Horses seem to be made of glass. They are injured easily, sometimes under mysterious circumstances, and sometimes for reasons we can’t control. We try our best to keep our horses sound, and use every tool we can to keep them safe. Boots are one of the methods.
Using boots is extremely popular, and boots have been in use for a long time to protect and treat ailments of the lower legs. But recently there has been some concern about their use. A recent study has shown that protective legwear can actually damage a horse’s leg by causing it to overheat during exercise. More research will definitely be needed to se what extend the boots can cause damage to the legs.
This should be deeply concerning to horse owners, and is something to keep in mind before you use boots. Consider carefully if your horse truly needs leg protection or if the boots are for aesthetic purposes. Boot use should be limited only to when the horse truly needs protection.
Keeping that in mind, let’s go over all the different boots you could use on your horse.
Brushing boots are designed to protect the horse’s legs from brushing injuries. Brushing injuries occur when the horse’s legs come into contact with objects such as their other legs, fences, trees, or other horses. Brushing boots are typically made of a soft, flexible material and cover the front of the horse’s lower leg from the knee to the fetlock.
Brushing boots are suitable for general purpose riding and offer a light protection. They are usually inexpensive and easy to use.
Tendon boots are the most common type of horse boot. They are designed to protect the tendons and ligaments of the horse’s lower leg. Tendon boots are typically made of a hard outer shell and a soft inner lining. They are available in both front and hind leg versions.
The front part of the boot is left open for jumping, to allow the horse will feel the jump if they hit it. Although it sounds kind of brutal, it’s actually for safety reasons. If the horse is wearing boots that cover the front, they won’t feel the jump if they hit it, and it can lead to a horse hanging their legs over a jump. A horse that hangs their legs can get caught in a jump and fall.
These kinds of boots can be fairly simple plastic and neoprene to elaborately designed, with leather shells and sheepskin padding.
Polo wraps are a type of horse bandage that is typically made of fleece or other soft, flexible material. They are used to protect the horse’s legs from injury during riding and lunging. Polo wraps can also help to absorb shock and prevent bruises.
Polo wraps, as you might have guessed, were originally used in polo but they’ve found their way to other equestrian disciplines.
They are popular due to their crisp appearance, but offer minimal support or protection. They can also be tough for a novices to apply, and it can take a lot of practice to learn the proper tension and technique. If the horse shows any sign of discomfort, they should be removed immediately as it is easy to damage the horse’s leg. Of all the horse leg boots, polo wraps scored the highest in the amount of heat they generate on the leg. Use with caution.
Overreach Boots or Bell Boots
Overreach boots are designed to protect the horse’s hooves from overreach injuries. These occur when the horse’s hind hoof strikes its own fore hoof, usually if the horse is moving fast, or if they naturally have a big stride. The over reach can cause injuries and pull shoes, but the boots put a barrier between the hooves to prevent it. Overreach boots are typically made of a hard outer shell and a soft inner lining.
Bell boots are functionally the same thing, but are made out of rubber. There are crazy durable ones that are even meant to stay on in the horse’s pasture, but as far as I can tell they go by magic because I have never been able to get one on.
Travel boots are designed to protect the horse’s legs during transportation. They are typically made of a soft, flexible material and cover the entire lower leg. They can help to prevent injuries that can occur during shipping, such as bruises and abrasions.
The boots are much larger than any of the other types of horse protection, extending up past the knees on the front and hocks on the back. It’s a funny feeling for the horses, they like to show it by walking in a hilarious fashion.
Hoof boots are meant to used in place of horseshoes or when your horse needs a shoe temporarily. Riders might use hoof boots for their barefoot horse if they are planning to ride on a rocky trail, or if their horse lost their shoe and needs protection. They are basically sneakers for horses.
Medical boots are designed to provide some kind of healing function to the legs or hoof. They might be filled to soak hooves or the entire leg, have medicine in them, help make a horse with laminitis more comfortable, or they might be for compression or heat therapy.
There are different varieties depending on the horse’s needs, and I would recommend consulting a vet before applying any kind of treatment to your horse’s legs.
Ice boots are designed to apply cold therapy to the horse’s legs. Ice boots are typically made of a flexible material, frozen in the freezer and applied, or they are a covering that can be filled with ice. They can help to reduce inflammation and swelling after an injury.
All horses hate flies, I’m pretty sure it’s a verified fact. These boots just keep the flies off. Theoretically, your horse will stomp their hooves less, which means less impact, less hoof cracking and a happier horse.
I’m also pretty sure horses think these are disposable, as they rip them off, abandon them in the field, or just completely shred them for the fun of it.
Horse boots are valuable tools for preventing injuries as well as treating them. But always keep in mind the overheating concerns, and make sure to avoid overuse. Always check that your horse boots fit property and are in good working order – and if you’re competing, check to make sure boots are allowed!
With thoughtful use, you can keep your horse safe and healthy for years to come.