Whether your horse is used for heading or heeling, team roping requires a lot of him every time he enters the arena.
It goes without saying that repetitive stop and go wears on your horse’s tendons, ligaments and joints. How can you help safeguard your horse’s legs? When you’re working with a high-performance animal, good nutrition and careful management are just the beginning. If you want to keep those legs going, protection and support are key.
That’s where equine boots really hit their stride.
Protective boots help minimize the chance of injury to your horse’s splint bones, as well as the soft tissues on the backs of his legs. If you ride on rugged terrain, boots fashioned from a tough, non-stretch material that can’t be pierced by sharp objects such as thorns and sticks are best. But for arena use, you should be OK to use protective boots with a bit of stretch.
Beyond that, look for different levels of protection to suit your specific activities. Maybe your rope horse runs a barrel pattern with your daughter in the saddle or you start your own colts. There’s a protective boot out there for nearly every purpose. One of the key features to look for is breathability, because the same fabric that protects a leg can trap heat and moisture, which can lead to skin irritation. Another must-have feature is durability, since things can get rough out there!
Once the speed picks up, so does the stress on your horse’s legs. Especially for activities that require repetitive maneuvers, stretchy, wrap-around boots will give those ligaments the support they need to help prevent strains, sprains and tears. Make sure that the supportive style you choose has just enough “give” to allow for a good, firm wrap—with enough durability to hold up without sagging.
As top-notch equine athletes, it’s no surprise that rope horses require boots that both protect and support. Their legs engage at extreme angles and pump like pistons, so the support part is a no-brainer. But don’t forget that they also dig hard and heavy into the ground, which impacts their legs and fetlocks (think burns and abrasions). When decking-out your rope horses, choose boots that feature both shock-absorbing splint pads and tough, four-way stretch to support the fetlock.
A word about sizing: Regardless of the type of boot you purchase, start with the manufacturer’s size recommendations. Make sure you can fit one finger snugly between your horse’s leg and the boot. Too big, and the boots can cause your horse to trip, won’t do much to support the legs and can trap debris inside the boot. Too small, and the boots will not only limit movement, but can bind, cause irritation and even damage tendons.
Last but not least, add a set of bell boots if you value your horse’s heels! Bell boots are the best way to ensure extra protection for those sensitive areas, which are prone to overreach injuries. Bell boots are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of colors and styles, with different types of closures.
This article is sponsored by: Classic Equine