Best Horse Protective Boots

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

21 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
350 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best horse protective boots

Last Updated November 2019

A horse’s legs are delicate, and equestrian competition and pleasure riding put added strain on them. Aside from carrying the extra weight of the rider, there’s also the added concussion from jumping and galloping, as well as the possibility of injury even while doing something as innocuous as grazing. Protective boots that fit on a horse’s front and rear legs are a convenient way to help prevent injuries.

For a long time, bandages were used to help safeguard horses’ legs, and while some people still use them, especially in sports like polo, they’re time-consuming to put on and have limitations in wet weather. To make life easier, there are now several different protective boots that are easy to use and add a level of protection and piece of mind for the rider. There are also boots designed for traveling and boots designed for therapeutic use if a horse has been injured. Most well-equipped stables have a big tack box with an array of boots.

If you’re in the market for some horse protective boots, we can help. Our buying guide is full of useful information, and we’ve selected a few of our favorites to make your shopping even easier.

Travel boots aren’t just to protect against bumps or scrapes. When a horse doesn’t move for long periods, such as in transit, it can get swelling (edema) in the legs. The pressure from the boots acts in the same way as compression socks worn by people to help prevent swelling.

Key considerations

Fit

It’s essential that your horse wear only well-fitting boots. Boots that are too tight can do more harm than good, constricting blood flow and causing pain. Boots that rub can cause sores and even permanent hair loss at the chafing site. Boots that slip can cause the horse to trip, potentially causing an accident.

Size

Most protective boots come in three sizes: pony (small), cob (medium), and horse (large), though there are also specialty sizes like mini (extra small) or warmblood (extra large). However, each manufacturer is different, so check the dimensions before ordering. You can often glean good advice about the fit from online user reviews, too.

Uses

Make sure the protective boot you buy is designed for the right task. You’re going to need a tougher boot for sports like eventing or rodeo than you are for exercising in an arena. Many riders use a pair of lightweight boots for this kind of riding and save the tougher boots for competing.

Material

Leather: It used to be that sheepskin-lined leather was the go-to for protective boots, and these are the best-looking boots you can get. However, because they’re expensive and difficult to clean, they’re often saved for competition use.

Neoprene: Most protective boots now are made of lightweight, hard-wearing neoprene, which absorbs sweat and is unlikely to chafe.

Other: Another top pick is heavy-duty vinyl, and there are also gel-type plastic boots. Some fabrics are perforated to aid circulation. Bell boots, which fit over the hooves, are made of rubber or ballistic vinyl.

Fasteners

Buckles are most often found on leather boots and are the most secure, but hook-and-loop fasteners are popular and provide an easy way to secure most boots. Some boots incorporate elastic fasteners, and there are also stud closures and hook-and-eye fasteners.

EXPERT TIP

Always put protective boots on a horse when lounging it. Horse can easily get spooked or overly excited and injure themselves.


Staff  | BestReviews

Horse protective boot features

There are a lot of specialty boots in the equestrian world. Here are the main categories:

Shipping or travel boots

Horses travel the world for competition, and there are many products designed to keep them free from knocks and bumps whether jetting overseas or trailering down the road. Travel boots are quick and easy to use and have largely replaced the large, fluffy bandages previously used for trailering. They are usually made of a tough, ballistic nylon lined with padding and secured with Velcro. The front boots cover the knee down over the pastern, while the boots on the hind legs usually go over the hock to the pastern. This makes them a bit cumbersome for the horse to walk in, especially at first, and the boots may take some getting used to.

Brushing boots

These are also called splint boots, sport boots, or tendon boots, since they aim to protect the tendons from strain and help avoid splints (swelling on the bone) due to concussion from the ground or injury. A common cause of these injuries is from the horse striking itself, such as the back hoof hitting the front leg when galloping or quickly changing direction. This interference can also happen at any pace when a horse is still in the training stages and still unbalanced or getting used to carrying a rider. As such, these are the most common boots you’ll find, but they cover a wide range of styles from plain, lightweight neoprene boots to hard-shell, rigid boots.

Support boots

These are similar to brushing boots except they run longer on the leg to secure and support the suspensory ligament. These boots are usually made of a stretchy material to allow for ease of movement.

Overreach or bell boots

These rubber or tough ballistic vinyl boots pull on over the horse’s front hooves or are fastened around the pastern to protect the coronary band and the heel bulb. This is the area struck most by the rear hooves, so these boots are often used in conjunction with brushing boots. They’re only used on the front hooves except in extreme situations like team jumping or foxhunting, where injury could be caused by another horse. Some vinyl boots are padded, and you can find some to match your brushing boots for a streamlined look.

