Should we even be concerned with what we put on our horses’ legs as far as the weight of horse boots. Afterall they can carry humans and are incredibly strong. In this blog we explore the reasoning of why lightweight boots may be a better choice.
Why are there weight limits on horses boots in FEI rules?
If the weight of horse boots did not matter, then the FEI would not put restrictions on weight. Horse boots must be less than 500g. It raises the question why, if they are such strong animals, surely a heavier boot that has more protection would be better than a lighter less protective boot. The weight of a horse boot will play an important factor in how a horse moves.
Even a horseshoe can alter the way a horse moves, at anywhere between 300g and 400g how can this cause such a change? This became apparent to me when I had a young horse, unshod, that did not lift their knees very high and was quite straight legged in trot. When mentioning this to the farrier they brushed it off and said don’t worry as soon as you get a set of shoes on that will stop the straight legs, and indeed it did.
How do weighted horse boots effect the flex movement of the horse?
By using weights on horses legs studies have researched how leg movement changes. How far the hoof is off the ground has been found to be significantly higher with leg weights. This will increase the amount the joints in the knee and hock flex. The effects of the weight of horse boots it is not just limited to the legs.
Weighted boots on the hind limbs showed increased range of movement for the lumbar area of the spine for how much the back flex’s up and down in walk. In trot there was a decreased range of movement for side to side, between the thoracic and lumbar region, which is just behind the saddle. Weighted boots on the forelimbs decreased the range of movement for lateral bending at the withers at the trot.
Is using weighted horse boots advantageous?
Knowledge of the effect of weighted boots on the back and leg movement is useful in training and rehabilitation of sport horses. Training exercises can be discussed with your vet and, or physio to incorporate weighted boots into training and rehabilitation. In general, everyday use it is important to keep boots as lightweight as possible to have the least impact on their movement. However by adding weight, this can be used as an advantage to help strengthen the horse.
What are the advantages of lightweight horse boots?
- Minimize Strain on the Horse’s Legs: Heavy boots that a horse is not used to and has not been trained regularly in, can add unnecessary strain to a horse’s legs. The exaggerated movement, or moving their legs and back in a different way, may not be natural. If the horse has to change their way of going to compensate for heavier boots then lightweight horse boots may help reduce strains in a competing horse.
- Reduce Heat Buildup: Heavy boots are more than likely made of more material which could trap heat against the horse’s legs, potentially causing overheating. Lightweight boots that are breathable are less likely to retain excessive heat. This may help to keep the horse’s legs cooler and reduce the risk of overheating-related issues.
- Minimize Risk of Rubbing: Heavy boots can be more prone to shifting and causing friction against the horse’s skin, which can lead to rubbing, chafing, and soreness. Lightweight boots are generally easier to secure properly, reducing the risk of friction-related problems.
- Less Fatigue for the Horse: Excessive weight on a horse’s legs can contribute to fatigue, affecting their overall performance and well-being. Lightweight horse boots could help to reduce this fatigue, allowing the horse to perform at its best.
- Decrease the Risk of Injury: Heavy boots could increase the risk of strain or injury to the horse, if the horse has not been trained in them especially if the horse is required to perform strenuous activities. Lightweight boots are less likely to contribute to these issues.
- Lightweight horse boots are only a positive if they remain light if waterlogged. Think how a sudden change in weight of cross-country boots after they have been through the water jump may affect the horse. If we continue to ask them to gallop and jump, how that would impact their movement and possibly their stamina? We all know how tiring mud caked wellies can be to walk in! Check how much water your boots hold and how much heavier they get.
Exoskeleton horse exercise boots weigh in at 200g, and are one of the lightest on the market. They hold minimal sweat and water so are unlikely to change their weights significantly if they do get wet. They can be used for every discipline and also are one of the most protective horse boots, as well as having excellent vents for the best in market air flow horse boots.