece of metal that covers the bottom of the hoof. They’re protective and supportive.
However, in those days, Tristan’s hoof was actually open on the front as well (see the foot progression collage for an example of what I mean) and needed protection all around.
The vet clinic recommended these EasyBoots, so I measured away and ordered them. He wore them 24/7 for 8 weeks on both front feet – both shoes were pulled and we wanted to keep them even so there was no compensatory lameness. The first 5 weeks or so were entirely on stall rest, and the remaining three were on limited turnout in a small gravelly area. His RF (the surgery foot) was wrapped 24/7 under the boots.
I ordered two size 4 boots, which were the correct size for him, but had to buy a size 6 from the vet clinic – in the first early weeks, we were wrapping his foot with multiple layers of gauze, vet wrap, and then Elastikon on top of that. Eventually we transitioned down to the 4 on both fronts.
Pros: they were really easy to use, opening up in the right way and sliding on. Sometimes it wouldn’t settle 100% on the hoof but usually asking him to pick his foot up and put it down again fitted the hoof right in. They do exactly what they are advertised to do, and it was rare for me to find even a shaving down inside. He only pulled them off once or twice. They function very much like the SoftRides and are a much better price (usually running about $75 per boot, as opposed to $200 per pair). They are also sturdier than the SoftRides and can be used for limited turnout.
Cons: they are not really for turnout. Wear & tear accelerated significantly when Tris started going out a little bit. The elastic that tightens the top of the boot wore out relatively quickly, but I was pulling it extra tight to try and keep more of an antiseptic environment. The boots weren’t exactly going to fall off, but there was noticeable stretching. The fabric tore a bit in the area where the two pieces come together – you can see it in the bottom left of the photo above. They MUST be worn barefoot – a shoe would have shredded the inside of the boot in short order.
My biggest complaint: those air holes? Did not work AT ALL. His feet were constantly damp. I tried shaking in talc powder to soak it up and that mostly created a paste inside the boots. His soles and frogs were a wreck after 8 weeks, because they were constantly steaming. Thrushy and mushy. I had to do a fair bit of remedial treatment to get them back online after he came out of the boots. He was just standing around his relatively clean stall, too – at no point did these boots EVER come in contact with serious moisture. If he could have spent even a few hours out of them I think that would’ve allowed everything to dry out, but he couldn’t. Better than the alternative of re-infecting the surgical wound, but the moisture was a constant battle.
In conclusion: these do what they say they do, and for a decent price. They are useful if you find yourself in a situation that requires therapeutic booting.