May 21, 2010

This Is How We Roll: Horse Boots

I have mentioned my personal addiction love for boots of all shapes and sizes. So I thought I'd share what Solo and I have settled on after years of trying and watching about everything out there.

I do not use boots for dressage schooling, except for front bell boots to protect his special shoes, because I don't like to heat up tendons if I don't have to.  For jump schooling, we use open front boots to protect the front tendons and galloping boots behind to ward off interference along with the standard front bell boots.  At a show, I will use hind ankle boots instead of galloping boots (lighter).  For XC, we always go all out:  bell boots all around, rear heavy duty galloping boots, super awesome N.E.W. sport boots up front.      

Tri-Zone bell boots
Bell Boots

I'm actually pretty happy with a cheapie lot of Roma double lock bell boots I purchased as a group of 8. The velcro is ridiculously grippy and it takes me both hands & some patience to get them off, but I use these for our turnout boots; they hold up surprisingly well. Not bad for $7.

For competition, we are stuck with a pair of Equilibrium Tri-Zone no-turn bell boots.   If by "no-turn" you mean "pretty-much-always-turn." They have the little knobby in the back, but it does basically nothing. Having ripped boots at a horse show, I had to pick some up at the tack tent and this is all they had, so I had to cough up about $30 for them, ugh. As a plus, they are very professional looking & durable; aside from being dirty, they are in impeccable shape despite several trips around XC & schooling & mud. I think we will be stuck with their turniness for a while, which is kind of annoying on a shaped boot.

When we run XC, I also put a pair of simple pull-ons on his back feet, just to protect from interference.  I picked them up for about $10, no complaints.

Hind Boots

Solo sports 2-strap Woofs behind
It's all Woof wear back here. For schooling, I adore my Woof All-Around galloping boot. I will buy these forever & ever. If the ones I have ever die. They are simple, single-lock, two strap velcro, usually on sale at Dover for around $30. I have never had them budge or give way. After about three years of use, they are worn, but still perfectly serviceable. They used to be used for competitions as well, so they've seen a XC course or two, until....

I found a pair of 5-strap Woof sport boots in the trash can while volunteering at an event. Silly rich people (these are $60 boots)...yay for me! They were in perfect shape except for a tiny rub on one edge. So now they are our competition boots due to their heavy duty construction, I have no worries that Solo is going to bash through them. On the downside, they are quite heavy & do not breathe at all, but they don't seem to absorb too much water either.

I also recently bought a pair of hind ankle boots for stadium jumping, my barn-mates all use them & I really liked their lighter weight & smaller design.  The galloping boots seemed like overkill for stadium and, again, I don't like to heat up those tendons!  I found a set of Moxie breathable neoprene boots on sale for about $28.  They come in fun colours & are super light.  NO, mine are NOT hot pink, of COURSE they are a lovely dark powder blue!!  I would give them only a moderate breathability rating -- the ankle pad breathes pretty well, but the strip around the cannon bone does not.   

Front Boots

In the past, I've ridden stadium in plain open front boots from Roma -- durable, fit well, and affordable (around $25ish).  Easy to clean, but like the Woofs, lined with neoprene so again, not so breathable.  Then I ride XC in some generic neoprene splint boots that I think I paid a whopping $12 for.  The splint boots are now disintegrating after three years of faithful service, so it was time to find a replacement (I'll keep the open fronts for stadium, but want the front of the leg protected for XC).

In my other boot post, I told you how I'd learned some startling statistics about boots & injury. I also learned that something like 80% of sporthorse injuries were to the lower front limbs. So I wanted to be sure that this time, I had the best protection I could find. I wanted breathability, lightness, & a serious tendon strike plate.

I ended up with these: the N.E.W Airoflow XC boot. Yes, I paid a ridiculous amount of money for them. I'm not telling, but I did get them on sale. I think because the labels are sewn on upside down. But I am hoping to get some serious years out of them. Oh, and I tried them tonight for the first time. And they are totally AWESOME.

The inside is some kind of techy impact foam.  But the material is a very open weave, not quite a waffle weave, but same concept.  When I took them off of Solo's legs after a sweaty dressage workout on a humid night, his legs were almost totally dry!!!!  The outside is a super tough looking nylon & the cannon is encased in a carbon fiber strike plate that is molded around the leg & padded with the foamy stuff.  Oh and the best part:  they are machine washable.  Now THERE'S practical design!


  1. Nice! I just got a full set of Premier Equine boots on ridiculous sale for McKinna. They're white, but I'll deal with it.

    They're pretty similar - hard strike guard for tendons on front legs, cannon guard on back, and designed for air flow to keep the legs cool. I can't wait to try them out.

  2. Please someone tell me when some good boots go on great sale! I really want boots for protection over x-country, and schooling but I'm afraid of heating everything up! It seems like all I have from the past are thick neoprene which definitely don't breathe. I guess I can use all my spare time to shop around.

    Thanks for the reviews! I love that you have a review section too, I feel like you are much more trustworthy than the ones on the sites... they could be trying to swindle us!

  3. This is where I got mine on sale - If you have a large or small horse you might have luck finding a set for cheap, mediums not so much. I got them a couple weeks ago so they might not have much left.

