From the EN photos, it looks like Tivoli and The Deputy both have open front on. Interesting - wonder what the reasoning is? And I wonder what kind they are. They have really thick straps. Anyone know?
Seems like the straps would create unnecessary pressure points too? That could have something to do with it as well. I worked for someone who wouldn't even use tape because she thought it created pressure points.
This is a very British practice and I use it on my own horses. Open front boots are made so if the horse rubs a fence, they will feel it and not make the same mistake again. Many boot companies now make xc boots with a metal plate specifically for xc (Nunn Finer in the US does it). As to Ian Stark- many old pros such as himself and Lucinda Green are opposed to boots on some horses, and honestly, I don't pass judgement or even question, as they are the BEST. I would assume, their horses are careful enough they feel they don't need them. Boots are notorious for getting horses' legs very hot and not using them obviously drastically decreases this problem.