What Boots Should My Horse Wear?
Protecting your horse's legs is essential if you want to keep him fit and happy. Boots serve to prevent injuries during competition, and stop recurring injuries in those horses with a less-than-perfect form. However, choosing the right boots for your horse can be a real challenge. A visit to the tack shop will see you faced with a huge array of boots. It's not always easy to know which should be used to protect your horse.
Knowing which boots are which and when they're most useful is vital before you consider making a purchase. Bear in mind that they don't just exist to make your horse look good – they offer essential protection!
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="512"] A set of brushing boots and overreach boots[/caption]
Brushing boots protect the inside of your horse's legs from the opposite hoof knocking into the lower leg and the fetlock. They run from under the knee and down the inside of the leg, covering the fetlock. These boots are multi-purpose and are used for schooling, hacking and competition (if allowed in the rules).
Tendon boots are only used on the front legs and serve to protect the tendon on the back of the legs. They're most commonly used in show jumping, where the hind legs sometimes catch the tendon upon landing. The fronts of these boots are open, which means that a horse won't knock poles down with the front of their cannon bone as they pick up their forelegs. Tendon boots run from just under the knee, also protecting the fetlock.
Over reach boots
These boots are very useful in competition, helping to prevent injuries in younger horses and those horses with short backs. They protect a horse's heels from being clipped by the back hooves, soaking up the impact and stopping grazes and cuts. Over reach boots are frequently combined with tendon boots, particularly in jumping competitions, or brushing boots when schooling.
You can often see fetlock boots being used with tendon boots in show jumping classes. Covering the inside of the fetlock, they absorb the impact of fetlocks knocked in the air or upon landing. These boots are a lot smaller than tendon boots, so it's important to check that they're secure before the beginning of a class.
Knee and hock boots
Knee and hock boots are hard and protective and are used mainly for travelling. The knee boots work by protecting the front of the knee, absorbing knocks whilst the horse is the trailer or horsebox. The hock boots cover the back of the hock (often with a felt or wool covering the sides of the joint). These boots are particularly useful if your horse likes to roll around in the stable, as they can prevent cuts and grazes.
Travelling boots have become a lot easier to use in recent years. Once upon a time, you'd need to put your horse in a combination of knee and hock boots and bandages. These days, it's possible to buy boots which cover the horse’s legs from the knee to the coronet, or the hock to coronet on the back legs. Travelling boots are often quilted for comfort and have Velcro closures.