Choosing the Right Horse Boots Types for Your Horse

Just like a well-fitted pair of shoes makes all the difference to us, the right horse boots are crucial for the safety and comfort of our equine companions. Could you imagine running a marathon in ill-fitted shoes? The same applies to our horses. Whether they are show jumpers, race horses, or beloved pets, equipping them with the right boots is paramount to their comfort and performance. But how do you navigate through the world of horse boots types? Don’t fret! This guide has got you covered.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the different types of horse boots and their uses
  • Ensure proper fit & material selection for optimal protection & comfort
  • Regularly clean, inspect, and replace boots to maintain performance

Understanding Different Horse Boots Types

different horse boots

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When we talk about horse boots, we’re not referring to a one-size-fits-all solution. Horse boots come in a variety of styles, each designed to cater to a specific need or discipline. From providing protection during exercise to supporting the horse’s legs during high-intensity activities like jumping, the right horse boots act as a shield against potential injuries.

Some of the most common types of horse boots used by horse owners are:

Each type serves a unique purpose, from safeguarding against potential injuries during exercise or competition to protecting the fetlock joint from overreaching injuries. The materials used in their construction also vary, with options such as neoprene, leather, and fleece lining the insides for increased comfort and protection.

Brushing / Splint Boots

Let’s start with brushing boots, the jack of all trades in the world of horse boots. Brushing boots are the versatile champions designed to protect the horse’s legs during exercise and competition, thereby preventing injury or splints. Think of them as the all-terrain running shoes in the equine world.

splint boots

Thinline Splint Boots

The lower part of a horse’s legs is particularly vulnerable to injury due to the presence of the tendon. A well-fitted protective boot can be a real lifesaver, providing the much-needed protective layer against potential injuries to the horse’s leg.

However, it’s worth noting that while brushing boots are great for daily exercise or warming up, they are not allowed in a dressage test.

Tendon Boots

Next up, we have the tendon boots. These boots are specifically designed to safeguard the tendons from impact and to guard the fetlock area of the front legs from trauma. Their design is unique, featuring an open front that protects the tendons while leaving the cannon bone exposed.

The primary purpose of open front boots is for jumping. They help protect the horse’s legs from hitting and injuring themselves while jumping over fences or obstacles. An example of these boots is the Lami-Cell® PRO Gel Tendon Boots, which feature a soft neoprene lining, an inner layer of Technical Shock Absorbing Gel, and elasticized lock straps for a secure fit.

fetlock boots

Fetlock Boots

Now, let’s talk about fetlock boots. These boots, also referred to as brushing boots or ankle boots, are protective gear designed to be worn on a horse’s hind legs. They are designed to provide protection to the inner area of a horse’s legs from potential injuries caused by the hock striking the lower leg and fetlock.

Fetlock boots come in two designs: an all-purpose boot with extra padding inside, and a design that wraps around the back of the joint with an open front. This boot is typically secured in place using either a wide velcro strap or two elastic straps. Tall hind boots offer increased protection and are usually employed during the cross-country phase of eventing competitions, where cross country boots are essential.

Bell Boots/Overreach Boots


Last but not least, we have bell boots, also known as overreach boots. These boots are designed to wrap around the top of the hoof, providing coverage for the heel and a majority of the hoof. They serve a crucial role in preventing overreaching, which is when a horse strikes his front heels with the toes of his back feet. Hoof boots, like bell boots, offer additional protection for your horse’s hooves.

Bell boots are versatile and can be worn while riding or turning out in the paddock, just like country boots, stable boots, and splint boots. They are available in a variety of materials and closure options, providing a tailored fit for your horse’s needs. The Acavello hoof boot, for example, features elasticity and ready-to-cut edges that can be adapted to the shape of the hoof.

Specialty Boots for Specific Needs

Thinline air sock boots

Thinline Air Shock Boots

Beyond traditional brushing, tendon, fetlock, and bell boots, there’s a whole universe of specialty boots designed to serve specific needs. These include therapy boots, which are used for recovery and healing, medical boots for support and wound care, and travel boots for leg protection while travelling. Each type of these specialty boots is designed with a specific purpose in mind, offering customized support for your horse.

Whether your horse is recovering from an injury, requires additional support due to a medical condition, or is frequently travelling, specialty boots can provide the added protection required. The right specialty boot can make a significant difference in your horse’s comfort and recovery process.

Therapy Boots

Therapy boots are a crucial tool for aiding the healing process of a horse’s feet from injuries. They provide an alternative to the traditional wrapping of the feet and hooves and are used short-term. These boots are designed to aid horses in the healing process from injuries or recuperation following activity through the application of magnetic, ice, or bio-ceramic technology, specifically targeted towards the lower limbs and hooves.

For example, the therapeutic hoof sock features a flexible, felt insert for use with hoof medicine, Velcro reinforced tabs, and is machine washable. Another type of therapy boot is the magnetic boot, which has been shown to augment blood circulation in the horse’s leg, thereby facilitating the healing process.

Medical Boots

Designed to provide dressing for wounds and support for tendons and ligaments, medical boots serve a crucial role in a horse’s healing process. Medical boots are available in a range of styles and materials, such as neoprene, leather, and synthetic materials. These boots can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including tendon and ligament injuries, abscesses, thrush, and puncture wounds.

It is important to note, however, that when utilizing medical boots, it is imperative to ensure that they fit properly and are neither too tight nor too loose. Additionally, it is essential to ensure that the boots are regularly cleaned and maintained to avoid the spread of infection.

Travel Boots

horse travel boots

Travel boots are designed to protect a horse’s legs during transport, providing additional padding and covering a considerable portion of the horse’s legs to prevent any injuries that may occur during travel. They are straightforward to attach and remove, featuring Velcro straps for expedient application and removal, and are a must-have for horse owners who frequently transport their horses.

Choosing the right travel boot involves considering the size and fit, material, and closure type. Additionally, it is essential to ensure the boots provide comfort and adequate protection for your horse. And after every journey, don’t forget to clean them and store them in a dry, cool place.

Horse Boot Sizing and Fit

Finding the right size and fit for your horse’s boots is just as crucial as choosing the right type. just like it is for fitting your saddle. A poor fit can lead to a host of issues, including:

  • Discomfort and restricted movement
  • More serious issues like injuries
  • Accumulation of dirt inside the boot, leading to abrasions
  • Damage to the horse’s tendons if the boot is overly tight

It is important to ensure that you wear shoes, specifically protective boots, that fit properly to avoid these problems.

Estimating boot size involves considering factors like the horse’s height, weight, breed, and leg circumference. Once these measurements are taken, they can be compared to the sizing chart of the particular brand of horse boots. It’s a bit like finding the perfect pair of running shoes – a good fit ensures optimal performance and comfort.

Estimating Boot Size

To estimate your horse’s boot size, you need to take into consideration the horse’s height, weight, breed, and leg circumference. This is much like how you would measure your foot for a new pair of shoes. You can take these measurements and then compare them to the sizing chart provided by the boot manufacturer to determine the size of the boot.

If the length and width measurements differ, the larger size should be chosen. This is to ensure that the boot provides enough coverage and does not restrict movement. Remember, a little room for movement is better than a tight fit that could cause discomfort or injury.

Checking the Fit

Once you’ve estimated the boot size, the next step is to check the fit. This involves ensuring that the length covers most of the cannon bone and inside of the fetlock but does not rise to the back of the knee. It’s a delicate balance between coverage and freedom of movement, similar to finding the perfect fitting glove.

To ensure that the boot is not too tight or too loose, you should be able to slide one finger between the boot and the horse’s leg. An easy way to remember this is to think of the old adage “fits like a glove.” If it’s too tight or too loose, it’s not the right fit.

Materials and Closures: Choosing the Right Combination

Just like with our shoes, the materials and closures used in horse boots can greatly impact their comfort and effectiveness. Horse boots can be made from a variety of materials, such as:

Each material has its own unique advantages. For example, Neoprene provides support and durability, while mesh offers breathability.

The closure of the boot is just as important as the material. Closure options include Velcro, buckles, and pull-on styles. Each closure type has its own set of pros and cons, from the easy application and removal of Velcro to the secure fit of buckles.

Common Materials

Horse boots are typically constructed from materials such as neoprene, plastic, sheepskin, leather, gel, mesh, nylon, felt, and rubber. Neoprene, a synthetic rubber material, is widely used in horse boots for its durability and supportive properties.

Mesh is a lightweight material that allows for ventilation, making it a popular choice for use in horse boots to keep the horse’s feet cool and comfortable. Nylon, on the other hand, is strong and durable, offering protective qualities while remaining lightweight.

Closure Options

When it comes to closures, horse boots can be equipped with:

  • Buckles
  • Hook and stud closures
  • Hook and loop closures
  • Elastic straps for a more customized fit

Each closure type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Buckles offer a secure closure, however they can be tricky to adjust and may necessitate assistance from another individual. Hook and stud closures are straightforward to use and offer a reliable fit, but may be challenging to adjust. Hook and loop closures, or Velcro, are simple to attach and detach, but may not offer as tight a fit as buckles or hook and stud closures.

Caring for Your Horse’s Boots

Caring for your horse’s boots is just as important as selecting the right pair. Regular maintenance can extend the life of the boots and ensure they continue to provide optimal performance and protection. This involves cleaning the boots regularly, storing them properly, and replacing them when they start to show signs of wear or damage.

Cleaning your horse’s boots is a simple process. Use a soft brush to remove dirt and sand from seams and zippers. Then, clean with a wet cloth or a soft soap and apply shoe polish with a brush.

It’s important to inspect the boots regularly for signs of wear and damage so they can be replaced if necessary.

Cleaning Tips

To properly care for horse boots, follow these steps:

  1. Brush off any excess dirt prior to cleaning.
  2. Use a mild detergent or soap and water to clean the boots.
  3. Avoid machine washing, as it can damage the materials of the boots.
  4. Do not use harsh chemicals, as they may cause discomfort to the horse.

Once the boots are cleaned, they should be allowed to air dry. Using a dryer or exposing the boots to excessive heat can damage the materials and decrease the lifespan of the boots. Remember, a clean boot is a comfortable boot!

Storage and Replacement

Proper storage is key to maintaining the longevity of your horse’s boots. Here are some tips:

  • Store horse boots in a cool, dry environment with adequate ventilation.
  • Use baking soda to eliminate any unpleasant odors.
  • Apply a diluted vinegar solution to disinfect the interior.

In terms of replacement, it’s important to regularly inspect your horse’s boots for signs of wear and damage. Signs that a replacement is necessary include:

  • Cracks
  • Tears
  • Discoloration of the material
  • Loose or broken straps or buckles


From choosing the right type of boot to ensuring the perfect fit, caring for horse boots is a task that requires knowledge and attention to detail. Whether your horse is a high-performance athlete or a beloved pet, the right boot can make all the difference in their comfort and performance.

So remember: the key to a happy, healthy horse is not just in the saddle or the feed but in the boots you choose. Because when it comes to your horse’s well-being, every step counts!

Popular Questions

What different horse boots do?

Tendon boots protect the horse’s front legs from strikes, while fetlock boots guard the hind fetlocks from brushing injuries.

There are many different styles available to suit all needs.

What are the different types of horse bell boots?

There are two types of horse bell boots – pull-on, made of rubber that slide over your horse’s foot, and open bell boots with velcro closures. Both provide excellent protection and are easy to clean for horses who often get their feet wet.

What’s the difference between tendon and brushing boots?

Tendon boots are harder to wear than brushing boots and are designed to provide more protection and impact absorption. They are suitable for all types of riding, but most often used for show-jumping, eventing and cross-country.

These boots are designed to fit snugly around the horse’s leg and provide support and protection to the tendons and ligaments. They are made from a variety of materials, including nylon.

What are therapy boots used for?

Therapy boots are used to aid horses in the healing process from injuries or recovery after activity. They help reduce inflammation, provide support, and encourage circulation.

How do I estimate the correct boot size for my horse?

To get the correct size of horse boots for your horse, measure its height, weight, breed and leg circumference. Compare these measurements to the brand’s sizing chart for the best fit.

Check the size of the boots before you buy them. Make sure they fit snugly and don’t rub against your horse’s legs. Look for boots that are made of breathable materials and have a good fit.