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Bobby Boyd has long been a team roping veterinary resource. As an Open-caliber header and a vet, plenty of top talent has leaned on Boyd for advice and aid when their good ones went down. 

But when Boyd's 11-year-old mare Dixie developed chronic lameness related to navicular and sesamoiditus, he was left without a solid soundness solution. 

"We put her on Previcox as needed, Legend, Adequan on a routine basis, and twice a year I’d inject her coffin bones with steroids and Legend, and it would get her by," Boyd said. "We tried wedge shoes, padded shoes, all different kinds of shoeing. She’s also really, really thin-souled to the point that I took the hoof knife from the last shoer we had working on her."

So when Boyd read the article "Lessening the Load: The New SoftRiders from Soft Ride Equine Comfort Boots" in The Team Roping Journal last summer, he was intrigued. 

Soft Rider

"I loved the two-part component with the hard shell and the piece of softer urethane," Boyd said. "I called down there, and they weren’t even selling them yet. I was introduced to Soft Ride owner Monty Ruetenik, and he told me all the people who’d been using them, and I knew a bunch of them: Randy Lewis in Abilene, and Patrick Smith, and Joe Stricklin. I visited with all of them, and the Soft Riders really sounded like they could work. Being tender-footed, as soon as she got over the shoeing part, she started walking better in just a few days. Man, I took her off the Legend, off the Adequan, and I just keep her shod with those. She’s as good as she’s been in the last few years."

The SoftRiders work for Dixie, who Boyd rode at this year's BFI, because the center-loaded shoes allow her to break over naturally, taking the pressure off her joints and her navicular bone.

"That hard plastic shoe part is like putting a plate all the way across there so it’s not pounding on her soles," Boyd explained. "She can rotate any direction she wants to, and she gets to put her foots where she’s comfortable—not where a horse shoer thinks she should be comfortable. Horse shoers want her straight, but she needs to stand with her toes out. And the Soft Riders take the suspensory strain off with the little bit of wedge."

"Anything with lack of circulation in the limb is problematic," Ruetenik, who developed the SoftRiders with top vet clinics over the last few years, added. "It comes down to eliminating load on the ligaments and tendons. That's what pulls on the inflamed navicular bone and they're all interconnected. If we bring the load in-bound, it will be helpful. There's a Thoroughbred farm in Lexington that are putting these on their long-yearlings before they start breaking them on the track to eliminate stresses on them. We know it will fix the aged horses, but if we can get it proactive ahead of time, can we eliminate some of the ligament and tendon forces? That also eliminates the drug costs that goes along with these issues, and it will make those drugs be more effective when they need to be used." 

SoftRiders are now available to order through softrideboots.com, and the customer service the company provides means you'll be able to find the exact model to help your horse. For more information, call 855-763-8743.

How SoftRiders Work: 

Enhanced Breakover

The SoftRider is designed to provide enhanced breakover from front to back, thus easing tension on the deep digital flexor tendon.

Performance Athletes Benefit

The SoftRider's patented design benefits performance horses by spreading the load over the entire hoof, not just the perimeter, thus reducing painful leverage on soft tissues.

Nail/Casting Edge

The elevated edge enables a practitioner to temporarily mount the SoftRider with casting tape. It can be also shaped with a rasp for a custom fit and features nail location guide lines.

Laminitis / Protecting the Lamina

The SoftRider's sole allows the foot to roll fore and aft and side to side slightly, enabling laminitic horses to find comfortable footing and increasing mobility.

Neutral Resting Position

The SoftRider's substantial sole provides a comfortable, neutral resting position for the foot.

Center Loading

The SoftRider is a center-loading, accommodative shoe that supports the entire foot and reduces potential injuries to soft tissues.

Shock Absorbing Base Material

The SoftRider's shock absorbing base helps soften the blow of each step for performance horses and older or navicular horses alike.

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