Protective Leg Boots for Horses
You may see a horse on a televised competition wearing leg protection and wonder precisely what it is for, or if your own horse needs this type of protection. Although they are called 'boots,' they don't serve the same purpose as 'hoof boots.' Leg boots help protect the delicate structures of the leg from bumps against obstacles, or the horse's own hooves. They also help support the tendons and ligaments in the legs, as performance horses can be prone to straining these tissues. Horses have no padding from muscle tissue in the lower leg, so boots can help prevent potentially debilitating injuries.
Unless there is a pre-existing condition that needs protection, most backyard pleasure horses do not need any leg protection. However, some horses, no matter how light their workload is, are prone to over-reaching, forging, or interfering and injuring themselves. Often poor conformation causes them to hit themselves, especially after they get tired – like how a person might trip over their own feet when fatigued. Young horses that are being started may hit themselves because they are unbalanced. And of course, performance horses – hunters, jumping, endurance horses, barrel race, reiners, and many others – may benefit from the support and protection of a leg boot.
Depending on what your horse's specific problem is, or what sport you're competing in, there are many boots to choose from. Manufacturers don't always use the same name to describe all boots. Some boots combine functions, such as a boot that is both a sports medicine boot and skid boot.
It's vital that leg protection fits well, is kept clean, and frequently checked in case the boots are chaffing. Built-up sweat, grit, and dust can make boots uncomfortable, so cleaning them regularly is essential. Here are the most commonly used leg protection or leg boots.