All you need to know about Boots and Bandages #Part 1
Over the course of an average day of training, riding lessons, show jumping and competitive practice, your horse will encounter a huge amount of strain on their legs. It’s only natural that four legs, which support between 400 – 1000 Kg, will receive their fair share of physical pressure and in some cases, be prone to certain tendon and ligament injuries. To reduce the potential risk of tissue damage, your horse will need extra legwear support to absorb shock and impact during exercise.
At Country & Stable, we stock a wide range of boots & bandages to bring together an easy guide to help you find the most comfortable leg support for your horse.
Why do horses need boots and bandages?
Essentially boots and bandages are there to protect your horse’s front and hind lower legs from any undue stress, wear-and-tear or injury. They work to prevent common tendon fatigue problems as well as any unnecessary ‘brushing’ or friction as sections of the lower limbs rub together. Imagine the legs in motion for a second, as they travel over different terrains, you can start to see what potential problems lie ahead. The hooves will receive some trauma from pounding the hard ground or knocking against poles; as a horse lands during gallop the fetlock joints absorb the full crashing weight; hind legs will strike against front heels at fast paces.
All of these potential traumas can add up and will require some attention. However, if you spot signs of lameness in your horse’s legs – like noticeable changes in gait, unwillingness to stand or any joint swellings – then you should also consult a veterinarian who will decide whether the weakness needs treatment.
What are the different types of horse boots and bandages?
It’s fair to say all horses are different, from their individual biology and conformation right down to the activities of their everyday life. All of these factors – medical history, regularity of exercise etc. will make their way into your decision-making process.
Similarly, different disciplines will need to know the advantages of deploying either boot or bandage. For example, bandages are best used in stables as they can be more comfortable over long periods; whereas brushing boots are best used in the field as they do not soak up moisture and are easier to clean and re-use.
To get back to basics and help you purchase the right legwear, here is a handy breakdown.
Made from a knitted fabric and should be used in conjunction with padding underneath; such as a bandage pad. Used to keep legs warm, clean and actively prevent swelling after intense activity – they are ideal for quieter stable-based equestrian activities or for long travel. The only precautions to be mindful of are not to wrap the bandages too tight or the wrong way as this could lead to pressure sores and tendon damage.
Combi/Training, Polo/Fleece Bandages:
All the above are types of exercise bandages are used for ridden work and are all made out of different materials.
Combi/training bandages are the modern version of an elastic bandage and fibregee creating a bandage which is a lot quicker method to bandage and pads. Starting off with soft fleece for comfort, followed by a supportive elasticated bandage offering protection and more support.
Polo/fleece bandages are the same type of bandage with just have different names. Made from fleece and come in a multitude of colours which can be used to create the ultimate match look. These can be used on their own or with small bandage pads for extra protection.
Training Wraps/ Support boots:
The perfect combination of the support of a bandage and the protection of a boot. These can be worn on both front and hind legs and can come in a variety of colours. Made from lightweight materials which allow for the flexibility of movement, a great piece of kit for your horse’s wardrobe.
These are the general multi-use miracle boots that minimise ‘brushing’, which occurs when legs happen to knock together. Brushing boots are very adaptable to all forms of equestrian activity; the essential form is made of comfortable padding and a durable strike pad on the inside.
Tendon & Fetlock Boots:
All owners and riders will be well aware of the unfortunate wear-and-tear on the tendons and fetlocks. Designed for a closely contoured fit, tendon boots have padding that protects back and side from being struck by hooves. Not only light weight, these types of boots can offer vents and gels to help combat heat build-up and offer extra protection. Best of all, you can marry these together with a pair of fetlock boots (which defend the fetlocks on the hind legs) to provide overall dual support.
Bell Boots / Overreach Boots:
Bell boots, or overreach boots, are worn on the forelegs over the coronet and heel to reduce any problems involved with ‘overreaching’ – a process where the hind foot scrapes the front heel causing abrasions. They come in an array of materials with some designs are ergonomically fitted to cover the heels and contour to the hoof, with a no-turn knob to minimise movement and ensures any knocks are kept to a minimum.
As the name suggests, travel boots are worn to protect against bangs, scrapes and falls when the horse is travelling in a horse box or trailer. They usually have some kind of foam or fleece lining to help keep the horse comfortable, as knocking their legs against the sides of the trailer can be quite painful. When travelling with another horse, travel boots can also prevent knocks against each other, which can lead to distress and injury. There are different size travel boots available, including short boots that just cover the lower part of the leg, and longer boots that cover the entire lower leg including the knee and hock.
With so much information on this subject, we felt this was a good place to pause on the information sharing and plan to share MORE with you very soon.
To be continued …………….
Check out our full range of horse boots & bandages, and if you have any questions about choosing the right boots for your horse, please get in touch.