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When do YOU put boots on a horse and what type?

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  • When do YOU put boots on a horse and what type?

    I have been reading a lot recently that many types of boots/leg protection, or kinds of boot use, may do more harm than good. For instance, the leg is very lightweight because it moves the most and adding weight to that stresses it more than adding weight where the saddle is. Also, that warming the tendons/keeping heat in the leg can lead to significant cell death or degeneration of the tendons/ligaments in the leg.

    So when do you use boots/leg protection? what kind?

  • #2
    It depends on the horse and what we're doing.
    I always jump in front boots after witnessing a horse land off a tiny crossrail awkwardly and almost sliced right through the tendons on his right from with his own back foot. I try to buy lightweight, breathable, open fronts for that.
    If I have a horse that hits themselves I'll put boots on, front and back depending, especially if they have shoes on. If they're a clean mover and we're just flatting it's often done with naked legs.
    Going for a hack I'll often put bell boots on if it's muddy, etc. but will leave the boots off if it's really wet, or if we're walking through an area or bushwacking where they might get sticks, etc underneath the boots.

    I always feel their legs when I remove the boots to give myself a future reference, especially in the summer when it's really hot out.

    Comment


    • #3
      If they have shoes...they get light weight breathable boots. If they don’t have shoes....just depends on horse.
      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

      Comment


      • #4
        I use bell boots on horses that tend to pull shoes. Generally the horses I've had that have to wear bell boots wear them all the time.
        For hacking, I never boot. I go through all types of terrain and I don't want to worry about sticks and debris getting stuck in a boot. If I'm doing a gallop set in a field, I will throw on brush boots.
        Generally speaking, I put on front brush boots when flatting, usually hind brush boots as well. I have a set of DSBs as well as multiple sets of Boogaloos, which are also my XC boots.
        If I'm doing a jump school, they wear open fronts and ankle boots. A XC school, they wear Boogaloos all around.
        Sometimes I will jump a horse naked if they tend to be a bit lazy with their legs.

        Comment


        • #5
          For current guy I use bell boots, front brush boots when flatting and jumping in the stadium I use open front. Rear I use brush when we have hind shoes on. The only reason I use any boot is because he over-reaches and has interference behind. Sometimes I even have bell boots behind because of the interference. This guy is booted to the max unfortunately.

          My last horse I only used open fronts when jumping if I had back shoes on. I always worried she would hit herself. Other than that, despite my current guy, I am a no boot whenever possible person. To many people use them just because and I am to lazy for that.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have bell boots on my mare 24/7 because she is a talented shoe puller. Bell boots allow her to keep her shoes on for the most part, so they live on her.

            When jumping I use eskadron open fronts and ankle boots. They are pretty lightweight and breathable. For XC I use the PEI boots - I really like these boots, they are light, don't hold water and don't trap heat on the horses leg. I have had my mare do some talented things to try to maim her legs on XC.....I would never go cross country without some form of protection. As for flatting (or trail riding or hacking), at a minimum I put Woof boots on the front, usually the back too but it just depends. Lunging she gets a set of full boots -- fun fact though, that still doesn't protect from everything! Last year, my mare slipped and sliced her leg open with the opposite hoof -- almost 6 months off for "healing time" between the wound closing and then proud fleshing .... and more proud flesh and more proud flesh. Ugh. She still has a lovely protruding scar on her leg as a reminder . Just goes to show boots can only go so far, if a horse wants to hurt themselves badly enough they will......says the person who literally boots up every single ride haha
            I just started a blog!
            Another Adult Amature and her OTTB: https://eventingottb.wordpress.com

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              I find it so interesting that we put more restrictive boots (ie not bell boots) on when we are asking for harder work, as it lessens the degree of movement of the joints to some extent. Which is a SUPER bad thing during heavy work as it will load other parts of the body in abnormal/not otherwise used ways, especially to compensate for the loss of bend in the pastern (saw a study somewhere that the average boot restricts it about 10% more? than no boot movement) . But I do fall prey to the 'better boot if jumping' mentality many times if the horse is known to be a big mover or clips itself/interferes often.

              I just think as horse owners, we really over-boot without thinking of the consequences. In heavy work, horses can have their tendons heat to 45C WITHOUT boots - this is a temp which causes 10% cell death of tendon cells. Upping that just 3C leads to 80% death of tendon cells. Of course we test the core tendon temp on expensive, and very fit horses such as ones running on the track and then extrapolate with experiments. But I have been reading in-depth recently about this and now will never let neoprene near a horse's legs again (at least, if the horse is under my care). I think there is such an easy line to cross where boots are hindering - unless the horse is prone to striking itself AND is shod.

