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Protecting your horses’ legs is important, regardless of your chosen discipline. But, with so many options and different functions, it can be very difficult to figure out the best ones for your horse. We have tried to simplify the process by creating a list of the different types of boots available to help you find the right ones for your horse.
All-Purpose Boots: also known as sport boots, splint boots or brushing boots. These boots have many different names, but all have the same function. They wrap around the entire lower leg, secured by velcro, to protect the tendons, cannon bone and the inside of the fetlock. In addition, they have padding on the inside of the leg to protect the medial splint bone from injury. All-purpose boots can be used on front and hind legs. Many horse owners will use these boots for flat work, jumping or turnout.
Ankle Boots: also known as fetlock boots. These boots are specifically designed to protect hind legs. There are two different styles of ankle boots: one with padding on the inside of the fetlock and one without. Ankle boots can be used in any discipline where the horse is experiencing interference from behind.
Bell Boots: also known as overreach boots. Bell boots are used to protect the heels of front feet and prevent horses from pulling off their shoes by overreaching. They come in many different materials, so take a look at all of the options before making a purchase. These are great for turnout or while riding in any discipline where overreaching is a concern, such as dressage.
Cross Country Boots: these tough boots are made to protect legs on a cross country course and stand up to interference, underbrush and scrapes while allowing dirt and sand to fall off. They are extremely durable, covering the cannon bone and tendons. They are also lightweight and well-ventilated. Cross country boots are made for front or hind legs, so make sure to order the appropriate ones to meet your needs. We find these boots are great for trail riders, too!
Open Front Boots: these boots work to protect the tendons in the front legs while leaving the cannon bone exposed. This allows for flexion at the knee and fetlock for horses that are jumping. With this design in mind, they are commonly used for jumpers so the horse can feel if they have hit the obstacle.
Shipping Boots: these boots cover the legs from knees to heels on front and back legs during travel. These tend to be loose to allow for more movement during transit. Make sure your horse is used to wearing these prior to traveling with them.
Skid Boots: skid boots are commonly used in Western disciplines, such as cutting and reining, where sudden stops happen often. They protect the back of the fetlock joint from friction during sudden stops. Unlike some boots, these can be used in combination with other boots or wraps.
Sport Medicine Boots (SMBs): SMBs wrap around the lower leg and the fetlock joint, giving protection from below the knee to the top of the pasterns. These boots are designed with a unique strap that wraps underneath the fetlock and provides support for the suspensory ligament for both front and back legs. SMBs are ideal for disciplines which are very intense on the flat (ie. not jumping), such as barrel racing or cutting.