SMART BOOT USE

EQUUS - - Eq Handson -

Boots can pro­tect a horse’s limbs dur­ing rid­ing ses­sions, but---with one no­table ex­cep­tion---leav­ing them on dur­ing turnout isn’t a good idea.

Ten­don boots and oth­ers that cover the legs trap dirt and heat next to the skin, which can lead to ir­ri­ta­tion. And a dam­aged or loose boot can be a haz­ard, in­jur­ing the very struc­tures you’re try­ing to pro­tect. You may see pho­tos of horses turned out wear­ing leg boots, but these tend to be elite ath­letes who are groomed thor­oughly be­fore and af­ter they go out and whose turnout is care­fully mon­i­tored. Un­less you’re able to pro­vide that much over­sight, it’s bet­ter to forgo leg boots when your horse is on pas­ture.

Bell boots, on the other hand, can be help­ful for horses who tend to over­reach---step­ping on their front heels with a back hoof as they move. These horses may pull off their own shoes or, worse, in­jure them­selves when at lib­erty. Bell boots can guard against both of those pos­si­bil­i­ties. Keep in mind, though, that bell boots also tend to hold mud against skin, which can lead to con­tin­ual ex­po­sure to mois­ture and germs and a painful case of scratches.

If you leave bell boots on your horse for turnout, it’s im­por­tant to reg­u­larly flip them in­side out to brush the leg and clean the un­der­side of the boot. As you do this, in­spect the horse’s hoof and heel area for signs of ir­ri­ta­tion.

BOOT CAMP: When a horse wears bell boots dur­ing turnout, it’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant to keep his legs and the boots clean.

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