Choosing your horse’s leg protection can be hard. Horse Nation can help.
As equestrians, one of our main concerns is avoiding unnecessary vet bills. Some of the most common injuries in horses are leg injuries. Although some accidents can’t be helped, when we are riding, there are steps we can take to protect our horses’ legs. One of those steps is choosing the right leg protection for our disciplines and our equine partners. Fortunately, there is a wide variety on the market from which to choose. Unfortunately, that means we are faced with the burden of actually having to make decisions.
Deciding which leg protection to use on your horse can be daunting, especially as novice or casual rider. In order help you make the best choice for you and your horse, here is our quick reference on types of leg protection and what they’re for.
Polos can be made from a variety of materials from fleece to polyester blends. Typically they have some stretch and are approximately 5” wide by 8.5’ long for a horse. They have Velcro on the ends so that they can stay in place once you’ve wrapped your horse’s leg.
When to use: Polos are fairly ubiquitous in the horse world. Western riders, English riders, and casual riders can put them to use. They can be worn in training or competition and, when paired with quilts, they’re helpful during shipping and stall rest. They are versatile, easy to clean, and come in nearly any color or pattern you can imagine. The major downside to polos is that if they are wrapped incorrectly, it can be disastrous. If they are too tight, they can place undue stress on your horse’s tendons and ligaments. If they are too loose, the can come undone, causing a horse to get caught up in them and trip. (If you’re not sure how to wrap polos, refer to this tutorial for help.)
Our pick: Draper Equine Therapies Perfect Polo Wraps. These polos are legit. First, they offer the protective and therapeutic support that you expect from your polos. Second, they won’t slip like typical polos and they’re completely machine washable. Since they’re 65% Celliant and 35% polyester, they won’t pill like fleece polos. They’ll always look crisp and polished with very little effort. Third, they’re made with Draper Therapies’ patented Celliant technology, which has been clinically proven to reduce pain, increase oxygen levels and regulate body temperature.
Sport Medicine Boots
Sport medicine boots are used to protect the muscles and tendons as well as the pastern and fetlock. They can be worn on the front and back legs and extend from directly below the knee or hock to down below the fetlock. They are typically made of neoprene with Velcro closures and wrap entirely around the leg.
When to use: Sport medicine boots are used across disciplines, but are intended for strenuous, hard work work. They can be seen in polo matches, barrel racing, reining, working cow horse, endurance, and others. The can be used in regular exercise or during competition (where allowed).
Our pick: Iconoclast Orthopedic Horse Boots. Iconoclast sport boots offer a double support strap, so greater support is offered to each branch of the suspensory ligament and support is distributed evenly.
Splint boots focus specifically on offering protection to the inside of the cannon bone and fetlock joint. They’re usually neoprene with Velcro fastenings.
When to use: Splint boots are generally used in dressage and regular exercise, but can also be used for general riding, turnout, and jumping. They are especially helpful if your horse interferes with itself as they protect against blows to the inside of the front legs from the back legs.
Our pick: Professional’s Choice Pro Performance Hybrid Splint Boot. We love these because of the incredible breathability. The entire boot is ventilated, so your horse’s legs are unlikely to overheat and they will not retain water. They’re soft for comfort, but strong for durability.
Fetlock or Ankle Boots
These boots are exactly what they sound like: they cover only the fetlock or the ankle area of the horse’s hind legs. They provide support and injury protection for the lower part of the hind legs by protecting the fetlocks from impact or interference by the other back leg. Since they leave the upper portion of the back legs open, heat cannot build up.
When to use: Fetlock books are most commonly seen in show jumping classes and tend to be used in conjunction with tendon boots. They aren’t as common as other types of boots, so choices may be slightly more limited.
Our Pick: Weatherbeeta Pro Air Fetlock Boots. These are a durable and lightweight option that contours well to the horse’s legs. They have vents and perforated neoprene lining to offer as much comfort and protection as possible.
Open-fronted Tendon Boots
Tendon boots are used on the front legs of the horse (in show jumping they are often seen in conjunction with fetlock boots). These boots generally have elastic, leather, or Velcro straps across the front with padding and a stiffer material (such as leather or molded plastic) for the outer shell to protect the tendons and ligaments on the sides and backs of the legs.
When to use: Open-fronted tendon boots are typically used in activities over fences, such as show jumping or eventing. They provide support and protection for the tendons, but leave the front open so that horses will get the appropriate amount of feedback if they knock a rail and be encouraged not to do so in the future.
Our Pick: Majyk Equipe Infinity Vented Tendon Jump Boot. The outer shell of the boots is made with BASF TPU, which is designed to withstand rigorous riding and be flexible enough to adhere to the hose’s natural movement. The vented design keeps the horse’s legs cool and the inner construction provides a strike guard that is soft during normal exercises but hardens with impact to provide further protection from interference.
No matter which form of leg protection you choose, making sure that your equipment fits properly and is applied correctly is paramount. Happy shopping and go riding!