Jitterbug’s Guide To Boots

Oct 11, 2018 - 8:50 PM

From time to time, Humans insist upon playing dress-up with their quadruped instructors. I don’t mean “Halloween,” which I’m convinced is the Bipeds’ attempt at paying me back for their flying dismounts earlier in the year. Each spring when the trail riding season resumes, my Human seems to suddenly become concerned that my legs, despite their lovely socks, are not properly adorned and adds various types of boots.

Kick up your heels and get rid of those nasty boots!

Naturally, this kind of unnecessary “crafting” is something that requires swift and concise response from four-leggeds. It’s important to mount the correct response for the equipment type you’re dealing with. Humans can get signals mixed very easily, and it’s much easier to make your aid clear the first time than it is to sort them out later.

• Bell boots: I don’t especially care for the dull thwack these make on the backs of my heels, and I like it even less when they actually rub. Humans apparently forget these are on and turn me out in them. Unfortunately, I’ve found the Velcro on these to be something out of the space station. If you do manage to peel it apart, the mud it accumulates sitting in the back of the pasture won’t be enough to render the thing useless.

The way to really take care of these is to rip the rubber. Make sure you stretch your hind legs thoroughly before attempting this or your stifles will be throbbing later. Reach deliberately with your hind toes toward the back edge of the boots, and give them a good tug with every pace across the field. Take care not to grab the heels of your shoes, unless of course it’s time to ditch those, as well.

If you’re really clever, you can also pull your bell boots off and stash them in the middle of a clump of grass but not near to fencing or cross-country fences. This should ensure the mower chews them up and permanently resolves the issue.

Sport boots: I don’t care how “ventilated” these are supposed to be, they always make my legs itchy. Luckily, I’ve found most of these fold like origami in any type of moisture. It just takes a couple trips through the cross-country water element (after due consideration of the obstacle, and after I’ve looked for my reflection and made note of the water fauna) to stretch out that elastic. Whenever possible, I also like to incorporate these in a few graceful tango steps to scuff up the insides.

• Shipping boots: I’m not sure I understand why I have to be wrapped in cotton balls to trailer for 15 minutes, which thankfully is as far as we ever go. I guess this sort of extreme outfitting is coming from a good place, but after about 10 minutes they get tiring, especially if the hay manger is empty.

Fortunately, I’ve learned the top edges of these can sometimes be flavored. If you’re lucky, the Human will have kept them next to the cookies in the tack trunk, and you might detect notes of molasses in the fabric.

Of course, if you are unlucky like me, the shipping boots have been resting next to the liniment bottle. Blech.

• Open-front boots: I find the premise of these a little distasteful. If you haven’t come across them before, the Bipeds think they protect our tendons while allowing us to get a swift knock on the cannon should we hang a leg over a jump. This sort of “trying to train the trainer” trickery is pretty common. I’ve found the easiest way to ensure these end up at the bottom of the tack trunk gathering dust is to prove them ineffective. When I model these, I use my toes (especially if they’ve still got bell boots on) to knock down the pick-up sticks. With any luck, the Human will clock herself in the calf with one of the rails during her reset. That’ll teach her.

• Hoof boots: I mean, give me something harder to lose, would you?


Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky.
Read all of Jitter’s COTH columns.
Follow Jitterbug on Facebook! Photo by Dark Horse Photography.



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