    They're UK-based - the shipping was actually more than the boots, but it was still only about $80 total for front and hinds. And they ship really quickly.

  4. Those PE boots are awesome too. Let me know how they work. I wondered if those little mesh bits would be impossible to clean? And I confess I was more than slightly swayed by NEW's promise about the whole washing machine thing. I looked at the Dalmar's too, but they were even pricier and still had the mesh bits and did not allow as much air in as the NEW's, which have airflow through the entirety of the boot.

    Tangerine, breathable boots are very trendy now so there are lots more options. Check out Moxie's -- they have lots of different kinds -- as well as Roma, which is making some nice knockoffs in their Pro series and I've always had great experiences with Roma stuff.

  5. Solo is a very well turned out guy who enjoys all aspects of horsie outfits.

  6. These are great reviews! Right now I'm just using the Wolf boots still but I do worry about leg heat up. Bugs goes a little close behind (not to mention that he tends to be a bit of a clutz at times). I worry about him hitting himself so I like to use his boots as much as possible and not just for jumping. It would be nice to get something more breathable. Now if I could just find the money to pay for all these wonderful new things!

  7. Amanda, check out the Moxie boots or other ankle boots for behind, they are smaller so cover less leg, but still protect the fetlock, if that's where he hits. Some horses also just hit the pastern, you can use simple pastern wraps in that case.

    And lh, all I have to say is that YOUR horse has outfits now too, ROFL!

  8. I'm just starting to look for boots for the horse I part board. She has a pair of SMB II for xc, and fetlock boots on the back, but the SMB are hot pink, and my colour is terquoise. I know colour isn't that important, but if I'm goingto buy boots, I'd like to get something reasonably priced, and with good support and aren't going to make her tendons heat up too much. I'll have to watch that video and see what I can learn.
    I feel like there are too many options out there to be able to make a well informed decision. Anyone else feel that way with horse stuff?

  9. There are a LOT of options, Lexie, I often feel overwhelmed! Some thoughts for you --

    SMB's hold a lot of water and do trap a ton of heat, I find them a less-than-ideal boot and I would purchase something better suited for performance.

    Boots do not offer any actual support to the leg -- the loading forces on a horse's tendons and ligaments are HUGE and cannot be offset by a bit of neoprene. They protect from impact only.

    I find it helps to make a list of what the most important features are to you and stick to the list. What are your horse's real boot needs? I think I could write a whole post on this, hmmm, maybe I will? But if you take your features and your price range, you'll find you can often narrow down your choices quite a bit.

  10. You should write a post on it ;)

    For the record, I don't boot up that much because my horse doesn't tend to interfere or whack herself. If we're on stadium and she hits a fence, I want her to pay attention to it, so I don't boot very often.

    If we're on XC, where she needs protection from big solid fences, I boot front and hind because I don't want her to get hurt.

    I do agree that SMB's aren't the best choice. If you want general protection, you probably could just pick up an inexpensive pair of brushing boots like Woofs or even plain splint boots and call it good.

  11. I talked to my coach yesterday about boots. We are just riding entry, and maybe pre-training. I'm not a believer in SMB or anything, it's just what her owner has for her, and I hadn't thought much about it before our clinic.
    My coach says for what we'll be doing, hard shell open fronts and tall brush boots for back should be fine. I ride her in Shedrow hard shell open fronts and fetlock boots in back for all our rides at home - jumping xc schooling, dresage, hacking, galloping. We've never had a problem. She does brush the insides of her boots, especially the back ones, you can tell by the wear pattern. But she doesn't know too much, and shee's barefoot right now. (might need front shoes during the summer)
    I feel like we shuld have something for xc, but I don't want to over boot her, I don't want to hurt her, and I don't want spend a ton. And I'd like them to not be bright pink!
    I would likee it if they didn't heat up her legs, if they stayed on well through water, and gave decent protection. And it would be nice if they came in turquoise, but that's not as imnportant :).
    Any suggestions?
    (PS, if you can't tell I love your blog, I'm just a lurker, of McKinna's blog too!)

  12. Hmmm, Lexie, turquoise is a tough colour! Hey, are you in Canada? Sounds like Canadian I am not familiar with what brands you can get up there, some of our Canadian buddies on here might have some better suggestions.

    I like open front boots a lot too for jumping, but I like a boot that covers all of the leg for XC so there's some impact protection for the cannon bone. I think you are great in what you have for stadium jumping. For XC at lower levels, if I was starting from scratch, I'd honestly just put the Woof galloping boots all around. Durable, protective, and inexpensive, what more can you ask for? No, they are not the most breathable things out there right now, but if you only have them on for warmup and running the course, they are not on the legs that long.

    A tip for colours -- instead of trying to find a boot in the colour you want, it is much easier to buy black boots and accent with coloured tape.

  13. So I went looking at Woof boots, and there are still a tonne of options!
    Yup, I'm Canadian, eh? I believe Novice = Entry. I can get most brands, but I don't mind buying online depending on shipping and what not. If I found something perfect, I wouldn't have a poroblem getting it shipped.

    I think I'll have to start collecting coloured tape!

    Thanks for the tips and ideas!