What Kinds of Leg Wear Are Equestrians Using?

By TPH Intern KAITLYN CRAWFORD

Are equestrians making conscious, intentional decisions when choosing their leg wear? The Plaid Horse anonymously surveyed equestrians on horse leg wear to discover the answers to these questions.

The survey was advertised through social media and yielded 105 participants. These are the results:


Figure 1: Responses to the question “What type of riding do you and your horse participate in?

Figure 2: Responses to the question “What kind of legwear do you most often use on your horse’s front legs?”

Participants were asked to explain their choice for front leg wear: “Why does your horse use this type of leg wear as opposed to other types?”

Here are some responses for each type of leg wear used:


Open front boots


“Good support/protection with some air flow, easy/quick to put on.”
“Less heat trapped in compared to some other options, and more tendon protection.”
“Protects leg and washes easy.”
“Tendon protection, speed of use, and easy care.”
“I’ve just always used these type of boots when jumping.”


50% of participants who use open front boots mentioned their protective exterior in
explanation.

26.7% of participants mentioned that open front boots are easy to use.

30% mentioned that open front boots provide airflow in their explanation.

16.6% of participants who use open front boots did not explain their reasoning for using this kind of leg wear.

10% of participants who use open front boots gave no particular reason, but mentioned that they’d always
used this type of boot or were told to use this type of boot.

80% of participants who use open front boots are involved in hunter, jumper, or equitation riding.


Polo wraps


“Tbh they are cheap and my horse does not have any major joint/ligament issues.”
“She has weak pasterns and they have the most fetlock support.”
“Protect the legs from every angle.”
“What I was taught to use.”


25% of participants who use polo wraps had no particular explanation for using them besides that they always used wraps or were told to use wraps.

25% of participants mentioned that polos support the legs and fetlocks. 25% of participants who use polo wraps did not explain their reasoning for using this kind of leg wear.


SMB/Medicine boots/Wrap boots


“She does speed so it protects her ligaments and protects when she hits barrels.”
“Navicular issues.”
“To lessen the vibration of the ground – he’s barefoot.”
“Support and protection.”
“He has a previous injury, these boots seem to provide the best support for that.”
“Front legs are smb type boots for support and to protect the legs from interference injuries. But
if it is hot or we are not working hard, no boots due to not wanting to overheat the legs.”


56.3% of participants mentioned the boot’s support of tendons in their explanation.


18.8% of participants mentioned that the boots protect from interference or knocking of the legs.


12.5% of participants who use SMBs did not explain their reasoning for using this kind of leg wear.

6.3% of participants had no particular reasoning for using SMBs besides that their trainer had told them to do so.


Fluffy boots/brush boots


“He interferes up front, so he wears lightweight/airy brushing boots.”
“I don’t use them with just flat work, only heavy jumping.”
“It is just what I have been told they need.”
“I like the support and protection from my horse hitting herself when doing movements.”
“Tendon protection from leg interference.”


35.7% of participants mentioned interference in their explanation.

28.6% mentioned lightness and increased airflow of the boots.

7.1% of participants mentioned no particular reasoning for using boots other than that’s what they have been told to do.

7.1% of participants who use brush boots did not explain their reasoning for using this kind of leg wear.

Participants were asked similar questions pertaining to hind leg wear: “What kind of leg wear do you most often use on your horse’s back legs?”

(Figure 3)

Participants were asked to explain their choice for hind leg wear: “Why does your horse use this type of hind leg wear as opposed to other types?”

Here are some responses to each type of leg wear:


Open Front boots/Ankle boots


“Safe and easily washed.”
“Sometimes it’s polos for the same reasons, but the back boots I try to use to stop him from hitting his ankles together.”
“Same as the front, only is protecting what absolutely needs to be protected.”
“Ankle knocking with lateral work.”


36% of participants mentioned that open front boots/ankle boots provide protection to the back legs. 16% mentioned their ease of use.

16% gave no explanation.


Polo Wraps


“Protect the legs from every angle.”
“Creates more support and another barrier from them knocking their legs. Polos are more flexible.”
“Occasionally will use polos on hind legs due to EPM and making her more conscious of her hind legs.”
“Convenient and easy application.”


25% of participants mentioned protection in their explanation.

25% gave no reasoning.


The remaining responses were variable in content.


SMB/Medicine boots/Wrap boots


“I found they give him the best support than any other boots.”
“He requires more fetlock support on the hind legs and the medicine boots are easier to put on than polo wraps.”
“To lessen the vibration of the ground – he’s barefoot.”


42.9% of participants mentioned that SMBs provide support in their explanations. 14.3% of participants gave no reasoning.

Remaining responses were variable in content.


Fluffy Boots/Brush boots


“It is just what I have been told they need.”
“He puts his hind feet down close enough to brush them against each other.”
“To give full coverage. He is always hitting his legs.”

40% of participants mentioned that brush boots protect from leg interference in their responses.

30% gave no explanation.


Some participants who answered “I don’t use leg wear on the hind legs” gave their reasoning as well:


“Generally they don’t wear anything behind unless they interfere or need tendon support.”
“They do not knock their hind end.”
“Will polo wrap but normally nothing on hind.”
“My horse is barefoot now, so I’m not as worried about injury from interference.”

Participants were asked: “Do you use legwear that is marketed as cooling or provides more airflow than other leg wear options?”

(Figure 4)

Participants were asked this question: “Select an answer below that you feel most applies to you.”


Here, moderate intensity work may include the following: flatting at the walk, trot, and canter, poles or small jumps, lower level dressage tests, drilling elements of a barrel or reining pattern, etc.


High intensity work may include the following: Jumping a course of jumps, running a barrel or reining pattern doing an upper level dressage test, galloping, etc.”

The responses were:


“I use different leg wear for high-intensity work compared to moderate-intensity work.”
“I use the same leg wear for all levels of work.”
“I don’t use leg wear for moderate-intensity work, but I do for high-intensity work.”
“I don’t use leg wear for all levels of work.”
“None of these apply to me.”


A majority of participants answered, “I use the same leg wear for all levels of work.” (38.8%)

The second most answered response was “I use different leg wear for high intensity work compared to moderate intensity work.” (28.2%)


Participants were asked to “List potential instances where you would not use leg wear when working your horse.”

Here are some of their responses:


“Very light walk/trot work.”
“Light hacks without jumping.”
“When going for a trail ride or similar leisure riding with low impact.”
“Sometimes it can cause more harm than good if not put on properly or the fit is improper. If someone doesn’t know, it’s better to leave it alone. However, high impact sports such as jumping or barrel racing that are hard on their legs/joints/ligaments I would recommend using a supportive boot/leg wear.”
“Just hacking a hunter horse that does not clip themself.”
“If it’s very wet.”
“I avoid boots in hot weather when flatting to keep my horse cooler.”
“Low jumps (below 2′), flatwork, hill work, long trails or walks, and conditioning work.”
“In heat or any of my horses that do not have injury.”
“Horse has feathers which provide ‘natural’ protection.”
“If they don’t interfere, none needed.”
“If it was too hot or we were not doing too much strenuous work (walking around the farm or just a walk ride in the arena) or to ride in a competition like scenario so he does not get used to wearing boots all the time.”


67.5% of participants mentioned that they would likely not use leg wear when doing low intensity work such as flat work, ground work, or going on trails.

18.8% of participants mentions that they may not use leg wear in high heat.