What are horse boots for?

What are horse boots for?

The terms we hear used for horse leg protections are: shin guards, tendon boots, shin guards or fetlock guards and also work bands. But are they all the same thing?

The horse's legs are beautiful and strong but at the same time being subjected to great efforts they are also the part of the horse that is most often injured. The stressful activity to which the horse's limbs are subjected and the exposure to sudden changes in temperature can lead to tears or blows to the most exposed parts which are the terminal part of the leg before the heels or hooves. Therefore, in order to subject the horse to sporting or recreational activities, it was decided to protect the legs with different systems depending on the discipline to which they are subjected. In fact, remember that horses are almost always shod and for this reason touching themselves during the race risks getting hurt.

You can therefore find various types of protection on the market and built in different materials, all with the aim of supporting the tendons and protecting the horse's knuckles from the impacts they have between them during running or jumping. 

Work bands are not real protections but rather supports that are used against or to prevent inflammation or injury to tendons and ligaments. 

The shin guards on the market can obviously be found in different sizes to better respond to the adaptation of the measurements of the individual horse and often also have a right and a left.

So how do I go about choosing the right size shin guards?

To evaluate which is the most correct measurement, it is important to know the circumference of the leg taken at the shin level. To proceed with the measurement of the circumference of the horse's shin, a tailor's meter is sufficient and without pulling, measure the diameter of the shin. If you don't have a tape measure at hand, you can proceed with a rope that you will then measure with a tape measure once straightened.

What are the best materials for shin guards?

As you can imagine, shin guards have evolved over the years by changing and improving the materials they are made of. One of the functions of the boots is to maintain the constant temperature of the tendons so that it is neither too high nor too low, it is also good that they do not cause too much sweat to the covered parts and that they do not let dirt pass which can cause abrasions. The closure is usually in Velcro and this allows you to be quick and precise in dressing and undressing operations. By now every manufacturer has his own special way of assembling materials and even choosing and orienting them becomes difficult. However, if the fabric used is not of good quality, when the horse sweats a condition will tend to form between the boot and the skin which could lead to the development of dermatitis. A good boot must be soft and easily washable. The most important thing is to look carefully at the manufacturer's technical data and not be satisfied with just the aesthetic side or a good price.

Wear boots correctly

Wearing the boots well is a fundamental factor. It is important that they are positioned well and that they are neither too loose nor too tight. In the first case, in fact, they could move and cause abrasions while in the second case we will cause the horse to constrict the ligaments which could cause damage. Always check cleanliness, even a few small grains could cause abrasions.

Front and rear?

Protect all four limbs or only the front ones. Normally it is easier for the front limbs to suffer an injury but then there is the variant of the discipline we do with our horse. For example in reining, during sliding stops the horse's fetlocks tend to touch. In other disciplines overdressing your horse could be useless and counterproductive.

So how to choose the boots?

From what has been said so far, it is understood that the protections for the legs of horses can be an aid during the various sporting disciplines but can also cause damage. We have learned that you have to choose them carefully both in terms of design and in terms of the choice of materials, paying attention to all the technical aspects. In this article we have not specifically mentioned the different types of shin guards in order not to create unnecessary confusion but it is important to pay close attention to what the market offers, always trying to find out more with the manufacturer's technical data. Then there is always the individual component, each horse has its own characteristics which it is important to know well and choose these accessories as we would choose a pair of shoes for physical activity for ourselves.