Traditionally horses’ legs were protected by bandages; now all sorts of specialised boots are used. Whether you’re out competing every weekend, or a happy hacker, correctly fitted boots will help protect your horse’s legs from knocks and bumps. Performance horses, in particular, will benefit from protection for the tendons and ligaments in their legs, as intense exercise can increase the likelihood of injury.
Brushing boots are great ‘general purpose’ boots that can be worn on all four leg. They are designed to protect the legs from banging together and causing injury, as well as guarding against external knocks. If you are planning to use yours for endurance, hunting or cross-country, make sure you consider how they will stand up to getting wet.
Tendon boots, typically worn on the front legs, are favoured by showjumpers, as they can offer some support as well as protection for the delicate leg structure. Typically tendon boots worn in front are combined with fetlock boots fitted to the fetlocks on the hind legs to protect this area.
Over-reach boots are rubber ‘cups’ that encircle the pastern and fit over the horse’s hooves, preventing the horse from over-reaching — persistently hitting the back of his front pastern/hoof with his back toe. This can be due to conformation, shoeing/foot issues or tiredness, among other things.
Travel boots are light, easy-to-fit boots that designed to protect the whole lower leg including the knee and hocks while your horse is in transit in a horsebox or trailer.
Whatever boots you choose, make sure you keep them clean, get the right size and fit them properly so they don’t cause your horse discomfort. Also regularly check the fastenings are secure so that you don’t lose a boot mid-ride!