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Using Solar Support and Boots for Endurance and Trail Riding Races

  • Using Solar Support and Boots for Endurance and Trail Riding Races

    by Larkin Greene
    When gearing up for endurance and trail riding season, there is a lot of training and
    preparation that go into it for the rider and horse. Both have to be conditioned to face
    the 25, 50 or 100-mile race that lies ahead of them. Because a horse will be on their
    feet in rocky terrain for long periods of time, it’s important that hooves are properly
    protected, supported and prepared for any possibilities, such as uneven, loose footing,
    stepping on sharps, cuts and hoof impacts.
    Endurance Racing Conditions
    When racking up miles on difficult terrain, horses and riders endure challenging
    conditions. For safety and concern for rider and mount, participants must check in at
    various points along the course where veterinarians and farriers make sure the team is
    in good enough condition to keep going. It’s usually about finishing an event, more than
    winning. The saying, “To Finish is to Win” is well known. While there is certainly a first
    place finisher, an equally impressive award is winning “Best Condition.” This award
    means that the vital stats, fitness and condition of the horse are best among the top ten
    participants who finished the race. In other words, it’s the horse fit enough to continue.
    The ability to connect with the horse, and keep it healthy, calm, and focused are
    immense accomplishments for riders and support crews during exhausting events like
    these. Many riders discover that the mental demands can be as challenging as the
    physical ones. Riders often must ride at night and sometimes find themselves alone on
    a trail, or their horse might want to go faster than they do to keep up with other horses.
    It’s a full body, full mind experience.
    In correlation with a horse’s well being during an endurance competition, the hooves are
    the foundation it all rests upon. If a horse’s feet are not properly protected and they step
    on a sharp rock along the course, the horse can become immediately lame, or the
    lameness can show up a few miles down the trail. With shoes, pads, pour-in urethane
    pads or boots for protection, a horse will be better prepared to face the difficult
    conditions of an endurance or trail riding competition.
    Protecting Hooves for an Endurance Competition
    Most horses in the endurance world are shod with steel or urethane shoes, however,
    recent improvements in both glue-on and strap-on hoof boots, provide riders another
    option for hoof protection.
    One of the limitations of hoof boots has always been fit, especially the short length in
    the heels, and gaps in the fit that allow the boot to shift and possibly come off. Vettec
    adhesives can be used in three different ways to improve the performance of a boot:
    adding adhesive externally to add support where it’s needed, adding a soft urethane
    comfort layer to the inside floor of the boot and filling gaps to create a truly custom fit.
    For a shod horse, products like Equi-Pak and Sole-Guard are also useful. Sole-Guard is
    a popular pick among pour-in pad products for endurance horses because of its
  • durability and ease of application. Sole Guard is commonly used as a fairly thin,
    protective layer and should last through the toughest conditions. Equi-Pak is best when
    added support is needed; it can be injected under a pad, or used as a pad itself since it
    bonds well to the sole and frog.
    When training and preparing a horse for an endurance race, it’s important to have a
    hoof care plan and regimen in place that is consistent and reliable for the conditions
    found on endurance courses. Whether a horse is shod, unshod or booted, solar support
    and pour-in pad materials can provide the support, comfort and durable protection
    needed for these kinds of events. More than ever, veterinarians and farriers have the
    ability to use materials that will not only help maintain hoof function and integrity, but
    also give the horse and rider confidence that the hoof’s sensitive structures will not be
    compromised; one less thing to worry about.