How to Select Horse Boots
Horse boots serve different purposes depending on their design. Some riders use horse boots to prevent leg injuries during riding or turnout, while others choose boots to combat a particular horse’s predisposition for recurring injuries. Boots can protect a horse’s legs from interference that can lead to abrasions and splints, and are almost always recommended for use during lungeing. Studies have shown that many boots, no matter their purpose, also help absorb some of the shock on impact as a horse’s hoof hits the ground.
Protective boots are particularly important if your horse has big movement in his gaits, has sustained an injury, or if he interferes-meaning he has a propensity for one or more hooves to strike another leg during movement.
Horse boots are made of a variety of materials, including easy-care neoprene and plastic, sheepskin, leather and gel. Various styles of boots may have hook and loop closures, buckles, or hook and stud closures. Regardless of the differences between styles, most protective horse boots come in pairs with a left and a right boot, with the closures of the boots designed to be on the outside of the horse's leg. If the boots are not clearly marked left and right, the closures should still end up on the outside of the leg with the ends facing toward the rear of the horse. If the closures were located on the inside of the leg, they could interfere with each other, come undone or cause the horse to stumble.
The array of boots on the market might seem overwhelming initially, but if you identify your main goal in putting boots on your horse, along with the type appropriate for your riding discipline, your decision will become easier. Add to that your preference for materials and your budget, and your field of choices narrows even more.
Horse boots fall into five main categories.
How to Estimate Your Horse's Boot Size
Most boots are available in small, medium and large sizes, and a few manufacturers produce boots that are scaled to fit ponies and extra large horses. Some manufacturers, particularly those that produce support wraps, provide sizing charts with their product packaging.
In general, the height, weight and breed of your horse in combination with the circumference of its leg, will provide you with an estimation of the appropriate boot size to try on your horse.
If you have a small horse with refined bones, perhaps a large pony or Arabian that weighs less than 1000 pounds, you'll probably need small sized horse boots. Many horses require a smaller size boot on their front limbs and one size larger boot on their hind limbs.
Most Thoroughbreds of average bone and an average height of about 16 hands will require size large boots, while warmbloods and sport type horses may need large or even extra large boots. Horses that fall into the middle categories of medium sized boots will be Quarter Horse and Morgan types standing anywhere from 15.1 to 15.3 hands, along with fine-boned and smaller Thoroughbreds.
How to Check the Fit of Horse Boots
You should be able to slide one finger between the protective boot and the horse's leg. Your finger should feel snug between the two surfaces. If the boot is too big or too loose, dirt can get inside and cause abrasions, or slide downward where it may disrupt the horse's movement. If the boot is too tight, it can damage the horse's tendons.
The length of a boot on your horse's leg should be checked as well. You don't want the boot to be so long that it rises to the back of a horse's knee and interferes with normal movement. It should, however, be long enough to cover most of the cannon bone area as well as the inside of the fetlock.
For more assistance or to request a catalog call 1-800-989-1500. Or, stop by any of our retail stores to speak with a Dover Saddlery product adviser. Visit www.DoverSaddlery.com for a complete store listing and the full product offering.
What is a Splint?