When shopping for fetlock boots, or indeed any tack you plan to use at a competition, you will need to ensure that what you are about to buy is competition legal. The exact rules and regulations differ depending on the discipline, level and governing body, and what may be allowed in some competitions may get you disqualified in others!
The FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) has recently released their new rules for horse boots, and they are a welcome addition to the equestrian world. The new regulations are designed to protect horses from unnecessary injuries, and to ensure that riders are using the correct equipment for their horses. This blog article aims to explain the FEI rules on hind leg horse boots.
What Are the FEI Rules on Hind Leg Boots?
The FEI Jumping Guidelines for Use of Saddlery, Equipment and Dress can be found on the FEI website.
The FEI rules state that if horses must wear front and hind boots when competing in FEI competitions, the boots must be made of a flexible material, and must fit the horse correctly. The boots must also be fastened securely and must not cause any discomfort to the horse. The FEI also recommends that riders use boots that are designed specifically for the discipline they are competing in.
FEI Rules for Hind Jumping Boots Explained.
The FEI rules and regulations on horse boots does seem to be quite a confusing topic. Whilst the team were working at the London International Horse Show, the boot checks caused a few issues with people having to find new boots quickly that complied with the new ruling. The rules were last updated November 2022, so not long before London International.
Exoskeleton Fetlock Boots: FEI Legal for all Showjumping Classes
Exoskeleton Fetlock Boots are designed to be legal for all jump classes. They are allowed at all events and competitions, even young horse classes. The next section explains why.
Protective Element or the Hardshell
The hardshell on a fetlock boot is described as being either a single or double. A single means that the rounded protective element or the hard outer coating only covers the inside of the fetlock. A double shell means the protective element of the outer shell covers both inside and outside of the fetlock and is designed in such a way that both sides can be bent to fit around the horse’s leg without effort.
For young horse events and competitions, this single shell must measure a maximum of 16cm at the deepest part of the boot. For all other competitions, this single shell can go up to 20cm. Exoskeleton Fetlock Boots have one of the greatest coverages of the fetlock area and still measures only 16cm in depth to comply with all classes.
Only Velcro type fasteners with no elastic or stretch in the strap are legal for young horse competitions. The lack of elastic reduces the risk of over-tightening the strap and causing discomfort to the horse. When shopping for fetlock boots, check that none of the straps are stretchy and that you are attaching them with Velcro only for young horse competitions. Elasticated straps are allowed for every other class, along with stud/hook fasteners. Fasteners that are not allowed for any class are buckles and ratchets. Note that even if the strap is just Velcro, if you can pull back or adjust the fastener to leverage a tighter fit, these are not allowed either. You can see that the Exoskeleton Fetlock Boot does not feature a plastic adjuster / fastener.
If there is only one strap attached to the boot, this strap must be 5cm minimum in width as you see marked in the picture. If you have two straps (these will usually be elastic and therefore not legal for young horse competitions), the minimum width of these is 2.5cm.
For a single strap fetlock boot, vertical and horizontal safety fastening straps are both allowed. The Exoskeleton Fetlock Boot uses vertical safety straps as the hook Velcro fastens down on top of the loop Velcro, which is highlighted by the red arrow.
The Inside Surface of the Fetlock Boot
Finally, the inside surface of the hind fetlock boots, for all classes, must be smooth, soft and spongy, with no raised areas that could cause a pressure point. The material must also be smooth and not cause any friction. Indentations for stitching are allowed.
It is interesting to note that there are no guidelines or rules for tendon boots or front jump boots.
What About BSJA Competitions?
British Show Jumping also follows the same rules as the FEI. The latest rules update completed on the 01.01.22 can be found at the below link: https://www.britishshowjumping.co.uk/membership/member-handbook-and-rule-amendments
Below is a handy pictorial representation on what is allowed and what is not:
The FEI ruling is applicable for the following British Show Jumping competitions:
• Senior British Novice Second Rounds and Finals • Senior Discovery Second Rounds and Finals • Senior Newcomers Second Rounds and Finals • Senior Foxhunter Second Rounds and Finals • Talent Seekers Qualifiers and Finals • All pony Competitions • All horse and pony Age classes • Children on Horses • All Amateur competitions • All Club & Just for Schools classes • All Academy competitions
BSJA Horse Boot Weight Limits
BSJA also has weight limits: the total maximum weight of equipment allowed to be added to one horse’s leg; front or hind (single or multiple boots, fetlock rings, etc.) is 500 grams. It is interesting to note that one Exoskeleton tendon boot weighs <200g and one fetlock boot weighs <100g and they are among the lightest boots on the market today. When it comes to horse welfare, this also means they have minimal impact on the horse’s movement and gait, but that is for another blog!
Finally, What About British Eventing?
For those who event, having to switch tack between phases can be a hassle, and it’s easy to forget as you grapple with saddle pads, bits and body protectors (and all whilst trying to keep your white breeches white)! Like British Showjumping, British Eventing follows the FEI boot rules for the show jumping phase. Therefore, the Exoskeleton Tendon and Fetlock Boots are legal for the show jumping phase of BE competitions. Interestingly, there seems to be no mention of boots for the cross-country phase, so you can also use your Exoskeleton Tendon and Fetlock boots during your cross-country round!
Exoskeleton Tendon and Fetlock Boots
Exoskeleton tendon and fetlock boots are legal for any FEI or BSJA Events and classes, so you can have your mind at rest that you will never be pulled up on the boot rules from British Novice right up to Grand Prix. They are also legal for BE cross-country and showjumping phases. Exoskeleton tendon boots and fetlock boots are available in black and tan and can be purchased via our online shop.
Note: This article is intended as a guide only. Whilst we are confident that this information is correct at the time of writing (Feb 2023), competition rules can change. We recommend checking with the relevant organisation(s) if you are unsure.