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Comparison Review: Turnout Bell Boots

Finding the right pair of turnout bell boots is hard. Horse Nation has done the research!

When my horse needs to wear bell boots, finding a pair that will hold up to my horse’s Houdini-like ability to get them off seems impossible. Even for riders whose horses don’t seem quite as set on getting their boots off, it’s a constant battle to find turnout bell boots that will do what you want them to do:

  1. Protect your horse’s front feet from its back feet. Whether it’s because your horse interferes with itself causing injury, or because your horse has a tendency to overreach and pull shoes, this is the main purpose of a bell boot.
  2. Stay on your horse.
  3. Last.

In the seemingly never-ending quest to find the right bell boot, we have put a number of boots to the test and are happy to provide you with insight on what we’ve found.

The Shires Arma Overreach Boots with Fleece Trim

Summary: These are gum rubber bell boots with double touch-and-close fastening and fleece trim.
Pros: These boots have the strongest velcro of any turnout boots we have seen. It does not come undone – even the farrier commented on the strength of the velcro keeping the boot on the horse (and he would know!). The fleece trim prevents rubbing and chafing in order to keep your horse as comfortable as possible. Of all the turnout boots we tried, this one stayed on the longest.
Cons: At $23.86 a pair from Amazon.com, their price point is a bit higher than other brands. Also, like all velcro boots, once the velcro starts to wear or tear off the boots, they are virtually unusable.
Interested in these boots? Purchase them here.

KL Select Italian Boots

Summary: These pull on bell boots are made in Italy and constructed with 100% gum rubber. The material helps the boots stay flexible in cold weather and it has enough give to make them easy to get on the horse. The rolled top is designed to prevent rubbing in the fetlock area.
Pros:
 The boots are durable and built to last. The gum rubber holds up better than the less expensive counter parts. The pull on design is beneficial because you don’t have to worry about the velcro tearing off or wearing out. These boot are large enough to reach down past the heel bulb to protect the lower part of the foot from interference and keep shoes in place.
Cons: If your horse does not stand well for the boots to be pulled on, these are not the boots for you. Also, at $39.75 on Amazon.com, these boots aren’t cheap. They are built to last, but it hurts that much more when your horse inevitably loses or tears the boot. 
Interested in these boots? Purchase them here.

Davis Bell Boots

Summary: These boots are made of rip and tear-resistant heavy duty PVC compound and feature double locking hook and closures.
Pros: The PVC compound is incredibly durable and we have yet to have a horse tear the actual structure of the boot (even the horses who are quite talented in this department). The size of the boot is perfect for protecting the heel bulb and pastern from interference and keeping shoes in place. At $19.99 from Tractor Supply Company, the boots fall in the middle of the price range. If your horse will keep them on, they’re worth the money.
Cons: The velcro on these boots does not seem to hold up to the rigors of life in our horse pasture. The velcro tends to last longer than some of the cheaper counterparts, but does not hold up as well as others at about the same price point. In our experience, once the velcro starts to go, there is no nursing these boots along, hoping that one strip of velcro will keep them on. Their size, while desirable for protection, makes it so that they flop around more than others if you’re relying on one strip of velcro to do the job.
Interested in these boots? Purchase them here.

Intrepid International Pull On Bell Boots

Summary: These are gum rubber bell boots that pull on over the hoof.
Pros: These pull on boots are easy to use — as long as your horse is patient and will stand while you pull them on — and you don’t have to hassle with velcro, which can lose its effectiveness with mud, dirt and other grime found around horses. We have found that the thread that keeps velcro on boots can come undone over time; that is not an issue with pull on boots. At about $10 from Amazon.com (depending on the size/color you choose), they also are easy on the pocket book.
Cons: When these boots wear out, there is no salvaging them. Unlike boots with velcro (which will often have some usability when one velcro strap is still in tact), these are more likely to tear in half, rendering them entirely worthless. The price is right, but they do not hold up as long as their more expensive counterparts. Also, they have a tendency to flip (and stay) upside down so that they are not protecting the hoof bulb, coronet band, etc., but instead are turned up over the pastern. More sensitive horses may react to the unbuffered rubber on their skin.
Interested in these bell boots? Purchase them here.

Tough-1 Heavy Duty Ribbed Bell Boots

Summary: Rubber bell boots with two “quick grip” synthetic leather fasteners.
Pros:
 These are the boots to get when you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that your horse will tear off and destroy his bell boots. A lot. No matter what brand you purchase or how much you spend, you know that you’re going to be wandering the pasture looking for a lost boot, desperately hoping that you can find it and that  it’ll be usable. At only $7.19 from State Line Tack,  you can rest easy knowing that destroyed bell boots will not break the bank and that replacing them is simple. 
Cons:
 They are unlikely to last as long as the better constructed brands. The velcro and rubber are thinner than other boots, but they will get the job done while they are on your horse. More sensitive horses may react to the unbuffered rubber on their skin. 
Interested in these bell boots?
 Purchase them here.

 

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