Saturday, March 2, 2013

Booting Call!

It seems like every rider has a different idea of when/how/why to boot a horse, and I find the debates intriguing. I've always had my own opinions on the subject and I have a bit of a boot fetish, so let's look at why we boot horses.

1) Boots offer protection to the horse's legs.

Cute in his fluffy boots
That's it. I don't believe that boots support anything. When deciding if you want to boot, ask yourself, "Do I want to protect my horse's legs?" and go from there. Haha. The trainer I ride with has had two different horses completely deglove their front legs from an overreach injury without boots on. Her rule: All boots, every time unless there is a driving reason not to. Her idea of a driving reason is the horse who kicks enthusiastically when wearing hind boots. It's not worth the injury risk to him.

I can get behind that. To me, it makes sense to put a horse in front boots regardless. That's a horrific injury that a $20 set of boots can prevent. I like those odds. It's probably not a big deal if you only ride on level, groomed surfaces, but given that Cuna and I spend most of our time trying to escape that environment, we go with it.

That said, putting dirty, sweaty boots on is disgusting and unsanitary. That means after pretty much every usage, I have to scrub the boots. In an effort to save labor, I quit putting hind boots on Cuna this past summer.

Hind boots for a reason.
Guess what?

He interferes behind.

Boots it is.

Fluffy bell boots for a red princess
And then, due to some work our farrier is doing, I was forced to solemnly swear to use bell boots, every time, every ride. It's a pain, but it beats pulled shoes and disintegrating hooves.

So there it is. Cuna goes in full boots or wraps every time he works, plus bell boots. He also gets bell boots for turnout if I have a reason to think he'll act like a nutter. It's a philosophy that works for me. What are some other boot ideas that work for you? Does anyone not use them?


  1. I am not a booter...gasp. I did boot Steady for a period of time when he came off the track because he would interfere pretty badly because his balance was terrible. My instructor at the time told me not to because he needed to learn not to hit himself (stupid fool). Then I finally came to my senses and ignored the hag. His balance got better and now has no issues. I can't say I am against it at all I just haven't felt a need to. When the jumps start getting bigger and the gallops getting faster I assume I will start.

  2. Connor isn't stacked up perfectly in front. He paddles like he's mixing drinks with the right fore and doesn't travel totally straight in the left either. We go in fronts to protect him while jumping and while he's flailing his legs around as we learn lateral work and he learns where his feet are, but other than that, I don't boot. His other big conformation fault is being too long in the back, so between that and not wearing shoes, he has no need for bell boots - if his hind feet touched his front feet it'd be a miracle. I will probably put hind boots on him for XC only.

    Conformation and use dictate whether they need them or not, is I guess what I'm trying to say my philosophy is.

  3. It depends on the horse and the work they are doing. X interferes behind so he never goes without hind boots. In the front he doesn't really need them. If I'm riding him I'll wrap the front, but when the kids ride I don't trust them to wrap so he goes without.

    Bugsy almost never wears boots. He doesn't need them. He doesn't hit himself, he's very self preserving. The only time he does wear boots is when he goes cross country, and really that's more for me to have another place for my cross country colors than a need for them.

  4. I completely agree with boots being more for protection versus support. I definitely think there are some boots out there that do give a little bit more support than your basic brushing boots but those are like the medicine boots and tendon wraps. But your basic brushing/galloping boots? Not going to help support your horse over 3' jumps. :P If I'm doing basic under-saddle ground work, I don't usually boot up (depending on the horse). But if I'm bushwhacking, boots win!

  5. I never booted with my previous horses, but since Fiction was a very serious investment on my part, I decided to grab him a pair of splint boots and bell boots. I was riding with them for a little bit but he seemed to hate the bell boots, so for one ride I took them off. Big mistake. At the trot he way over-reached and hit himself pretty hard, resulting in a nasty cut. So, now is it boots all the time. I've been too poor to afford boots for his back end, but when my paycheck hits I'll be picked some up. He hocks in a bit so he definitely needs them.

  6. I boot *almost* always, except when I am lazy or dont have a clean pair. For dressage we use full coverage fluffy boots (like Eurocrafts) on all 4 legs, no bells. For stadium we use open fronts and ankle boots behind (like Eskadrons) with bell boots. For cross country I ONLY run in my Tri-Zone full coverage cross country boots and bell boots. I actually just threw out most of my polo wraps - I never use them and they're a pain to wash, untangle and wrap back up IMO. Pong is pretty uncomplicated, doesnt interfere, generally he's careful with himself. Growing up it was ALL ABOUT the Ulster boots, remember those? How about needing to have SEVERAL colors of loud PVC Davis splint boots - my horse's signature color was the turqoiuse one :P

  7. I pretty much always boot up front (unless I am doing a quick hack (no jumping) in the arena---even then I usually do, though). Savvy doesn't interfere, so no hind boots. I also haven't had an issue with her pulling shoes or overreaching, so no need for bell boots. Guess I am lucky in that department. I say whatever your horse needs to stay injury free, but totally agree not to put boots on just to put them on.

  8. I used to wrap or boot every ride, and now I almost never do. Here's why:

    1. My horses don't interfere or overreach.
    2. 99% of the time when we jump, it's smallish stuff and the poles come down.
    3. When you foxhunt, if something gets stuck in a boot, there's no time to get off and fix it. Better not to have boots at all.
    4. It's BLOODY HOT in Texas, and the vast majority of boots and wraps hold in heat. I don't want to do anything to make my horse's leg's hotter! I haven't invested in any of the air-cooled boots because it hasn't been a priority, but at some point I probably will for XC.

