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What to Consider When Buying Horse Boots
The US has more than 1 million horse owners and a horse population that tops 7 million. As a living, breathing part of that statistic, you know how important it is to take the best possible care of your equine companion. From his head to his toes. Especially his toes. Keeping your horse well-shod is one of the most important things you can do to improve his comfort and keep him healthy.
When it’s time to buy new horse boots, do you know how to pick the right ones? The right boots in the right size can protect your horse's legs to prevent injuries. Keep reading for a horse boots guide that will explain the factors you need to consider.
What Kind of Protection Do You Need from Your Horse Boots?
There are many different types of horse boots to choose from. One of the most important considerations, when you're buying horse boots, is how you'll be using the boots. The type of protection you need will determine which type of boot is best.
Bell boots are also called overreach boots. They wrap around the top of the hoof to cover the heel and most of the hoof. You can put them on the front and the back.
Bell boots protect your horse from hitting its front feet with the back ones (overreaching). They also protect the hooves from tough or muddy terrain as well as preventing them from hitting a hard obstacle.
You'll see brushing boots called fetlock boots or ankle boots. They go on the horse's hind legs. Many riders use brushing boots together with tendon boots for the horse's front legs.
Short brushing boots cover only the fetlock joint. Longer ones cover the cannon bone between the hock and the fetlock. The main protective area sits over the inside of the leg.
Brushing boots protect the inside of the horse's leg from the opposite hock hitting the lower leg and fetlock (brushing). They come in a closed design or with an open front that lets the horse feel when it hits a pole while jumping.
Tendon boots go on the horse's front legs. They protect the tendon against strikes from the hind hooves. They also protect the inside of the leg from brushing injuries.
Tendon boots can be fully closed or open along the front. Riders use boots that protect the front of the leg during cross country jumping. The solid jumps can cause even more injuries.
Hoof boots cover the whole hoof, including the sole. They protect the sole when a horse is shoeless. You can also find hoof boots to help when applying a poultice or for cushioning a hoof injury.
Therapy boots are also called medical boots. They're for short-term use while your horse recovers from an injury or intense exercise.
One popular type of therapy boot uses specially-designed ice packs to cool the lower leg. Magnetic boots and heating boots help improve circulation in the horse's lower leg.
Stable boots are an alternative to bandages or wraps. They protect your horse's legs when it rolls in its bedding. They can keep an injury clean while in the stable.
Stable boots also keep your horse's legs warm in the winter.
Travel boots or shipping boots protect the horse's lower legs while traveling in a trailer. They cover from the knees or hocks down to over the hooves. Travel boots are thick and well-padded.
Travel boots are an alternative to shipping bandages. Bandages are the traditional protection for your horse in a trailer. Some riders prefer boots because you can put them on faster.
Choose the Right Size Boots for Your Horse
Once you know which kind of horse boots you need, you have to find the right size. Most boots come in small, medium, and large sizes. Some manufacturers make boots in sizes for ponies and extra large horses.
Horse boot sizes vary by brand. Use the manufacturer's sizing chart when possible to help you choose the right size. The main factors that determine which size your horse needs are:
- Leg circumference
Keep in mind that many horses wear a smaller size boot on their front legs and a larger size on their hind legs. When the boot is on your horse's leg, the ends should just meet or overlap slightly.
The ends of the boot will overlap too much if the boot is too big. The boots won't stay in place. The extra material can bunch and wrinkle, which may irritate your horse's skin.
You should just be able to slide your finger between the boot and your horse's leg.
Materials and Closures for Horse Boots
Horse boots are available in a variety of materials with several types of closures. The material and closure you choose are mostly a matter of personal preference. Some options are better suited for difficult conditions, though.
Leather has always been the most traditional material. However, leather has become more expensive, and it's hard to care for. Sheepskin, gel, plastic, and neoprene are other common options for materials.
Neoprene is now one of the most popular materials. It's inexpensive and offers a forgiving fit. Neoprene is lightweight, and you can rinse it clean.
Neoprene is a good choice if your horse will be getting wet or muddy. It doesn't absorb water or debris.
Horse boots come with the closures on the outside of the horse's leg. This keeps the closures from getting caught on each other and coming undone. Most boots have three closures, but two and four are also possible.
The most common types of boot closures are:
- Hook and stud
- Hook and loop
Many riders like the simplicity and speed of Velcro closures. Hook-and-loop closures may fail if they get wet or muddy. If your horse will be traveling through these types of conditions, traditional buckles may be a better choice.
Any type of closure should be secure enough to withstand the horse's movement and the environment. Closures should take a bit of effort to open.
Find the Right Supplier for Your Horse Boots
Selecting the right horse boots is critical for your horse's comfort and safety. Finding the right supplier for those boots is also extremely important. You want to know you're getting quality equipment and the best value.
Country & Stable has an extensive catalog of horse boots. We only recommend products that we've thoroughly tested. You can depend on our expertise to offer you exceptional brands with the best value for your money.
Contact us today if you have any questions about choosing the perfect horse boots. We look forward to becoming your equestrian partner.