Fetlock and Tendon Boots: Why Materials Matter

Posted on April 20, 2023 by Categories: Exoskeleton
fetlock and tendon boots

When shopping for fetlock and tendon boots, we often see all sorts of language used to describe the materials used to create the boot. However, it’s worth knowing how the type and thickness of the materials can affect the performance of the exercise boot.

The Exoskeleton’s protective strike materials have evolved out of tried and tested human body-protection, which conforms to specific protection standards. It is interesting to note there are no standards that protective legwear for horses has to conform to. Cryochaps have researched the balance of thickness of material, versus protection, versus weight and bulk of the legwear to make sure the horse’s leg protection matches or exceeds the best on the market. 

A simple “squidge test” with our boot versus a competitor will confirm the protection; just press the boot between your fingers and feel the cushioning. How the vents are located and how big they are, is also important when shopping for a vented tendon boot. The external hard shell of the Exoskeleton has been fully opened up where possible, creating the best possible airflow over the back of the tendons. There were initial tests where the cushioning protective material was perforated, like you see in some other boots, this made no difference to air flow as they were too small and once strapped to the leg, they become blocked as the material is compressed to the leg.

This article explores why we chose the specific types and thickness of materials used to create our Exoskeleton fetlock and tendon boots. 

How Do Materials Affect The Performance of Fetlock and Tendon Boots?

Protection Vs Insulation

Fetlock and tendon boots are used to protect the horses’ legs from impacts. Whether out on a hack or riding cross country, the horses’ legs are vulnerable to overreach, brushing, and interference. However, exercise boots also have an insulating effect on the horse’s lower legs. Therefore, it is important to find a balance between an exercise boot that will offer suitable impact protection without unnecessary insulation.

Thicker materials tend to provide greater protection from impacts. However, thicker materials will also add to the insulating effect of the boot. On the other hand, boots with very thin inner linings may provide less protection. Furthermore, these boots may become uncomfortable for the horse if it can still feel the hard outer shell. However, they may result in less heat build up in the horse’s legs.

Some materials commonly used in tendon boots, such as neoprene, are great insulators. The graph below shows how the leg temperature differed when using a neoprene-lined versus a non-neoprene lined boot:

neoprene horse boots vs non neoprene horse boots temperature graph

At Cryochaps, we believe that we’ve found the right balance between impact protection and minimising heat build up within the legs. The Exoskeleton air flow tendon boots provide better impact protection than most other products on the market, whilst the extra large vents allow maximum air flow through the boot. 

You can find out more about the insulating effects of exercise boots and bandages in our blog.

Water Absorption

Just as a neoprene wetsuit keeps you warm in cold water, waterlogged exercise boots can increase heat build up in the legs. Whilst neoprene is often used in tendon boots due to shock absorption qualities, it is also a great insulator. 

If you go out on a wet, muddy hack, your neoprene padded fetlock and tendon boots are likely to still be wet the next day. This is because they have absorbed a lot of water. 

If you want to find out how much water your horse’s exercise boots will hold, try weighing them whilst they are dry, before submerging in water and weighing them again. 

Another issue with exercise boots that absorb a lot of water is that they will become heavy. This will tire the horse faster and affect their gait, causing them to pick their legs up higher and expend even more energy. This is why there is a weight limit for jumping boots – so jumping style is not altered.

The other negative of materials like neoprene, is that the wetter the skin, the softer it gets. This makes it more prone to rubbing. The Exoskeleton fetlock and tendon boots by Cryochaps use a specialised polymer, which holds minimal water and does not seal the sweat to the leg. Furthermore, with air being forced over the leg as it moves, sweaty legs dry out quickly, further reducing the chance of rubbing. 

Exoskeleton Open Fronted Tendon Boots

At Cryochaps, we tested how big the vents need to be to have a beneficial cooling effect and lessen the heat buildup. The answer is very big! The Exoskeleton’s protective strike material is thicker than most, helping to cushion against impacts. The external hard shell has been fully opened up where possible, creating the best possible airflow over the back of the tendons. The Exoskeleton fetlock and tendon boots are available to purchase in black or tan.

For cooling and protection all in one boot, choose The Exoskeleton tendon boots & fetlock boots.