When we are riding our horses, either at a competition, training at home, or simply out on the trail, it is important to protect our horse’s legs from injury. This can be achieved by placing boots on the lower part of the leg where these injuries are likely to occur. There are several different types of boots that are used to protect different parts of the leg and during certain disciplines.
- Bell Boots – these are boots placed on the front legs that wrap around the top of the hoof and lower part of the pastern and heels. They can protect the front feet from overreach injuries that occur when the toe of the hind foot strikes the back of the front feet. They are more commonly used on cross country or endurance when the horse will be cantering or galloping for long periods of time.
- Brushing Boots – these are boots that are placed on either the front or hind legs, that wrap around and protect the cannon and fetlock areas. They can be made from leather or neoprene and have additional padding that faces inwards, which provides additional protection for soft tissue structures like tendons and ligaments. They also can come in a smaller fetlock shape, which are generally used on the back legs, and only protect the fetlock area.
- Tendon Boots – these are open fronted boots that are worn on the front legs and protect the length of the tendon from below the knee down to the back of the fetlock. These are more commonly used when showjumping and protect the tendon from the hind feet striking the front legs when landing after a jump.
- Cross Country Boots – these are similar in style to brushing boots but have a few additional features. The front boots may have a carbon fibre pad on the back of the boot as further protection for the tendon, whilst the hind boots may have a carbon fibre pad on the front of the boot to protect the cannon bone from hitting a solid obstacle. They may also be made from a lighter, thinner material that features air vents to prevent the leg from overheating during long periods of galloping.
It is important to note that boots are banned in some competitions, as well as some restrictions around what type of boots are allowed to be worn in others, so it is important to check the rules prior to competing.
There are also other types of boots you may use when you are not riding. These may include:
- Travel Boots – these are padded boots that protect the leg from the hoof to over the knee and hock and are used when transporting your horse in a float or truck.
- Ice Boots – these are neoprene boots that have pockets on the inside that you fill with ice and place on the legs, generally used after competitions, heavy work, or injury rehab.
- Hoof Boots – these are solid boots worn on the hoof that protect the sole and frog when your horse may have lost a shoe, is suffering from an abscess or other injury, or when battling laminitis.
Written by Emma H.