    There is one thing I still boot for, and that is XC. I have a set of Nunn Finer galloping boots with Kevlar inserts - love them! Don't hold water and I've had them forever.

    Of course, if Echo turns out to be a klutz, I'll find some air-cooled wraps for him just so he doesn't knock himself. But only if he needs it!

  9. I tend to use boots or polos at most times, but it depends on where I am riding. If it is an easy ride and there are things like cheat grass to ride through I use minimal boots. Mojito has been quite the challenge as he seems to think that front boots are unacceptable. I put them on and he marches worse than I've ever seen another horse do, I mean it looks like he will injure himself so currently it is no boots for him. Diva always has front boots and if she isn't being too princessy than hinds also.

  10. Riva has had bell boots on since she started wearing shoes - all the time - and they have to be the heavy rubber pain in the ass to get off at a show kind.

    I started using the fluffy type dressage boots after she bumped her inside front leg from over-reaching. I always use the front boots - sometimes the hind.

  11. I boot for jumping..... if I remember to. That's it :)

  12. The only time I would ever boot is if I planned to canter while out on a trail ride. Otherwise boots were too much bother for me!

  13. I'm a booter all the way. While thankfully Libby doesn't interfere in the back, so I don't NEED back protection, I always ride with front boots and wraps on back. For turnout Libby always gets front boots and bell boots, since she seems to think shes a stallion when she goes out and paws at the world. She also needs the bell boots since she has shoes all around and overreaches like none other...

  14. I don't boot, as a rule, although Tucker is constantly in bell boots with hopes he will not pull his shoes--even in turnout.

    Now, I am mostly riding dressage and my horses do not interfere, so I've not had any problems. When I used to jump, I didn't use boots either, mostly because I was riding hunters and I didn't want to school in boots at home when I could not use them at shows.

    However, when I evented, I always booted for the cross country.

  15. I'll boot for jumping (open-fronts) and cross country (front and back). I'll boot (fronts) when out hacking on roads/field roads (if I remember), but if we're going on bush-whacking adventures, the boots stay at home.
    Philosophy? Boot for jumping (always!) and road work if I remember.

  16. My mare and I only do flat work, and she's never booted. I used to boot religiously until she tore her ligament playing in the pasture, and ever since then I've been worried about how much heat the boots would produce, so I've decided to pass on them. She used to wear bells 100% of the time until I pulled her shoes, and now she doesn't need those either. They definitely have their purpose and their place, though.

  17. I've considered at least putting bell boots on front because Kieran sometimes knocks his front feet with his hinds. He's not shod though, so there's that.

    Plus, I have yet to find a pair that fits him. They're either too small or way too large!

  18. Ooh, I too find the issue of booting fascinating & LOVED reading the comments. Not too many staunch no booters though, which surprised me. Anywho, here are my two cents:

    Cadence overreaches terribly in the walk, even with farrier work to help prevent it. She just has a really big stride, and when she's just lazing around, which results in her stepping on her fronts. The issue is that she HATES bell boots, and as in the 2 years I've owned her she's never had so much as a nick from overreaching, I seen no reason to force the issue.

    I'm a fan of leaving the legs bare, but I boot when we're doing lateral work (more intense than like a casual leg-yield, that is) and ALWAYS to jump. Plain neoprene brushing boots suit me fine- affordable, offer good protection, and keep the legs relatively cool. I also boot if we're bush whacking or going on a long trail ride, but not for plain & simple hacks.

    1. I should also add that Cadence gets turned out in brushing boots, because she's constantly scratching her legs up otherwise. Last time I tried leaving the boots off, she was out for 2.5 months and vet bills totaling nearly $5000. Thank god for insurance coverage! Needless to say, since then the boots have stayed on.

  19. I agree with you - only boot for a reason. I only boot while jumping or out hacking.

  20. I boot, though I know the barn staff and trainers don't always, if ever. I also wrap for travel.
    For me, it's a peace of mind thing - why not, when the bad things are so very bad? Do I want the guilt of knowing I could have prevented injury had I just spared a minute to put on his boots?
    He's an old man horse, we're just starting a second career in dressage, and neither of us are particularly adept or graceful - add that to occasional interference and overreaching (enough to draw blood) - and we work in front and back fleecy boot or polos, and velcro bell boots in front.
    I totally agree on the "support" thing - show me the peer-reviewed, published scientific research literature and I'll believe it, but not until then. Too much snake oil in our industry.

  21. I have to agree with booting up, because the whole incident with Vegas, and the saddle, and then getting her leg through the nice metal western stirrup, and then it tearing the hide off of her legs was a pretty clear message that boots are a good thing. Especially for the reining stops on the stock horse kids.

  22. I'd been going au naturel the last few months (easygoing rides while my knee recoups) but this post and these comments are a wake up call! I LOVE hearing what so many others are using! I use the Davis pvc splints up front and neoprene splints behind. Just what we inherited that fits. I have open fronts and ankle boots for behind but since Hemie is still learning to jump I want to protect as much of his legs as I can. No bells because no shoes. One day I plan to invest in solid XC boots like the Ecogold or Premier.

  23. I always boot period...

    Turned out Henry always get fronts and bell boots.

    When riding he always gets fronts/polos, bell boots and I have recently added in hinds.

    I am a better safe then sorry kind of person.


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