CAUTION

Using one boot instead of a pair can cause lameness because it can affect the horse’s gait and make it uneven. The exception to this is using a hoof boot as a replacement for a lost shoe.

Skid boots

These boots are designed to protect the fetlock when a horse comes to a sliding stop, such as in barrel racing, rodeo, or cutting. These boots are made of a tough vinyl or leather piece that covers the fetlock and is fastened at the front with buckles or Velcro.

Open-front boots

These boots go on the front legs and are mostly used by show jumpers to protect the sides and back of the cannon bones. As the name suggests, they are open in front so that the horse doesn’t become desensitized to the feel of the rails in the jumps.

Hoof boots

Horses that are particularly prone to irritation from bug bites can benefit from wearing fly boots during turnout. These boots are made of mesh or other lightweight, breathable fabric to keep the bugs away and the horse cool.

Fly boots

Horses that are particularly prone to irritation from bug bites can benefit from wearing fly boots during turnout. These boots are made of mesh or other lightweight, breathable fabric to keep the bugs away and the horse cool.

Medicinal/therapeutic boots

In much the same way that boots replace bandages for riding, they are now often used to help keep poultices or other medications on the horse’s legs. These boots come in a variety of shapes for knees, hocks, hooves, and more. There are also a number of boots on the market that are designed to add an extra layer of drug-free therapy to help horses overcome injuries. Some use magnets, others have liquid titanium, and some have cooling packs. It’s best to consult with your vet before deciding on boots to make sure they fit into the recommended protocol.

Horse protective boot prices

Brushing boots: You can get low-cost brushing boots for about $20 per pair, but the high-end versions will run more like $70 per pair.

Travel boots: These are usually sold as a set of four and run from $40 to $160 per set.

Therapeutic boots: These can cost up to $350 per pair.

EXPERT TIP

The most secure overreach boots are the ones you pull on rather than fasten, but they can be difficult to put on and take off. Try stretching them just before putting them on (like you do with a balloon before blowing it up) and put Vaseline around the hoof.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Be careful when using travel boots for the first time. Some horses may look like they’re walking on the moon the first time they wear them and even kick out. Some will not tolerate the back boots covering the hocks, so you might want to choose shorter boots for the hind legs. And some horses just hate boots, in which case you’ll have to go old school and use bandages.
  • Wash the boots carefully. If you want to clean your horse boots in the washing machine, put them in an old pillowcase first. That way, you won’t end up with a machine full of horse hair. It’s also helpful to hose them off first, too.

Other products we considered

We found a few other products if the ones in our matrix don’t suit. If you like the look of leather brushing boots but don’t want to deal with all that cleaning and soaping, check out the Kavallerie Dressage Boots, which sport faux leather with a fleece lining. The outer shell is tough and well fitting, and the look is very classic. The Professional’s Choice VenTech All-Purpose Boots are just one style in the company’s good range of boots. They feature a breathable lining aimed to improve airflow, as well as an extra-strong PVC strike patch. You might also like the company’s snazzy Overreach Boots that feature a rainbow of color choices and patterns, including a burgundy leopard print.

Boots should fit snugly and not move at all, but they shouldn’t be so tight that they impede blood flow. Overreach boots should move side to side but not up and down. You should be able to fit a fingertip between the boot and the horse.

FAQ

Q. Can I use my brushing boots in competition?
A.
Equine sports allow boots in competition, although in order to look the part you might want to stick to black, brown, or white boots rather than loud colors. Some competitions may have rules about hoof boots, although this is changing as more people are turning to them in lieu of shoes. Dressage does not allow any kind of boot. This is because the dressage test is aimed at showing how sound, well trained, and balanced your horse is (thus, not needing boots). It also makes it easier for the judges to assess the horse’s movement.

Q. How do I know which boot goes where?
A.
The longer boots are for the rear legs, and the fasteners should always be on the outside. It should be obvious which is the top of the boot, but there is usually a manufacturer’s logo that you can use to confirm which is the right way up.

Q. Won’t my horse’s legs get too hot wearing boots?
A.
It’s certainly important that the horse’s legs don’t overheat, so it’s worth buying boots that are made of breathable fabrics or are designed to allow airflow. Also, make sure you hose off your horse’s legs after exercising to cool and clean them. Keep the boots clean and free of dried gunk and debris to stop skin infections from sweat.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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