While you may regularly boot up your horse’s legs, believing they’ll give him the best chance of protection, you may be surprised to learn there’s currently no standard that has to be met.
The issue is, when you go to buy a set of boots for your horse, you can’t tell how protective a boot is just by looking at it.
The next time you’re buying a set of protective boots, do a bit of research first. Check out the materials that are being used – do they really do what the manufacturer claims? Here’s a handy checklist to run through. By buying a set that has these four features, you’re doing the best you can to protect your horse’s vulnerable lower legs from injury.
Flexibility – Rigid or inflexible boots may restrict joint movement, which can affect your horse’s stride and performance and possibly even compromise tendon function.
Boots need to allow as much freedom of movement as possible while still providing enough protection.
Weight and ability to hold water – The more weight that’s added to your horses’s leg, the more effort he’ll need to use to move it, resulting in more wear and tear. It can also change the way your horse moves.
Choose a boot that’s lightweight and won’t hold water – a boot that absorbs water will have a big impact on the weight of the boots and your horse’s legs too.
Breathability – Tendons naturally get warmer through the process of loading and unloading during exercise.
The ideal boot allows this heat to escape, instead of insulating it. It’s a fairly well-known concept, but also backed by research, that tendons are particularly sensitive to heat. Too much results in tendon cell death.
Fit – Boots should fit comfortably, ill fitting boots will rub, restrict movement and cause discomfort.
A good fit also ensures debris and particles of arena surface don’t get underneath the boot and cause irritation.
For more information about protective boots, see the full article in issue 454.
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