Scoot Boot is passionate about the barefoot movement, which is why their hoof boots came into existence. Their lightweight, flexible and durable design provide an experience for your horse that is the closest you can get to natural.
One of the Scoot Boot Co-Founders, Annette Kaitinis had the pleasure to speak with Dr Tomas Teskey, a leading US equine vet and he shared some valuable insights about transitioning to barefoot.
So how did you end up going down the barefoot track?
It got to the point when I was in veterinary practice where case after case was only managed and not healed. We were doing things with founder cases, horses with heel problems and we were just managing them, just smouldering along, letting them getting along the best they could, it was not a fix.
Were they actually shod at the time they were being rehabbed?
Many of them were for the most part, that was what we used. Those were the tools in our toolbox for dealing with these cases, we would use this kind of shoe with this kind of pad, or this kind of wedge. And it’s still taught, it’s a made-up science around how we can manipulate the horse to do what we want it to do.
Where is the nurturing? Where are the basic ingredients that horses need to heal themselves? I can’t heal horses. Horses heal themselves when they have the ingredients they need to heal.
Do you think the reason why horses have navicular is through shoeing?
We can identify the biggest risk factors for developing a disease. And in this case, it’s hoof contraction, this is the foundational problem, truly foundational right, because it’s their feet next to the earth that are becoming diseased.
So unless we give people a different idea, to say ‘hey did you consider’ or even ‘would you consider’ and that foundational perspective is this – you must not confine the feet or the horse.
If you use rigid materials on the horse’s hoof, it confines the foot, it stops it’s normal movements, circulation, sensation, it can’t exfoliate itself, it can’t move and adjust and yield anymore. It’s held rigid. The predictable consequence is atrophy and that leads to navicular problems, there’s only enough space in the rear part of the foot for the circulation and the nerves to enter inside the hoof capsule, and as it shrinks, hoof contraction, it actually impinges on the ends of the navicular bone, causing bone remodelling, but it always causes soft tissue changes first, always. If you think you are going to look for a navicular problem with x-rays, you have missed it because months or years ago, soft tissue changes were happening, the atrophy, the hoof contraction.
That’s why we don’t confine our horses, and we don’t confine their feet. What I want to teach people is how to maximise space in a limited area, how you get horses to move more in one or two acres.
What is the natural movement of the horse, as far as his hoof is concerned?
The soundest horses with the best soft tissue in the back of their foot land appropriately.
If they place their heel to absorb that energy and it distributes through the digital cushion, collateral cartilages, soft tissue, then it’s not such a concussive blow. You can even feel this riding a barefoot horse versus a shod horse, the amount of concussion coming through the body is quite noticeable. The heel first landing sets up the best circulation and the best sensation.
Horses that land toe first are really set up for a devastating progression of disease, including disease with their blood vessels, the bone itself becoming osteoporosis. It turns out it’s very common in horses that land on their toes. Even the bones themselves start to shrink up from a toe landing, so it’s not just the hoof that shrinks but the whole bone and the soft tissue as well. Anything we can do with the terrain, or a boot, or a pad inside of a boot to ask a horse. Invite a horse that’s been toe landing “Hey try your heel now, because I gave you something better to land on”.
What causes a horse to toe land rather than heel land first?
Heel pain caused from lack of tissue, lack of normal resilient concussion absorbing tissue. It doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t feel stable, it doesn’t feel like it will hold. A horse is not going to land on something when they don’t have enough tissue to do so.
What do you see happening in the barefoot movement at the moment, do you see it increasing, do you see more horses barefoot now?
So all we have to do is look at the number of boot designs that have come out in the last 15 years. First we had 2 or 3, and now there’s over 15-20 different kinds of hoofwear for horses. Dynamic hoof wear, because the hoof itself is dynamic. You have to complement the hoof. People are getting that, so yes I think the demand is increasing, because people are like “wow that makes sense, it feels right”.
How do you think you want to protect that hoof? Steel is the wrong material. We have to use something dynamic if we want to protect or add or compliment or nurture the foot, otherwise what is it, its antagonistic.
What is your boot of choice?
Dave sent me some Scoot Boots to try, and I really appreciated that and I put them to a good test.
I have several horses that can go without, but the cool thing about the boots that I tried, out of the all the boot designs, Scoot Boots are very dynamic, they are more bendable, it’s like putting the perfect terrain underneath the horse for every step. How beautiful is that! So now if it’s a rock or mud, it doesn’t matter because every step is your perfect terrain.
What I like about Scoot Boots is that it moulds and it twists. Horses that are just starting off might need a little padding, and they might need to toughen up a little bit. But wow, once you get to that point which doesn’t take long, three to four months coming out of shoes then you are off and running because you have grown a new heel, and you have come to the new size of your foot and developing an arch.
The Scoot Boot conforms to the environment better than most other boots that are very hard plastic bottom and that’s what I like about them. They stay on, they protect the whole sole, the whole edge, and up around the front, that’s protection. There’s nothing protective about a thin metal rim around the periphery of a hoof, it gives the illusion of protection.
If you really want to protect a hoof you need a covering, and you need a covering that dynamic, and that’s where Scoot Boot technology comes in. It’s beautiful.
For more information please see Dr Teskey’s book ‘Insight to Equus: Holistic Veterinary Perspectives on Health and Healing’ or visit his website: