What are Fit Kits and how do they work?
We are often asked “What are Fit Kits?”, and “How does a Fit Kit work?”. To help answer these questions we are going to focus on what they are and how they can help find the right hoof boot for your horse or pony. Fit Kits are, without a doubt, invaluable when it comes to deciding on the best size and type of hoof boot.
What is a Fit Kit?
They will vary between manufacturers and retailers, but a Fit Kit is generally made up of some boot ‘shells’ or ‘fitting shells’ that you can sit the hoof in, so you can see and feel how a particular size fits around the hoof. They will be for a particular make of hoof boot only (for example, the Renegade Viper) and so you may need to try more than one Fit Kit, if you are considering more than one make or model of hoof boot. Confusingly, some Fit Kits will cover more than one model by the same manufacturer, whereas others will only cover one model (even if there are other hoof boot models available from the same manufacturer) - I will cover this in more detail below!
Most Fit Kits are only really for use with the horse at a standstill, so they don’t allow you to actually try the boots out, but they give you a pretty good idea of whether a particular size or style of boot is going to work.
Hoof Bootique now offers a "Mixed Fit Kit" which allows you to mix-and-match boot types, so you can have a set put together to suit your horse or pony’s measurements and incorporating a few different boot models and/or manufacturers.
How much are they?
You will be asked to pay a deposit to hire our Fit Kits, but once you have used them and then returned them to us, your deposit will be refunded less a Fit Kit Fee (this varies, depending on the number of shells hired). Details of the deposit required, and Fit Kit Fees to apply, are set out on each of our Fit Kit product pages. Your trimmer or farrier may carry Fit Kits around with them, and if so, you may be able to try them out without paying any deposit or fee.
How do you choose which Fit Kits to try, and in which sizes?
Although using Fit Kits takes a lot of the guess work out of choosing boots, you do still need to measure accurately first to make sure you have the right size shells to try on! Use your measurements to work through the various hoof boots available, to find the type that should suit the size and shape of your horse’s hooves best. Speak to an experienced hoof boot user or get in touch with us, if you aren’t sure. We have a Help page, with various information about how to measure, and how to choose hoof boot style, which may be of use. Once you have decided on the Fit Kit(s) you are going to try, then choose the sizes that seem to match your hoof measurements best, but also the size up and size down, as some boots are fairly generous in sizing whereas other boots may come up a little small.
Are Fit Kits available for all hoof boot types?
No, unfortunately, some hoof boots don’t have Fit Kits available and so the only way to be sure of the sizing for these is to try on an actual boot. You may have access to a used boot, which would be ideal, but if you need to try on a new hoof boot, then do remember to keep it in as-new condition, so that you can return it if necessary! If trying on a brand new hoof boot to check for size, then make sure you have a clean and dry hoof, and that you use a pop-sock or similar on the hoof, and pop a clean towel or similar on the floor, and don’t let the horse move! If trying on a used boot to check the sizing, please be aware that hoof boots will stretch a little with use and so the used boot may be a looser fit than a brand new boot.
There are Fit Kits available for the Renegade Classic and the Renegade Viper (they each have their own Fit Kit, due to different sizing and fit); the Equine Fusion range of boots (the same Fit Kit will cover all boot models, so the Ultra, Ultimate and All Terrain, All Terrain Ultra and Active Jogging Boots but just note that there is a standard width Equine Fusion Fit Kit and also a slim width Equine Fusion Slim Fit Kit); the Cavallo range of boots (as with the Equine Fusion, the Fit Kits cover all Cavallo models apart from the Cute Little Boot and Big Foot Boot (these have their own Fit Kits) but again, please note there is a Regular Sole Fit Kit and a Slim Sole Fit Kit); the Easyboot Glove and the Easyboot Glove Back Country (this is called the Easycare Fit Kit and it covers both boot models, but just note the fit required is slightly different), the Scoot Boots, Floating Boots, Evo Boot and Swiss Galopper. You may find that some trimmers or suppliers have put together their own Fit Kits for some other boot models not mentioned.
How do you use a Fit Kit?
Different boot models fit in different ways, and so you need to understand how to use the particular Fit Kits you have to try on and what to look for in the fit. Some will need to fit very precisely and securely, such as the shells for the Easyboot Glove (the fit doesn’t need to be quite so precise if you are considering the Easyboot Glove Back Country). You can generally walk the horse around in a well-fitting Glove shell and they will stay on securely. Conversely, the Equine Fusion Fitting Shells are basically just a sole plate for your horse to stand on, so you can see how the boot sole fits on the width and length, and your horse can simply step out of these.
If trying on a Fit Kit with your trimmer present, then they should be able to talk through the fit with you, and guide you towards the best type and size. If you have hired your Fit Kit(s) from us, then please do get in touch with us or an experienced hoof boot user, for guidance, if you aren’t sure how to use it.
What if you aren’t sure of the best fit/size? If you don’t feel particularly confident using your Fit Kit(s), and don’t have anyone with experience using boots who can help you, then taking photos of the different shells on can be really helpful so you can email them to us. Make sure you take some photos of the hooves on the ground first (without the boots on) and also photos of the hooves being measured, as knowing the size and shape of the hooves will help us when looking at the photos of the Fit Kit(s) on. Then, when taking photos of the Fit Kit(s) on, take clear photos with each hoof in each Fit Kit shell, with the hooves on the ground and from as many different angles as possible - side view, front view, rear view, looking down from above with the hoof on the ground, and also the sole view (and maybe a few different angles too) with the hoof off the ground (making sure the hoof doesn’t slip in the fitting shell). Make sure you have a spare pair of hands, if taking photos! It it can be useful to try the shells on more than once, as it helps to narrow down the options.
Note - Fit Kits are generally made up of factory seconds or faulty/damaged used boots. They won’t necessarily be the same tread as the boots you are looking for - e.g. Equine Fusion and Floating Boots have different tread options but Fit Kits may be a mix of the different treads. Check with us if you aren’t sure which tread you have in your Fit Kit, or the most suitable for your horse.
One of the best things about using Fit Kits first is that you can try on lots of different sizes and types of boot without worrying about keeping them clean! (Although, please do ensure they are clean and dry before returning them!)
TIPS AND TRICKS
Using Fit Kits and needing our help? Take a video of the Kits being used! Make sure it is fairly close up and that you move around the hooves to show the fit from all angles. Videos are a great way to show how tight a boot is on/off and also, if you can twist the Fit Kit shells from side-to-side. Videos generally work best when used together with still photos.