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't boot when trail riding, paper chasing, foxhunting. I boot when xc schooling to protect against a hard wack. I generally don't boot for stadium/schooling in the ring unless it is where I go straight from stadium to XC.
                When my green OTTB was in work I used boots for lunging, when I first started cantering and when I was introducing him to jumping. Mostly to protect his legs from those green uncoordinated moments.
                Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

                Comment


                • #9
                  You wouldn’t think that after loosing months to a stupid knock or had to scratch from a major FEI competition because of a tiny preventable cut. Where I’ve yet to know a horse who did a tendon because his leg got too hot in a boot.

                  Thats actually old school thinking. Boots and hell even lots of polo wraps are breathable and light weight while still offering protection. I regularly use LeMieux mesh work boots and have yet to have a horse’s leg be hot because he had boots on.
                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I showjump in open fronts on all four, and add bell boots in front or fetlock boots behind as needed for horses who overreach or interfere. And I use a set of four XC boots for full protection in that phase. Otherwise, naked!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have one that cracked himself being silly when he was a few weeks off the track. I felt it! He was wearing those fleece Heidi boots. 8 weeks and a splint later, you can bet I grab Woof type boots for him every time I ride! He jumps in a hard shelled open front like Eskadrons, and ankles behind. He lives in gum bells too. He is a good mover, just too exuberant sometimes and gets himself in trouble.

                      my other mare moves straight and I only put open fronts on her if I am going to jump. She has yet to have an issue, but if she does I will boot her too.

                      it takes a few seconds. The only boots I have ever seen cause a problem are Prof Choice-type boots.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                        Where I’ve yet to know a horse who did a tendon because his leg got too hot in a boot.
                        The actual research on boots, heat and tendons (I think one was in Australia on racehorse, the other well-known one in Japan) showed that when tendons heat up to IIRC something like 45C, there's a certain rate of cell death that starts to happen. Tendons don't have much of a blood supply so take longer to cool. Along with the cell death, there's an increase in inflammatory factors in the tendon. So you have cell death and inflammation, which might not look like 'did a tendon' in the acute sense but would not be good for the tendon, especially not in repeat bouts over time.

                        This is why it's recommended that boots are only used during the exercise phase and removed immediately after.

                        Completely coincidentally, I was discussing boots today with the guy that drives my pony who had a successful career up to Prelim/Inter in eventing but is now having a go at combined driving. I'm doing ridden strength work with her with cavelletti for the next month or so and have borrowed some pony open-fronts for that. Because she's going to be competing next year, I want to be careful with her legs. (Normally, I don't use boots for schooling jumping.) Sterling told me that he sometimes does phase A of marathon (driving's term for XC) with no boots and then just puts them on for the hazard section. The thinking here is you have 14k of marathon and want to keep the horse's legs cool when you can.

                        There was a good overview of the veterinary literature on boots in Horse & Hound a few years ago. The conclusions were very interesting, and not really in support of boots at all as they interfere with proprioception.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My horse has cut himself too many times working without boots for me to take the chance anymore. He goes in boots for anything more than walking. He is prone to cellulitis so I'm done risking stuff like that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            There is tons of good scientific research showing that heat build up in tissues can degrade the tissues in heavy work. That being said, I ALWAYS boot up everywhere. I’ve seen enough sliced tendons to consider otherwise.

                            Academicequestrian, you completely overlook the fact that through proper conditioning and acclimation horse physiology can adapt to the boots. Therefore, a horse booted regularly is no more at risk to heat shock than one never booted. I find it ironic that you ask a question and then when some very experienced horsemen give you theour answers you are aghasted and affronted with indignatory feelings. Thus, I like to put a nice set of black thigh high boots on my boy when we head out into town.

                            Reed

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I only ride one, and he wears front boots for XC schooling and at shows, and that's it. Not a scratch -- touch wood -- in almost five years, but he is a mature guy. I'd be more likely to boot a young horse for sure, esp. for riding. In the past I was more pro-boot than I am now, but I echo the concerns about overheating the legs in summer / limited mobility. The older I get the more I see the sense of a KISS approach to horses. Interesting to hear the opinions of others.
                              I can see the sense of booting for turnout just in case, in cool weather, but having worked for long time at a barn where every horse went out in boots all around, some in polos for the front, my back says NO BOOTS for turnout

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                                There is tons of good scientific research showing that heat build up in tissues can degrade the tissues in heavy work. That being said, I ALWAYS boot up everywhere. I’ve seen enough sliced tendons to consider otherwise.

