What to Look for When Buying Horse Boots for Protection?

Using exercise boots to protect the horse’s legs whilst riding is one of the most common reasons that riders purchase boots for their horses. This blog explores some simple tests you can do to work out how much protection a boot is giving the horse’s leg and what materials are best for horse boots.

Does my Horse Need Boots?

When buying protective boots for your horse, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure that you choose the right protection according to the level of impact your horse’s leg may sustain. Boots are designed to provide protection to your horse’s legs during various equestrian activities. Some horses are more prone to strike injuries due to conformation, gait, or behaviour, therefore may need to wear exercise boots. Depending on your horse’s needs and discipline, you may require exercise boots, tendon and / or fetlock boots, bell boots or brushing boots. Different types of exercise boot aim to protect slightly different areas, so it is important to consider what sort of protection your horse’s legs require.

What is the Most Common Reason a Horse Needs Boots?

Interference or brushing are the most common reasons a horse will need to wear leg protection. Brushing (interference) is due to contact between the hoof and adjacent limb during motion. It could be that you have a young horse that easily tires and therefore could knock themselves. Or you could be worried about your horse’s legs being hit. For example, when jumping, the horse may come into contact with the fence. During polo, mallets, balls, or other horses’ legs could also cause injury. So consideration must be taken on the level of protection the boots offer.

Are There Safety Standards that Horse Boots Need to be Certified to?

It is interesting to note that unlike the human riding hats and body protectors which need certification that comply with different types of impact, horse boots do not. So how much protection is a boot going to give? Many boot manufacturers do not openly advertise impact testing so how can you be sure what you are putting on your horse’s legs will actually protect them? Cryochaps have been impact tested against many well known brands of horse boots and are more protective, so transmit less force through the boot than all others tested.

Some Simple Tests to Ascertain Protectiveness of a Horse Boot.

We do not expect you to take an axe or hammer to the boot. Just a few simple tests can help you understand which boot is more sturdy than another.

How flexible do horse boots need to be?

If you can bend the boot easily, then if you imagine the horse’s hind leg striking the back of the front leg how much protection would that give? It possibly offers a lower level of protection. If a boot is more rigid, you can assume that there will be a greater level of protection. But if a boot is not soft and flexible then how can the leg move within in the boot? Most boots are designed not to interfere with joint movement so where the boots sit on the leg, along the canon bone the leg is rigid and does not move. Therefore the boot does not need to be flexible.

How much padding does a boot need?

If you squeeze the materials between your fingers, does it feel thick and robust or can you feel your fingers or the hard exterior of the boot? The more padding means less shock can be transferred through the boot to the leg. Most boots have around 5mm of padding, Exoskeleton has 8mm.

What are horse boots made of?

Nowadays most of the boots with a hard outer shell are made of TPU, a material specifically designed to withstand impact. Some boots do say they are made of carbon which seems a good choice as it is strong and light. However, the material is very expensive because it is more labour and technology intensive. Having a carbon boot may ‘sound’ protective but the carbon boots we impact tested were less protective than the Exoskeleton.

Research if the soft foam is neoprene or a material specialised in dissipating impact. Neoprene did not come out well in the impact test results against Exoskeleton tendon boots, but those boots integrated with impact specific materials came out better.

A horse boot is made of different materials with different designs, and all of this makes up the protection of the boot but hopefully these simple tests and explanation of materials will help you decide what boots have the best protection.

Cryochaps works with a factory that designs protective clothing for martial arts where the materials have to be certified in the clothing to ensure the best protection. Working alongside them and using their expertise has helped Cryochaps to create a range of protective horse boots that use the most impact protective materials and the Exoskeleton horse boots are proven to be one of the lightest and most protective horse boots on the market.