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Lower level eventing -- does horsey need boots?

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  • Lower level eventing -- does horsey need boots?

    Title says it all. If barefoot TB doesn't forge or brush, is careful with his feet over fences and terrain, and seems more comfortable sans boots, would it be frowned upon to run without boots on x-c? I'm aiming to go out elementary/beginner novice this year and am unlikely to go above novice in future years.

    I've heard some trainers say bell boots, leg protection, breastplate, shoes & studs, etc. are a must on any level course. What do you think? Would you frown on me and my naked horse if I showed up at your clinic or event? Am I putting my horse at risk by not donning leg protection at the lower levels?

  • #2
    It certainly isn't frowned upon, but it's a matter of pros and cons. Obviously if the horse really objects to them and is clearly more comfortable without, that's a "con". But otherwise there is so little down-side that I always feel it's a no brainer since even the cleverest and most athletic horse can make a mistake, and clobbering a leg is painful at best and scary at worst.

    Personally I always want front shoes on for any level, shoes on all four for Training and up. And studs if the conditions warrant then and/or the horse goes better with them in. If I have on four shoes, I have on front bell boots (again, minimal down side).

    As to breastplates, that's a matter of preference and sometimes fashion. I usually put one on my two geldings since they both wear running martingales and I like the breastplate style better. The mare never wears one.

    Your horse, your choice. None of it is mandatory and all of it is a matter of risk vs. benefit vs. preference.
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      Originally posted by PortPonies View Post
      Title says it all. If barefoot TB doesn't forge or brush, is careful with his feet over fences and terrain, and seems more comfortable sans boots, would it be frowned upon to run without boots on x-c? I'm aiming to go out elementary/beginner novice this year and am unlikely to go above novice in future years.

      I've heard some trainers say bell boots, leg protection, breastplate, shoes & studs, etc. are a must on any level course. What do you think? Would you frown on me and my naked horse if I showed up at your clinic or event? Am I putting my horse at risk by not donning leg protection at the lower levels?
      I err on the side of caution. I always use bell boots and and gallop boots. You NEVER know when your horse will land oddly and overreach or knock a tendon.

      You won't need shoes or studs if the footing is good.


      • #4
        I like bell boots and open front boots on the front. For low levels I want the horse to feel it if he hits a fence, but I want the tendons and heel protected against an over reach or a stumble


        • #5
          I tend not to use bellboots unless horse is known to pull shoes. I always use galloping boots xc, but often not for sj. I have gone barefoot at BN, but almost all my horses wear front shoes. I typically do not put hind shoes on (unless my farrier says they need them unrelated to competition) until they are going training. I use a breastplate xc, but mostly because I like having a running martingale (the types of horses I select makes this a pretty good idea). I also ride in boots at home to get them used to the concept.
          OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


          • #6
            The only thing in that list that I use 100% when jumping, no matter the level is a breastplate. I have taken lower level babies around without boots, but I do prefer at least front boots. I just feel better knowing that should something not go right, my horse will have some protection. I did have a horse for awhile who hated ANYTHING on his hind legs and wasn't really wild about front boots. He went naked a lot, though I usually put front boots on him if I was worried about him bashing into himself (he could also be VERY naughty and wild!). Of course, my horse hardly ever leaves the barn for any type of work without boots all around, and I sometimes wish I turned him out in them (more for the walks in and out than turn out really). However, considering he missed his entire fall season because he bashed into himself being a hooligan on the way out to his pasture one morning and did a tendon (thankfully, very minor) I feel I'm justified in this fear!

            I HATE bell boots and try to avoid them at all costs. My former horse needed them for life in general most of the time I owned him...and then he stepped on his bell boot on take off at the 10th fence of our three day...and that was the end of our weekend!


            • #7
              Depends on the horse...

              Apart for protection required by the way they move, I tend to boot up over the little jumps more to fit the horse's attitude. My young mare who is a very good careful jumper wears boots all around, every jump...because it means a lot to her if she hits the jump. Not even open fronts, she gets cross country boots every jump school. She does not need to be further impressed by a sting if she touches something. The other filly, however, needs to jump in far better form and never sees a boot. She is not nearly impressed enough and needs to feel every bite when she is careless with a leg. Really don't like rubber bell boots for jumping...too easy to step on. The fitted ones seem a lot safer.


