Brushing boots, also called splint boots, are placed over the lower limbs of a horse’s legs and protect them from scratches and bruises that can occur when the horse is jumping over a wooden fence or even if its legs brush up against one another as it’s jumping or exercising. There is little doubt that protective boots of any type are advantageous to horses, particularly in certain situations, but does this mean your horse really needs to be wearing these boots? As you can imagine, the answer varies depending on who you ask, so the most common answer to this question is – it depends!
What Are Brushing Boots?
Brushing boots offer excellent protection against injuries that can occur when the hooves brush up against one another, and this can happen while the horse is exercising, jumping, lungeing, eventing, or reining. It doesn’t just happen when hooves brush up against the other leg. It also happens when fetlock or cannon bones hit one another. As you can imagine, all of these things result in a lot of pain for the horse, not to mention the chance for serious, long-term injury. A good brushing boot can help because it provides thickness and firm support for the lower leg, so if brushing does occur, the chances of pain or serious damage are greatly reduced.
There are also several other reasons why your horse may need brushing boots. For example, if you are in the field and your horse suddenly gets a little too excited, you may worry about it accidentally injuring its lower leg and wish to place brushing boots on your horse. Young or unfit horses, as well as horses that become extra-tired because they’ve been through a lot of training or work, can also benefit from wearing brushing boots. Let’s face it, injuries are always accidents, and if your horse is wearing a good set of brushing boots, its lower legs are simply better protected from these accidents and the injuries they can cause.
Do Brushing Boots Need to Be on All Four Legs?
Although the lower limbs of a horse’s front legs are more susceptible to injuries such as scrapes, bruises, and tendon damage, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the back two legs and leave them uncovered. Indeed, if you’re going to use boots on your horse anyway, most experts agree that you should go ahead and place them on all four of the horse’s legs. After all, exercising and training require the use of all four legs, and there is always the possibility that the back legs, too, can suffer injuries or damage.
One of the reasons for this recommendation is that often, horses with boots only on the front two legs sometimes put more pressure on those legs as they gallop – probably because those are the legs that are the most comfortable – which can result in uneven weight distribution among the four legs. This means the horse will automatically put more weight and pressure on the front two legs every time it takes a step, and this can cause a soreness and weakness if it spends too long putting all of the pressure on those two legs.
A horse wearing boots on all four legs will naturally distribute its weight evenly amongst those four legs, resulting in more comfort and less chances of serious injury or pain to the front two legs. In other words, a horse is just more comfortable wearing brushing boots on all four of his legs, which always results in better weight distribution and less soreness every time it’s participating in any type of activity.
What Is Interference?
When a horse interferes, it means his leg is brushing up against his other leg; in other words, it is interfering with the other leg and with the activity it’s supposed to be participating in. When you take your horse out for exercise or training and you notice dirt or scuff marks on the inside of its leg afterward, this is usually a sign of interference. Another sign could be a click-click noise as it’s galloping, which usually means its hoof is brushing up against his other leg. This can be painful for a horse and is made much worse if it’s wearing shoes, so in these cases, your horse may very well need brushing boots of some type.
When a horse’s hoof hits against flesh and bone, it’s going to be painful. If your horse’s activity includes tight, quick movements or any type of exaggerated movements, including any activity in unusually deep footing, a good set of brushing boots can be a real miracle-worker. Almost any type of activity you put your horse through gives it the potential for interference, but fortunately the solution is simple: buy your horse a high-quality set of brushing boots, which are less expensive and easier to find than you might think.
What Are Brushing Boots Made of?
Like products for humans, brushing boots for horses can be made out of various materials, but most are made out of either leather or neoprene. At one time, all brushing boots were made of leather, but leather is on the expensive side and can even dry out and become brittle with too much exposure to water or dampness. In addition, the stitching included on leather brushing boots can wear out over time, even if you take excellent care of the boots. For these and other reasons, neoprene is becoming more common when you feel your horse could use a good set of brushing boots.
Neoprene brushing boots are lightweight and inexpensive, and unlike other types of boots, they do not attract debris or water, making them easy to keep clean and to care for. In addition, brushing boots made out of neoprene can be rinsed off if you like because the water won’t soak up into the boot, making them even easier to clean. Unfortunately, neoprene boots don’t “breathe” and, therefore, if you feel you need brushing boots for your horses, you should consider not keeping them on for long periods of time – especially not overnight.
