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Horse Boots or No Horse Boots? - That is the Question

Posted by Sarah Crampton on

Why should your horse wear horse boots? It’s for the same reason riders wear a helmet - for protection! Equestrians will agree that horses can find all sorts of ways to injure themselves, so prevention is a very sound idea. Horse boots and wraps are truly a bargain to avoid costly injuries. 

The injuries to a horse’s legs can occur when a hoof strikes another leg - especially when the horse is shod on all four feet. For example when a horse gallops, extends the trot, lands from a jump, bucks or is just messing around, the hind leg can reach far enough forward that it strikes the heel of a front leg, the back of the pastern, the fetlock, or the tendons. A front hoof can scrape the other front leg, or the hind hoof can interfere with the other one. Jumping and cross country riders have to be extra careful about injuries while galloping and jumping, and also have to protect their horses legs from the jumps themselves.

What to do? Most riders apply horse boots or wraps of some kind. Horse boots have specific designs to prevent specific injuries. Not every horse needs horse boots. However, with exuberant young or old horses, and those that are ridden in all sorts of competitions and are asked to perform athletically, it’s a no-brainer to provide some protection. 

Here are some types of horse boots and what they are designed to do:

Bell boots prevent the hind hoof from striking the heel of the front foot, often referred to as overreaching. Used by all types of riders for all kinds of reasons, you can see the practicality of bell boots for lunging, jumping, dressage, reining, cutting, eventing, turn out, and trailering; basically anytime the horse is in motion. They also can help prevent the horse from pulling a shoe. They are relatively inexpensive and have several options. Fleece lined bell boots have fleece lining on the top ridge to prevent rubbing for sensitive skinned horses. These are available in black or white with easy to use velcro closures. Double Velcro Bell Boots make it a snap to put on and take off, and Pull On Bell Boots are worn mostly by eventers to be sure they don’t come off on the cross country course.

Open Front Tendon Boots are the choice of many jumping and eventing riders. They are designed to allow the horse to feel a rub from the jump itself to encourage a clean jumping effort. More importantly they protect the tendons from injury from a strike from the hind foot upon landing. The Leather Open Front Tendon Boots with buckles are traditional tried and true boots, and can be worn while jumping in competitions, schooling, and in the hunter ring’s equitation classes over fences.

Often combined with the Open Front Tendon Boots or with other sport boots, Fetlocks Boots protect the hind fetlock joints from interference by the other hind leg. Some horses travel fairly close behind and occasionally strike the fetlock with the other hind hoof. These boots, sometimes called brushing boots or ankle boots, are specifically designed to prevent that. 

Polo Wraps can be used without any extra padding underneath. They became the wrap of choice for the sport of polo, but have become popular for many different horse sports. They require the skill to wrap evenly without undue pressure, and can fit every size leg. Used to protect the leg from interference of another leg, or outside blow, like from a polo mallet, and to help support the tendons. Dressage riders love the look of four white polo wraps for everyday work, show warm up, or clinics. 

There is also an endless assortment of splint boots, galloping boots or sport boots. These wrap around the entire cannon bone of the front or hind legs from below the knee or hock and cover the fetlocks as well to prevent injury from one leg interfering with another, and to generally protect the tendons behind the cannon bones. They come in tons of fabrics like neoprene, leather and many other synthetic materials, and can be fastened with buckles, but more often velcro for easy on and off. They are commonly called splint boots to protect the fine splint bone that runs along the inside of the cannon bone. For this reason, the inside of the boots are often double thick, or made of harder material to help protect from a blow from the other hoof.

Trailering your horse for a trail ride, horse show, or moving to another barn? Shipping Boots are great protection, especially for those horses that move around and don’t travel quietly. When loading and unloading your horse, it’s easy to scrape a leg on the ramp or while stepping in and out of the trailer. The Grewal Travel Boots provide protection from those lumps and bumps, and are supportive during the trip. 

Horse lovers are constantly in search of ways to keep their equine partners sound and injury free. With the vast array of horse boots and wraps, you can find something that fits your style of riding and your horse in particular. After working your horse at home or away at competitions,  as an extra precaution, remove your horse boots or wraps, and hose off your horse’s legs with cold water to cool the tendons to help prevent any inflammation.

Horse Boots Polo Wraps

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