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We Are Flying Solo

January 24, 2010

Help For Boot Buyers Anonymous

Hi, my name is eventer79 and I am addicted to buying horse boots.

I admit it. I don't even know why. But I love leg boots. It doesn't even make sense given that I only use them for jumping, but there it is. I have galloping boots, splint boots, open front boots, bell boots, polo wraps, standing wraps, track wraps, brushing boots... Hey, you have to be prepared! Ok, no, the picture is not my tackroom, but OH, I wish it was!

But there's always a question when it comes to boots -- which ones are best? What variables should I be looking at when purchasing? What is my horse most at risk for? Can I HURT my horse with boots? When should I use them? Even more importantly, when should I NOT use them?

Well, USEA has kindly posted this excellent video from the recent national convention. Dr. David Marlin is a British scientist who has been conducting empirical tests on equine leg boots and investigating what we should be asking our boots to do. And finally, someone states with authority that a little bit of neoprene and velcro does not, cannot, will never provide any real support of the massive loading forces present in a horse's leg, hurrah!

It's about 20 minutes or so, but I strongly encourage watching, it's extremely informative, well-researched, and well-presented. He does have videos of his testing, although the 9 types of boots he tested are only referred to by number, not by brand name, so don't expect a magic slip of paper saying, "Buy this one!" But did you know tendon cells start to die at 45 degrees C (114 degrees F, not that hard to do, I would imagine, under neoprene in summer)??! And horses, when knocking their leg on a solid object, are routinely exposed to the same amount of concussive force that would break a human femur? Sweet, we, as horse owners, definitely need evidence to make us MORE paranoid!!!!


  1. I only have sport boots (same idea as SMB's but a different brand) though I haven't used them in years. Don't worry, I didn't actually think they were going to save her tendons from the force of her body weight if anything went horribly wrong, I just think neoprene is a pretty darn good shock absorber if she trips over herself. FWIW mine are perforated to supposedly prevent overheating, but who really knows.

  2. A big issue with the sport type boots is restriction of motion in the fetlock and pastern. The suspensory ligaments really need to flex and drop to absorb shock, so just make sure they are not preventing any flexion. :-)

  3. Ummm, i think now is when I confess that I own many many pairs of polo wraps. Do I use them? No. Do I like buying them in colors that would look good on my pony? Yes. I have a sickness...

  4. But they are so PRETTY!!! I have been known to use polo wraps just because I want a pretty color on the horse I'm riding......

  5. I am the same way with bits. I want a collection of bits. Both of our horses go in identical bits, but I always want more. I am hopeless.

    In terms of horse boots...I have Nunn Finer five-straps and front bell-boots for XC. If we're doing stadium, she usually jumps naked-legged.

    I admit that once I start moving up in eventing, I may have to get a really nice pair. I really like the light-weight, breathable ones with tendon guards.

  6. Yes, yes, yes -- I COVET the Tri Zone XC boots with the vents. They shall be my next XC boots. For now, I have a really nice pair of 5 strap woofs for the back -- that some silly girl threw away at the Training 3 Day and I TOTALLY dug them out of the trash and took them home. I am not ashamed.

  7. I LOVE boots. It's sad, really. I have splint boots, open fronts, dressage boots, polo wraps, bell boots... yeah. I do try to be smart about them, though. I don't use them trail riding; the risk of heat and stuff getting in them is higher than the risk of injury. I'm careful in mud, and if we're going new places, I evaluate whether or not she'll be calm enough to put on and remove boots without injuring either of us.

    Oh, and I don't delude myself into thinking they support anything. I just want protection from interference and the outside world.

  8. Please tell me if this was foolhardy & dangerous. When we hauled Barrett from Kansas to Minnesota (8 hour trip) I wrapped his legs with polo wraps & did 1 wrap around with duct tape to ensure security. Every time we stopped, I hopped in the trailer & checked the wraps, changed where the tape was, etc. Next time I would probably invest in shipping boots. I was really nervous about him dinging up his legs & it was a short-notice trip. Turns out he's the most steady trailering horse EVER and very low risk for dinging, but still :)

  9. Nope, Jen, that is fine. Quite an acceptable way to protect a horse's legs during shipping. I always always always use shipping boots -- even for a quiet horse, it's just too easy to put them on NOT to do it. Of course, you want sturdy ones that won't shift or slip. The Dover ones are great because they are affordable, but sturdy. I've had them for almost four years now, aside from dirt, they are in perfect shape!