Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thoughts on Leg Protection

Izzy has approved this message.

Since my review of the Eskadron Climatex Wraps, we've had a little discussion about the appropriate use of leg protection and it's application. I figured that I might as well discuss my theory and practice on that topic instead of summarize another stirrupless dressage ride (although I did have my best sitting trot ever!!).

I see leg protection as specific to an individual horse. In my case, I'm dealing with a mature-bodied diva mare who really doesn't interfere much under normal circumstances. Since she is a horse, normal circumstances involve standing in the pasture, moving around the pasture, and eating a lot of the pasture.

Thus, when I ride her and she is standing around, eating, and moving in a generally straight direction, I see precious little need to boot or wrap.

However, not all of our rides are trail rides.

I believe in leg protection for rides on which I'm asking her to do something new or difficult that would increase her chance of injuring herself. In addition, I always weigh the risk of leg protection gear vs the risk of bare legs.

For example, Izzy is pretty new to the whole trail thing, which would qualify us for leg protection EXCEPT that I think the risk of heat buildup and sand/weeds accumulating under the boots and rubbing her is greater than the risk of the occasional misplaced hoof.

When we had our absolutely fabulous dressage ride on Saturday, I had her wrapped all around. I knew that we were going to be going at a much faster clip than usual, and with the addition of lateral movements, I wanted that extra bit of protection.

I always boot for jumping. I use open fronts so that she can feel the rail if she knocks if, but if anything else knocks her, she should have protection. When doing grid work or cross country, I will boot all around. If we're just jumping single fences, I see front boots as plenty.

All that is held in the balance with the current weather. I live in Idaho, and it is warm in the summer time. Heat build up is a major risk for soft tissue injuries, so I always weigh the risk of that versus the risk of the activity we are doing. Generally, I'm more worried about heat than an occasional knock. Then there's winter. We get that here, albeit a lot less than most of you. That means that I switch almost entirely from wraps to boots, because my fingers are too cold to wrap properly, and an improper wrap is definitely worse than no wrap at all.

In case you're looking for product recommendations, here are mine:
Eskadron Climatex, obviously. Best hot weather polos on the market.
Classic Equine 3DX Bell Boots. The high neck gives gives extra protection and they are sized for actual horses, so they fit Izzy.
Roma Open Front Boots. They're cheap, they look good, they fit Izzy. I actually had Eskadrons here and sold them because I just didn't care for them.
Tack of the Day dressage boots. Don't have a link because they're only periodically available, but they cost $20, look like the more expensive models, hold up well, and are easy to clean.

PSA: If you do not know how to wrap, just don't do it. Boots are easier and safer.

So... thoughts? Agree? Disagree?


  1. Here are 3 opinions I’ve heard from the track, and what the heck, I’ll put mine in there to (so four!)

    1. Wrap all legs, so nothing goes wrong
    2. Wrap none, if a horse needs wraps, there is something wrong with him, he needs to go back to the farm
    3. The vet- There is no such thing as a bad bandage, so you might as well do it anyway so the horse doesn’t get cut from acting stupid
    4. My opinion- Home horses need protection in the front, so wrap the front. Some horses interfere behind, so wrap the hind. What ever the need, do it. What they don’t need, don’t do it.
    So at the farm doing lateral work on a clumsy horse. I should probably ride with 4 polos. Flat work with my hunter, why put anything on?
    I will say this though, and please, PLEASE, if you use polos, always pin them!! (Or tape) Please!!!!

  2. Generally no boots or wraps for me. If I were going cross country, hunter pace or anything like that where jumping might be involved, then my horse is booted.

    A horse that tends to interfere might be a different case. Tucker wears bell boots all the time in hopes of discouraging him from pulling a shoe.

    I think it's all a matter of personal preference.

  3. I LOVE Roma boots...I have 3 pairs. But then again, whose the biggest boot whore around? Yes...that'd be me.

    As for booting my pampered pony? Pretty much always, since he tends to hurt himself literally everyday. Or rip his tail out. Or whatever.

    So neurotic as it may be, I always boot. Always. Polos for dressage if working on a lot of collected stuff/transitions, regular boots for non collected work AKA test run throughs, etc and open front for stadium, bell boots ALL the time, and woof boots for XC.

    Seriously gonna get some of them Eskadron wraps. WANT.

    As for your ways? Perfect for your environment and work load/horse. YAY! At least I think so :)

  4. I always boot up for jumping. I love the Roma open fronts, good boot at an inexpensive price - but my favorites are the old original Veredus. And I have a pr of sheepskin lined Eskadrons, that's a very long story. I like ankle boots in the rear for jumping. I don't usually boot on the flat - but if the horse is antsy before I get on I will, spooking seems to lead to leg dings.

  5. I don't have open front boots, so I leave the boots off when we jump -- otherwise Rev knocks fences more than she does without the boots. I would consider open front boots, for sure, but it doesn't seem hugely necessary.

    Gary's view is that on the flat, young or green horses should probably have brushing boots so that they don't get hurt or in a tizzy when they inevitably, well, brush.

    I generally boot all four around when we go cross country, and I did up until recently when we showjumped. I sometimes boot when we work on the flat, especially when her feet are long. (six more days until farrier gets back from Elko, six more days ...)

    Your plan works perfectly well for Izzy, looks like.

  6. Since I grew up at an AA hunter/jumper show barn, I used to be a boot-all-the-time type of girl.

    However, I recently threw out a bunch of old boots and started over with a full set of Premier Equine vented XC boots, a front set of Ecogold breathable memory foam XC boots (hinds to come soon, hopefully!), and the breathable Saratogas.(Notice a theme? lol) But, now I'm more of keep-'em-bare-legged girl. I will certainly boot/wrap when necessary, but it really is a balance between protecting the legs and keeping them cool.

  7. This summer it was still over 100 degrees even when I was riding in the evening, and in the 90's when riding in the morning, so I used boots like... twice. At the beginning of the summer, when it was cooler.

    Also, Don and the others seemed to enjoy drinking out of the pond rather than the nice, clean, fresh, provided barrels of water by the barn, so his legs were frequently muddy, and never could I brush enough mud off to give me peace of mind for booting or wrapping.

    But when I do jump I have some plain neoprene splint boots to use. I suppose I could use my purple polos but I'm just way too lazy to wrap his legs, and wash and rewrap the polos, and stick them back in their case. The boots I can just hose off.


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