                                Academicequestrian, you completely overlook the fact that through proper conditioning and acclimation horse physiology can adapt to the boots. Therefore, a horse booted regularly is no more at risk to heat shock than one never booted. I find it ironic that you ask a question and then when some very experienced horsemen give you theour answers you are aghasted and affronted with indignatory feelings. Thus, I like to put a nice set of black thigh high boots on my boy when we head out into town.

                                Reed
                                The only evidence I've seen of horses 'adapting' to boots is their tendons weakening as they are getting used to the boots being over used (I've seen this only on people who ride 100% of the time in boots, and turn out their horses in boots every time. So the horse never has a chance to exercise without boots.) This leads me to think that when we are always jumping with boots, our horse's legs are adapting in such a way that their legs would 'do a tendon' if they step the wrong way much more easily were they not booted once than if they were trained at almost all times (except shows or running cross country) without the added 'support' of these boots. Certainly we are doing a disservice to the structures overcompensating for the boots' effects on restricted joint movement.

                                This is not to say that very well ventilated, actually cushioning boots could help. But I've seen boots torn open to reveal styrofoam or that foam you would see in a couch cushion and this is not providing any protection other than from superficial scratches. There are some REALLY cool textiles out there on the market, but they are few and far between the neoprene-lined gimmicky types.

                                I'm just surprised that something so important to the horse/rider (legs) isn't thought of too critically when it comes to the nitty gritty science.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Hacking: Lemeuix or Eskadron bandage and polo over the top. I also have a pair of dover fleece brush boots that have lasted forever.

                                  Jumping: Veredus E-vento boots or majyk equipe. Love both. Have a pair of Lemeuix Open fronts and hinds that I love.
                                  Dark Side of the Moon
                                  2010 Thoroughbred mare
                                  http://imgur.com/GT2qEuY

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I used to be ambivalent and didn't always use them, since I only jump/school novice/occasional training and my guys are barefoot. But then my horse stepped off his ergot when jumping bootless. It wasn't a terrible injury but it was a bloody mess. Then my other horse grabbed himself and was lame about a week before his first recognized show. Fortunately he recovered in a couple of days. So now they wear bell boots most of the time, and open fronts/XC boots when jumping.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by academicequestrian View Post

                                      ....

                                      I'm just surprised that something so important to the horse/rider (legs) isn't thought of too critically when it comes to the nitty gritty science.

                                      Funny, as an academic scientist who has actual friends (real human beings in vet schools) who do the tendon research, I find it, again, ironic you say that.

                                      In your "analysis" of 100% failure/dependence, did you biopsy the tendons? Ultrasound to look at fiber orientation/cohesion? Did you use LVDTs to measure force degradation? Perhaps you at least used thermocouples to measure retained heat? Was there a clinical diagnosis and if so, what is the N value? Not very academic, if you ask me.

                                      Your first paragraph point out to me a distinct lack of understanding of the mechanics of the flexor tendons in horses. No boot can "support" a tendon given the loads placed even jumping a small fence (I calculated about a 5000 psi stress per leg from 3', just about need steel bands).

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by RAyers View Post


                                        Funny, as an academic scientist who has actual friends (real human beings in vet schools) who do the tendon research, I find it, again, ironic you say that.

                                        In your "analysis" of 100% failure/dependence, did you biopsy the tendons? Ultrasound to look at fiber orientation/cohesion? Did you use LVDTs to measure force degradation? Perhaps you at least used thermocouples to measure retained heat? Was there a clinical diagnosis and if so, what is the N value? Not very academic, if you ask me.

                                        Your first paragraph point out to me a distinct lack of understanding of the mechanics of the flexor tendons in horses. No boot can "support" a tendon given the loads placed even jumping a small fence (I calculated about a 5000 psi stress per leg from 3', just about need steel bands).
                                        Not only that but the OP is at first seeming to ask a question and then is bringing all his/her « knowledge ». and experience...

                                        I’m not sure what the OP wants from this thread...
                                        ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                                        Originally posted by LauraKY
                                        I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
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