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HN Deep Questions: Ribbed vs. Smooth Bell Boots

We started thinking about this and now we can’t stop. Please send help.

Such mysteries abound. SmartPak

Okay, Horse Nation hive mind: we have a burning question that we can’t figure out through massive amounts of research*.

*Googling a lot.

First, some background: bell boots (sometimes also called overreach boots) are used to protect a horse’s feet, from the pastern and coronary band down to the heel. Good for horses who overreach with the hind feet (hence the name “overreach boots”), the boot will protect the sensitive heel bulbs from getting clipped, as well as a front shoe getting caught with a hind toe and pulled right off. (Bonus points to horses like mine who manage to interfere with the other front foot as they learn how to horse.)

Some horse owners, especially those with certain shoeing regimens, may prefer to have their horse wear bell boots all the time; others will use bell boots just for turnout and riding; yet others may apply bell boots only for training and riding. They’re also often recommended on all four feet for shipping, when a horse may step on himself while balancing in the trailer.

There are numerous styles of bell boots and overreach boots, from the classic pull-on gum or rubber varieties to velcro-open bell boots to various neoprene or nylon iterations for specific purposes. For the sake of today’s discussion, we’re chatting the classic bell-shaped bell boot, either in pull-on or velcro-tab.

Davis smooth velcro-open bell boots in black. Also could double as a photograph of Darth Vader from behind. SmartPak

Eskadron velcro-open bell boots… ribbed. SmartPak

The classic pull-on bell boot, KL Select Italian. SmartPak

The other night, a friend of mine sent me a casual message, asking what the difference was between ribbed and smooth bell boots. (For all of us with a good equestrian friend, we know this is just a normal conversation.)

I thought about it. I Googled. I thought about it some more. And now I can’t stop wondering. All of my clicking around on the internet revealed that no one else really seems to know either. It’s worth mentioning, perhaps (I don’t really know), that you can only apparently get pull-ons in ribbed; smooth only seem to come in Velcro.

What is the difference? When would you use one versus the other? Why are there options?

Please, Horse Nation, weigh in and help soothe my troubled mind.

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