Over the past few years, the equine world has exploded with new products, and not in the least when it comes to boots for your horse or pony. But where do you start when there is so much available? Sometimes it is simply best to go back to basics and in this instance, what could be a more obvious choice than the unassuming Brushing Boot.
Here we have explored some of the most frequently asked questions about brushing boots, to help you make the best decision the next time you’re shopping for boots for your four-legged companion:
What is a brushing boot?
Brushing boots (traditionally referred to as splint boots) are a type of protective boot used to protect the lower part of the horse’s leg. Originally, these boots were made from traditional materials such as leather, however, in 1981 Louise Woof designed the first brushing boot to be made from neoprene; thus paving the way for the vast assortment of modern horse boots to be made from synthetic materials.
What is a brushing boot used for and why?
Brushing Boots are a popular choice of boot to protect the horse’s lower leg during exercise from ‘brushing’ injuries. These are injuries that may occur if one leg, or hoof, strikes the opposite leg. These types of injuries are often seen during fast work, such as jumping or lunging, but brushing boots can also provide protection from minor scrapes and injuries during schooling, hacking, or turnout.
Does my horse need brushing boots?
Most ridden horses are likely to need leg protection at some point in time; and if you are unsure of the type of protection your horse needs, a pair of brushing boots is a good place to start! Often regarded as the most basic of horse boots, brushing boots are a staple piece of equipment for most horse owners. These boots offer effective protection against injury and light compression around the cannon bone, that can provide a supportive feeling for many horses, as well as reassurance for the rider. The modern brushing boot is also likely to be lightweight, durable and the most cost-effective boot for everyday use.
How do I find the right size?
Whilst sizing of brushing boots is likely to vary from brand to brand, there are a few key features you can look out for to make sure you have the best size and fit for your horse:
- Take measurements. Most boot brands will offer boots in sizes ‘small’, ‘medium’ and ‘large’ or ‘pony’, ‘cob’ and ‘full’, but these can be rather abstract terms (as many of us will have experienced when trying to shop for clothes – one shop’s ‘small’ is another’s ‘extra large’!), so having an idea of your horse or pony’s actual measurements can help. Particularly as it is not uncommon to need one size for the front legs, and a different size for the hind legs
- Look at the strike pad. The size and shape of the strike pad can not only dictate the amount of protection the boot can offer, but it can also influence how the boot stays in place on a horse’s leg. For example, a large round oval shape strike pad may appear to provide a large area of protection, but if fitted to a fine leg may cause the boots to twist or drop during use. Shaped strike pads (like the teardrop shape of the Tri-Zone Brushing Boots) are designed to ‘follow’ the movement of the horse’s opposing leg; making sure to provide an effective area of protection, without encouraging the boot to move.
- Look at the straps. The humble brushing boot is now available with every type of strap or fixing system imaginable; single lock, double lock, strapless, stud… The list goes on! When choosing your boots, be sure to look for a fixing system that is quick and easy to fit and remove, but that is also going to be secure.
What if a brushing boot is not enough?
For many horses in low to mid-level work, a set of brushing boots provides ample protection for everyday knocks and scrapes. However, the brushing boot has evolved into a plethora of different styles and designs that seek to provide your horse with either more protection or more support. For high impact disciplines, you may wish to look for a boot that has additional areas of strike protection, like the Tri-Zone All Sports Boots. Alternatively, for more precise support during schooling, you may look for a boot that offers more compression; in which case the Stretch & Flex Training Wraps, with full fetlock coverage, may be more desirable for a big moving or inexperienced horse.
So what’s the verdict?
A good pair of brushing boots should certainly be on the list of ‘must-have’ items for any horse owner, but there are points to consider before purchasing. Performance, fit, and protection are all key factors when choosing your new brushing boots.
Many riders now look for a balance between fashion and function when purchasing new products, and whilst it’s important to look and feel good with your horse, your boots should always be up to the task of protecting your horse’s delicate legs.