Expert advice from HORSE Magazine on choosing the correct leg protection for your horse to wear on endurance rides
Q: I entered a 25-mile fun ride after spending about three months getting my 16hh Thoroughbred gelding fit. My horse was not wearing any boots or bandages during the ride, but I noticed that a lot of other horses were.
Would you recommend any specific boots for endurance or is it okay to go without?
Endurance rider Sally Hall replies: Some horses, often ones which move too close in front or behind, will require boots to protect them from brushing or striking themselves. However, if your horse doesn’t need boots, don’t use them.If you do feel your horse’s legs need protection, you have two main choices:
Boots I tend to use leather brushing boots or fetlock boots with a rubber lining. I like the buckle straps that they usually have and I can wash them off at vet gates and then put Vaseline on the inside of the boots and the horse’s legs to help prevent any rubbing. I have found this to be very successful. Sheepskin lining in boots tends to get too wet and muddy and therefore becomes heavier on the horse’s legs and more likely to rub.
Neoprene boots with Velcro fastenings are used a lot. Although they are easy to clean and stay soft, I am rather old fashioned and cautious about Velcro fastenings as they can slip, especially in deep going. I don’t like using tape to secure them as I feel it doesn’t give enough as the horse’s legs move.
Bandages I personally would not recommend bandages for endurance as, unless they are very well put on, they can quite easily slip and may cause further problems and even damage to the horse’s legs. If exercise bandages have to be used, I’d use the Vetrap type that sticks to itself. However, be careful it does not restrict your horse’s leg movement.
Always use gamgee underneath bandages – I prefer to sew them end to end rather than use tape to secure them.
As you progress to longer endurance rides, you’ll find you have experts on hand to replace bandages at the vet gates.Overreach boots can turn over or get pulled off in deep going so again, only use them if your horse has a tendency to strike himself from behind.
There are so many different types of boots and bandages on the market now, but I feel we must remember that, unlike other disciplines, we have to ride in all types of going so the less tack there is to cause problems the better – if your horse doesn’t require boots, then don’t use any.
Read endurance ride reports: