9 Best Leg Boots for Horses and Why You Need Them


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At a recent dressage competition, I noticed an unusually high number of horses wearing leg boots. The increase in the frequency of leg boots being used across equine disciplines made me wonder why they are gaining popularity and which ones are the best.

The best protective leg boots are Kavallerie Dressage Boots, and Iconoclast Orthopedic Support Boots are the best supportive leg boots. Horse leg boots are critical for horses that strike their hooves against another hoof or leg and are also useful to add support to the horse’s lower legs.

Here are my picks for the 9 best horse leg boots:

Please continue reading to find out why horse boots are needed, learn about the different types and how I chose the leg boots that made our list, and then I review each set of boots.

Why horses need leg boots?

Most horse owners use leg boots to protect against interference injuries. But leg boots have grown in popularity because they offer many other benefits.

Lower leg injuries are common in equine activities, and leg boots are useful in preventing some of these. Risk factors for traumatic injury include over-reaching or striking their legs on branches or being hit by stones thrown up from the ground.

Over the years, I have come across horses who suffered leg injuries that could’ve been prevented with a good set of leg boots. My son returned from a trail ride recently, and his horse’s lower legs were scraped up; a set of proper leg boots would’ve prevented this.

There are various leg boot types; some models provide support, while others offer a protective layer covering their lower legs, and others can be used for multiple purposes. Below, I discuss in detail the six best horse leg boots.

Whether it be pleasure riding, regular exercise, or a sporting event, some horses need boots to protect their legs from injuries. These injuries can be of different types.

Some horses have a slim build or gait irregularities that can cause them to strike their front limbs with their hind hoofs or strike against the inner cannon bone with the opposite leg, which is called brushing or interference.

These injuries can also occur commonly in strenuous work, competitions, and exercises. Injuries to the fetlock and pastern are especially dangerous because they can result in lameness.

Horse leg boots protect the cannon bone, the fetlock, pastern, and ligaments from friction, brushing, and rough terrains. They are made of several kinds of materials, including leather, sheepskin, plastic, and neoprene.

Not all horses need leg boots.

Some horses don’t need leg boots. They’re designed for horses that overreach, need lower leg protection or tendon and joint support. In these instances, horse leg boots are essential equipment.

In showjumping, it’s unusual to see horses competing without leg protection; however, in horse racing, protective boots are used in training but are rarely used in a race.

Many trainers believe running horses’ legs get too hot when wearing boots, and they could cause more harm than benefit. This argument is not without merit.

If your horse doesn’t need leg protection, don’t put leg boots on your horse. Not only can it cause unnecessary heat, but also leg boots can cause pattern dermatitis, restrict blood flow, limit motion, and cause abrasions from rubbing.

Types of horse leg boots

There are various types of horse leg boots, each suitable for a different activity. When you choose horse leg boots specific to your horse’s discipline, it’s designed to protect your horse while still allowing it to perform.

Let us look at the six most common horse leg boots.

Brushing Boots

Brushing boots are also known as splint boots. They are worn on all four legs and protect the lower leg from brushing injuries.  When a horse’s leg or hoof strikes the inner side of its opposite leg, the damage is called brushing injury.

Brushing boots start below the knee and cover the fetlock joint, protecting the cannon bone and the ankle. Usually made of neoprene, they are used in regular exercise, dressage, and general riding.

Cost-effective, lightweight, and durable, brushing boots are excellent for everyday use. They are especially helpful for horses that are built narrow and are unbalanced.

Tendon Boots

Also called open front boots, these boots are worn on a horse’s front legs. As their name indicates, they have an open front, only covering the sides and back of the cannon bone and protecting the tendons from the hind limbs. They also protect the fetlock joint.

These boots often have leather, elastic, or Velcro straps across the front of the cannon bone and padding and a stiffer material at the back. They are most often used in jumping, where the open front design allows the horse to feel an obstacle if it strikes it with the foreleg.

Fetlock Boots

Also called ankle boots, these are worn on the hind limbs and only cover the fetlock area. Fetlock boots are worn to provide the horse support and protection from injury from the other back leg.

These injuries occur because of the horse’s conformation, young age, or tiredness, leading to lameness. The injuries can be very severe when the horse is shod.

Fetlock boots protect the fetlock joint and are most often worn in combination with tendon boots in jumping.

Skid Boots

Skid boots are fetlock boots worn on the hind legs and provide an extra layer of protection to prevent abrasion injuries. When horses stop suddenly, they slide, and friction is created, resulting in brush burns if left unprotected.

Skid boots protect the area most likely to be affected by sliding stops, the fetlock joint. They also cover the pasterns. Skid boots are standard in western disciplines like roping, reining, or barrel racing, where the horse has to come to a sliding stop and their legs need protection from friction burns.

Sports Medicine Boots

Sports medicine boots provide complete protection to tendons, ligaments, and joints of all four legs. They are made of neoprene, a material that offers protection as well as some stretch.

These boots extend from below the knee or hock to the top of the pasterns. They provide support to the suspensory ligament of the front and hind legs. If your horse has problems with its tendons or soreness after working, you should consider using ice boots.

I wrote an article on the best ice boots for horses legs you can check out here: The 6 Best Ice Boots for Horses Legs, and Why You Need Them

Sports medicine boots are suitable when horses have to do strenuous, intense work. They are common in barrel racing, reining, endurance, polo matches, etc. They are also used in exercise and training.

Shipping Boots

Shipping boots are travel boots covering a horse’s leg from knee to heel or from hock to heel. Made of durable nylon, they protect the front and hind legs from damage during shipping.

These boots are loose-fitting at the top and bottom to allow the horse to move. Below is a picture of shipping boots.

What is the difference between tendon and brushing boots?

Tendon boots are only worn on the front limbs of a horse. They protect the sides and back of the cannon bone and the fetlock joint from injuries from the back legs and hoofs. They leave the front of the cannon bone exposed, helping a horse feel the obstacles in jumping. Often, they are worn in combination with ankle boots.

Brushing boots, on the other hand, are worn on all four legs. They protect from injury of the inner leg caused by the striking of the opposite leg. They also protect the front limbs from damage from the back hoofs.

Do horses need shipping boots?

Horses often need to travel inside a trailer, whether for trail riding or a sports competition. At such times, horse owners need to decide if the horse needs shipping boots or not.

We either wrap our horse’s legs or use shipping boots; it depends on the horse. Some horses don’t like the wraps and prefer shipping boots, and others seem uncomfortable in shipping boots, especially if they aren’t used to them.

For me, shipping boots are easy to put on and provide better protection for the horses when we haul them. They help protect horses’ lower legs from trauma if they lose their balance while in the trailer or slip during loading and unloading.

Not all horses need shipping boots during transport. We have a mature gelding that is calm and stable when riding in a trailer and travels fine without shipping boots. If a horse is accustomed to hauling, I have no problem shipping them without leg boots.

Do horses need leg boots for trail riding?

When we trail ride, it’s not uncommon for us to leave the beaten path and start trailblazing. Finding new ways through the woods is an adventure, but it comes with risks.

Often our horses travel through thick brush and over fallen trees. Trail riding, our preferred way, inevitably exposes our horse’s lower legs to being repeatedly struck, and none of us want to see our horses hurt.

To protect their legs, I suggest wearing leg boots. Even a decent pair of leg boots provide protection and could be the difference between spending money on a vet or a new pair of boots.

Some riders use bell boots for trail riding but while they protect the horse’s hoofs, brushing boots are ideal for protecting its legs against damage because they cover the region most likely to be struck.

Some of the best horse leg boots

Below are the best horse leg boots, some offer protection against interference injuries, and others are for support.

1. Dressage Boots for Horses by Kavallerie: Pro-K 3D Air-Mesh Horse Boots

Kavallerie makes a lot of high-quality horse products, including a wide variety of leg boots. Their products are typically made of superior material compared to other brands; however, they are also more expensive.

For example, the Kavallerie 3D boots are made with a breathable exterior that allows heat to dissipate. This feature is essential for horses that work hard in their boots.

Horses’ legs get hot under leg boots, which isn’t good for their tendons. Kavallerie considered this in their design but didn’t sacrifice protection. The boots are made of tough material that can protect your horse against a substantial blow.

Another nice feature is the ability to put on and remove the boots with little difficulty. Overall these boots are superior to many of the others on the market.

Horse owners that’s used these boots love the way they look and support their horses’ legs. You can click here to read customer reviews.

2. Iconoclast Orthopedic Support Boots – Hind Legs

The Iconoclast orthopedic support boots fit tight and provide exceptional support for suspensory ligaments and fetlock joints in horses’ lower legs. They are secured with a criss-cross of velcro straps that keeps them in place.

These are dual-purpose boots that protect horses’ legs from interference without restricting flexibility, plus provides tendon support. They are outstanding all-around horse leg boots.

My only concerns are that the velcro tends to pick up debris, and if you use white leg boots, these don’t clean easily. One other thing is that these boots emphasize support and are not as breathable as the Kavallerie model.

Customer reviews: Customers find these boots easy to put on and take off, plus they provide superior support and protection Check out what others have to say.

3. Shires ARMA Neoprene Brushing Boots

These brushing boots are made of neoprene and are suitable for daily protection. The neoprene absorbs shocks, protecting your horse from blows and scuffs.

Picture of a horses legs wearing Shires ARMA neoprene brushing boots

The Shires brushing boots are easy to put on and take off. They provide sufficient support for your horses’ legs, and what I like about them is that they are easy to clean.

Customer reviews: 62 customers globally gave these boots a 4.4-star rating. Amazon customer reviews

The boots have an ergonomic fit and come with double touch close fastenings.

They are sold in pairs and are available in five sizes and four colors.

4. Royal Tendon Open Front Boot Pair

These tendon boots are made from a mix of nylon, neoprene, and Welltex ceramic infused fabric. Their high density makes them shock-resistant, and they clean easily and are quite durable.

They come with brass knuckles and elastic straps, making them easy to get on and off a horse’s legs and keep them securely in place. They provide essential protection to the foreleg tendons, making them ideal for jumping.

Customer reviews: These boots have a 4.8-star rating from 27 customers—Amazon customer reviews.

5. HORZE Fetlock Boots

These fetlock boots are compact, lightweight, and adjustable. Their hard outer shell protects the horse’s fetlocks from knocks during jumping or turnout and a soft, inner neoprene lining that prevents friction between the skin and the boot.

Picture of Horze fetlock boots,

Customer reviews: 62 customers have rated these boots 4.4 out of 5.Amazon customer reviews.

The hook and loop closures are strong and reliable, keeping the boots in place. These are the smaller boots that cover only the fetlock. They’re great to use during training.

These boots have a simple, elegant design and come in various colors.

6. Classic Rope Company Skid Boots

Horses that stop and slide need protection, and if you’re shopping for a new pair of skid boots, I highly recommend the Classic Rope Company skid boots. They can take a beating and still look new. Just spray them off with a hose to clean.

Picture of Classic  Rope Company skid boots,

These boots have a flexible fit and smooth texture. Made from Neolite, they are abrasion-resistant. They have no-turn rolls in the interior, which ensures a proper fit for most horses.

However, for some horses, the top strap is short and doesn’t fit. If this is the case with your horse, simply return it; Amazon takes back products without a hassle.

The closure system is safe and straightforward. Its neoprene material provides maximum protection to the horse.

Customer reviews: These boots have a 4.3-star rating—Amazon customer reviews.

7. TGW Riding Sports Medicine Boots

These riding boots are double stitched for quality and can be used in both practice and competitions. They have a soft neoprene outer shell that not only protects the horse’s tendons and ligaments but is also durable against water and mud.

Picture of TGW Riding Sports Medicine boots,

The boots are lightweight and padded, allowing free movement of limbs. Triple Velcro closure ensures the boots stay on and provide support and protection to the horse.

Customer reviews: 154 customers have rated the boots 4.3 out of 5—Amazon customer reviews.

8. Exselle Shipping Boots

If your horse isn’t used to traveling around in a trailer, I recommend using these shipping boots. This is a set of four boots that provides excellent safety.

Exselle shipping boots,leg boots,

They come with four extensive touch tape closures, durable kick plates, and thick outer foam, lined with smooth satin on the inside.

If your horse is new to road travel, these boots will help protect him from injuries during shipping. Be aware they do run a little small, so they may not fit if you have a large horse.

Customer reviews: They have a modest rating of 4.4 stars—Amazon customer reviews.

FAQ

Why are ice boots used on horses?

Ice boots provide a way to use cold therapy on horses’ legs easily. The cold against horses’ legs helps them recover from injuries and reduce heat and swelling in their legs after a strenuous workout.
Before ice boots were readily available, we stood our horses in buckets of ice water.
To see my favorite equine ice boots check out this article: The 6 Best Ice Boots for Horses Legs, and Why You Need Them

Why do horses need hoof boots?

Hoof boots are used on barefoot horses to provided cushion, protection, and traction for their feet. They are handy for horses that can’t tolerate wearing shoes because they have an injury or substandard hoof walls.
If you want to learn more about hoof boots and see my favorite ones, read this article: Top Three Hoof Boots and Bell Boots.

Why do wild horses not need shoes?

Wild horses typically have thick, durable soles and strong hooves suitable for their terrain, so shoes aren’t necessary. Their feet develop this way from growing-up barefoot and their genes.
Like people, those who always wear shoes have tender feet and ones that walk around barefoot develop thick soles.
Evolution also influenced the lack of need for shoes—wild horses with poor feet typically died-off, leaving horses with strong feet to reproduce and have offspring with strong hooves and durable soles.

Conclusion

Horse leg boots come in different shapes, each suitable for a different kind of horse-riding activity. To avoid lameness and ensure optimal health, you should get your horse proper leg boots.

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Miles Henry

I love animals! Especially horses, I've been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others. I have bought, sold, and broke racehorse yearlings. I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn't make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines. Miles Henry

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