Choosing the right boot

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  • Twenty years ago, most protective boots were made of leather,with canvas or felt padding and leather straps.

    Walk into your tack shop today and the range available is mind-boggling. There are all types of materials, colours and sizes. But some common sense will prevent you from splashing out on things you’llnever need.

    As new technology has been applied to protective boots, the thinking behind their use has changed. Boots are now widely preferred to bandages, which can cause problems if they are put on incorrectly.

    However, there are argumentsthat skin becomes soft, sweaty and vulnerable to infection under boots, while some people believe limbs get weaker and horses are less careful about protecting themselves from injury if they wear boots continuously.

    Boots are intended to protect and support the legs when exercising, travelling and, in some cases, when the horse is turned out to graze. They are often needed if the horse has a fault with its action or conformation.

    There are boots for just about every occasion and situation, but it’s worth striking a balance and going for good quality basics to start with.

    Does your horse need boots?

    Check your horse’s action, by watching him walk and trot towards and away from you and from the side. The hind legs should follow the front legs in a straight line without over-reaching.

    Horses that brush the inside of one leg with the opposite hoof may need to wear brushing boots. Fetlock, heel and speedicut boots are a variation on the more general purpose brushingboot.

    In cases where the horse tends to strike into the front legs with the hind hooves, tendon boots with padded backs will protect the lower front leg. If the hooves are striking into the heel, overreach boots are the best option.

    Boots in brief

  • Brushing boots – padded on the inside to protect horses whose legs brush together.
  • Fetlock boots – a shorter version of the brushing boot.
  • Heel boots – protect the area under the fetlock and the point of the fetlock (the ergot). Combined brushing and heel boots are useful.
  • Ring boots – used on horses who move too close behind. Usually, only one boot is used.

  • Yorkshire boots – thick cloth boots fastened with tape, usedon horses whose interference is only slight.
  • Speedicut boots – longer version of the brushing boot.

  • Polo boots – toughened brushing boots that often extend over the pastern and coronet.
  • Overreach boots – bell-shaped boots that fit over the coronet and heel.
  • Travelling boots – all-in-one boots which extend from hock to heel for use when travelling.
  • Knee boots – available in two designs, for exercise or travelling.

    For more horse care advice see this month’s issue of HORSE magazine, or click here to subscribe.

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