Of course, there are brushing boots that offer some of the benefits of both leather and neoprene brushing boots, as well as those with extra features that make wearing the boots a lot more comfortable for the horse. For example, you can now purchase brushing boots with liners that are extra thick and soft, including those made with faux fur and which offer extra comfort for the horse. With these boots, it hardly matters which material was used to make them because the only thing your horse will notice is the super-soft comfort it feels each time it wears them.
Although less common, brushing boots can also be made out of some type of plastic, most commonly PVC or PU plastic. These boots are super-easy to clean, but since they are molded to fit the anatomy of the horse, they often don’t fit every horse the same way. These “molded” boots are usually a little stiffer and harder than other types of brushing boots, but once you find the right size for your horse, they can be quite comfortable and fit just right. These, too, can come with an extra lining that makes them more comfortable for the horse.
The Main Reasons to Buy Brushing Boots for Your Horse
Okay, so we’ve determined that your horse will likely need brushing boots for one of two main reasons: for protection and for support. Now, let’s look at these things a little closer. Brushing boots offer many advantages for your horses, including:
- Extra warmth, which gives the leg tissues a little more pliability
- Protection from impacts while participating in cross-country
- Absorption and dissipation of shock
- Extra protection for the cannon bone, which can easily break or become damaged
Essentially, when your horse is involved in any type of activity – including competition, regular exercise, and cross-country – it may very well need a good set of brushing boots. He may also be better off with other types of horse boots, depending on the activity itself and its age or condition. These include cross-country boots, all-purpose boots, galloping boots, and polo wraps. Some offer basic support and others offer protection, while some provide both of these advantages.
In other words, before you run out and purchase a high-priced set of brushing or other types of boots for horses, ask yourself how often your horse is going to wear them, exactly what they’re needed for, and if this purchase justifies your decision. Taking all of these things into consideration can help you decide for sure if brushing boots are right for your horse.
Things to Look for in a Set of Brushing Boots
- The weight of the boots: keep in mind that even the most lightweight boots are going to add weight to the horse itself, which can directly affect how fast it runs and its overall gait. If they absorb water, they’ll add even more weight if it rains while the horse is outside, so finding a lightweight set of brushing boots is crucial.
- The materials the boots are made of: take a good look at the materials that make up the boots. If they are too inflexible, they can restrict the horse’s movement, which can also happen if you place the boots on the horse too tightly. You want the material to be tough, but somewhat flexible, so it is also comfortable.
- The lining – or lack of lining – in the boots: if it gets hot where you live, purchasing boots with a thick faux fur lining might not be the best idea. The horse’s tendons can become too hot and, therefore, the horse will be uncomfortable and won’t be able to perform properly.
- The amount of space between the horse’s skin and the boot: some boots are more prone to trapping dirt and debris in this sensitive area of a horse’s legs. Some boots are better than others at keeping out this dirt and debris.
- Sweating: with some boots, your horse may sweat profusely, which is uncomfortable to say the least. Try to choose boots that won’t keep in dampness or sweat, and boots that can still keep your horse comfortable even if it sweats a lot. If your horse continually perspires underneath its boots, it might be time to switch to another type of material.
Naturally, your choice of brushing boots is unlikely to match the person next to you, but once you know what you’re looking for in a good-quality set of brushing boots, it will be much easier to make the right decision in the end.
Top Brushing Boots for Horses
Fortunately, choosing brushing boots is much easier when you find honest reviews from real-life customers, and below are just a few of the top-rated brushing boots that you’d do well to check out:
- Woof Wear brushing boots: made out of durable neoprene, these boots come in five different sizes and nearly 20 different colors. They are ergonomically designed for better comfort, and they are made to protect the leg and fetlock joint, as well as for all disciplines.
- HKM fur-lined brushing boots: if you need brushing boots for your horse, you might as well go for the best ones. HKM makes brushing boots that both fit perfectly and look great, and their machine-washable boots also make them super-easy to take care of year after year.
- Kavallerie brushing boots: made out of faux leather and lined with soft fleece, these boots are perfect for training, jumping, riding, and much more. They absorb impact, are breathable, and provide the ultimate in both protection and comfort, making them the perfect set of boots for your horse.
- Professional’s Choice all-purpose boots: available in three different sizes and four colors, these boots come with three hook-and-loop closures for an excellent fit, and they have a strike patch made out of super-thick and durable PVC material, meaning you can put them through anything and they’ll last a very long time.