How do I know what type of bell boot to use on my horse?
I have a love/hate relationship with bell boots - I love the idea of them, it drives me bonkers to put them on and off. It seems like it adds a ton of time to the grooming process! Yes, I'm being a sissy, and in the long run, they serve a purpose and can really help your horse out if needed. The main purpose of using bell boots it to protect the heel and help to prevent the front shoes from accidental removal by the hind feet. Some horse are ridden with bell boots, and some horses are turned out with them. (Just in case for those accidental shenanigans!)
Horses will all sorts of jobs benefit from bell boots.
Once again, you have about a million choices out there...so here are some thoughts on how to pick the pair that’s best for your horse.
- How long will he be wearing them? The coronary band is a sensitive area, and prolonged rubbing by bell boots can cause sores. How about a fur lined pair? (Not kidding here!) The choices of material also range from stiff fabrics to rubbery types of materials. Be diligent in noticing any potential rub marks if your horse is to wear them for prolonged periods of time. Also know that fuzzy linings around the coronary band may prevent sores, but you will be picking out a lot of shavings, burrs, and stickers.
- How easy do you want them to be to use? Velcro closure or pull on/off? I find the velcro closures easy to use, and I’ve also seen horses undo them lickety split! The pull on/off types are trickier to apply, but they seen to stay on better than any other type of bell boot.
Soak these bad boys in hot water before you put them on for a perfect fit.
- How about cleaning? Rubber is super easy - rinse and go! Some of the fabric ones can also be tossed in the washer. There are also a few styles out there where the fabric is essentially the loop part of velcro, which is great for fitting but awful for stickers and burrs. These can also be tossed in the washer.
- How do you need them to fit? Most of the rubber type bell boots are uniform the whole way around, so they can twirl about your horse’s pastern. These also usually come in a few sizes, so you can grab a pair that covers to the ground to protect those shoes. There are also some great bell boots that have a little rounded nubby thing that fits snugly into the back of the pastern to prevent spinning (like the bell boot above). I have found that these bell boots are great for the heels, but not so great to cover the backs of the shoes. If you buy them to cover the shoe, you usually end up with a pair that’s too big and will spin, even with that little rounded thingy.
These are easy, simply, and don't twist around.
These bell boots are high tech and designed for maximum heel protection.
There are also some styles of bell boot that are really more like a rubber ring, that just covers the heels and are stretched over the hoof. Great for the jumper ring, and a bit easier to put on than the traditional pull on model.
And last, but not least, what’s your color of choice?