              • #8
                Kate, mine were Classic Equine No turns. Very snug fitting.


                • #9
                  You will find lots of different opinions, and a lot depends on the particular horse.

                  Some people think that, if a horse hits a fence hard without boots, it will lose confidnece.

                  Others think that, if a horse hits a fence hard without boots, it will learn not to hit the fence.

                  Both are true, for some horses.

                  My horses tend to fall in the latter category, so I tend not to put boots on until they start wearing studs. Or if we are schooling something new that might lead to scrambling.

                  Not wearing boots does make me the exception, but not "frowned upon".

                  I don't like breastplates, and I don't use them unless I have an actual saddle slipping problem. Other people wear them on all horses.

                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                    Kate, mine were Classic Equine No turns. Very snug fitting.
                    Yikes! I really thought those would be hard to grab!

                    I also take into account who is riding the horse...if they are unfortunate enough to be trying to cart me around XC, the poor creatures get boots !!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                      The only thing in that list that I use 100% when jumping, no matter the level is a breastplate.
                      Agree with this.

                      I don't much like boots and never used them in foxhunting at all. I don't put them on my young horses but they also go without shoes till age 5 or 6.

                      Last year, Horse & Hound ran an article on boots, presenting research that showed that boots could do more harm than good. The harm fell under these categories: (1) interfering with the natural shock absorption mechanisms of the leg, (2) causing the tendon cores to retain too much heat and (3) boots interfering with proprioception.


                      • #12
                        Count me as the odd one out. Mine go barefoot and naked schooling and competing. I haven't had any problems with mine this way and also haven't heard any negative comments. It definitely depends on the horse, the rider, and the situation. Mine live out 100% of the time and are asked to problem solve from a young age. So no boots over little fences helps mine learn that hitting the fences is less than pleasant. In general mine tend to be very careful and don't ding themselves up or interfere, also competing is not my main goal, it is fun. So if mine do catch themselves and need to be off for a bit, it isn't the end of the world. Do what makes the most sense for you and your horse and don't worry about what other people will say.


                        • #13
                          Mine did just fine eventing "naked" at BN and when we started N. He had front shoes, but no studs, boots, or even breastplate or martingale. I only started booting up front when I noticed he was catching himself with his hind hooves. Once I shod him behind and started using studs for T the boots went on all the way around. No one ever said boo to me about my horse's boots or lack thereof. Do what works for you.
                          The big guy: Lincoln

                          Southern Maryland Equestrian


                          • #14
                            I'm only doing BN but in the following jumping phases I use the following:

                            naked except for breast plate. he can crack his back...and since turning over to eventing, i've just gotten used to using one.

                            full galloping boots
                            bell boots if really muddy

                            he has shoes all around but just because he always have.

                            i have felt him drag a leg when hes really tired (not hanging but skimming the jump) and i have had him land in a heap many times and i feel much better having them on.

                            FWIW at first he used to hate galloping boots but he got over it once i started to use them. he would trot all wonky. now he has gotten over it. only took a few times


                            • #15
                              I cannot speak for others but I would say you shouldn't be frowned upon for making a decision that you think is good for your particular horse. If your horse doesn't interfere, overreach, etc, then your decision sounds just fine. Find out what others do (and why), but at the end of the day be informed and go with what you think is best for your horse and your situation. Good luck!


                              • #16
                                I always always always jump with a breastplate! I'm looking into getting a black hunting breastplate (I have a five-point for jumping) for Dressage since my mare is quite rolly polly! I know how my mare is and given that she's got an age disadvantage I like to take a few precautions. I always use Woof boots all around with front bell boots (studs or not) for cross country, and open front Eskadrons all around for stadium (and front bell boots if it's wet). My mare always has four shoes, and I only use studs if I absolutely need to as my mare is quite sure footed!

                                Make sure that you try out each type of boot to make sure that your horse is comfortable with them before putting them on right before your ride time! Also, test out each combination of gear to find which you and your horse like best!
                                "Red on the right, white on the left, insanity in the middle."


                                • #17
                                  I'd say better be safe than sorry, but that is just me!
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