Friday, 6 March 2015

All about .... Boots for horses.

There are so many different types of boots available for horses now that I find it all quite confusing.  Horse boots are designed for support and/or protection and have, in a lot of situations, replaced bandages.  Next week I will blog about bandages!

I am not a big horse boot user.  I use boots for travelling, lunging and sometimes for jumping.  Having said that Basil does not work hard and doesn't seem to need boots as he moves fairly straight.  My previous horse, Josephine did not have very good hind leg conformation and so tended to catch her leg with the opposite foot (and shoe) often so she always wore back brushing boots for protection!  

I like brushing boots for lunging because the horse is working on a circle and so their legs may move closer together at times and because Basil has 'loopy' moments and I don't want him to cut his legs.  At this time of year it can be quite a challenge to have clean and dry enough legs for boots.  When I get him in from the field he generally has some wet mud on his legs!  This is a key point .... if you put boots on to muddy legs they WILL rub.  It is very important to ensure a horse's legs are clean and dry before putting on boots.
As I said at the beginning of today's blog there are lots of different boots available now but the main types are listed below.

Types of boots:

  • Brushing boots - these fit around the cannon bone with an extended bit to cover the inside of the fetlock.  The number of straps will vary depending on the size of the boot.  Straps should be fastened front to back and the boots should be tight enough to prevent slipping but not too tight to interfere with the blood supply.


To fit these boots you should place them around the leg, slightly higher than required and fasten one of the middle straps.  Then go back and fasten the top strap and work down.  Finally, gently push the boot into place (to cover fetlock fully) and test that you can put your finger snugly between the boot and cannon bone.  If the boots have double Velcro then the inner part will be fastened front to back and the other back to front.

  • Tendon boots - these are designed to protect the tendons and are open fronted boots.  This means that the horse will feel a knock to the front of his leg and are popular with show-jumpers so that the horses learn not to touch a fence.  Fit these in the same way as brushing boots.

  • Over-reach boots - these protect the heels and coronet from damage if the toe of the hind foot treads on the back of the front foot.  There are 2 types:  the first type is a 'pull on' boot and the second has some type of fastening.  The pull on ones are obviously much cheaper which is an advantage if your horse often damages them (once bits are missing they need replacing).  However, I find these really difficult to put on.  The best way is to put them in a bowl of really hot water for a few minutes and they will then be more pliable.  You turn them inside out and basically pull them on!  

  • Fetlock boots - do as the name suggests and just cover the fetlock.  These are useful if the horse tends to catch his fetlock with the opposite foot. They generally have one fastening above the fetlock.  As with the other boots put them on a little higher than you require before fastening and gently pushing into place.

  • Travelling boots - these are big, padded boots just for travelling.  They are designed to protect the horses lower leg from knocks and injuries when travelling.  Although, they are not always that easy for the horse to walk in! They tend to attach with Velcro for ease and cover all the way from the hock or knee to cover the heels and coronet.  Again straps should go front to back and the boots should be put on in the same way as brushing boots.

I know a lot of people use boots everytime they ride.  I only really use them if the horse needs them or the occasion or activity calls for them!

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Until next time!

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