What sort of basic leg and hoof protection does my horse need?
You know that old saying about no hoof, no horse? The same applies to his legs - no leg, no horse. There are many instances that you will need to protect his legs, so I have put together a handy guide so that you have the basics that can get you through most situations.
Options, options, options.
The situation: Basic leg protection for exercise.
Your horse can, and will, find a way to knock himself during a workout. Even the horse that doesn’t regularly interfere can benefit from protection just in case, during lateral work, when the terrain is bad, when he wants to dance, when he spooks. For more info on interference, read this article.
Options: Splint boots, sport boots, polo wraps.
The most versatile choice: I pick sport boots. They can be used for all disciplines, they are machine washable, they last, they are easy to put on and take off, they can also be used for turnout. (No polos in turn out please, they can more easily unravel.)
Multi purpose and easy to use.
The situation: Trailering.
Options: Standing wraps (quilts and wraps), shipping boots, sport boots and bell boots (not the best option, but better than naked legs).
The most versatile choice: I pick standing wraps. Good for trailering and medical needs. Shipping boots are great if your budget allows and your horse is fine with the knee and hock coverage.
Lucky for us, you have a rainbow of colors to choose from.
The situation: Post exercise leg care.
Options: Poultice, ice boots, cold water hosing, liniments.
The most versatile choice: I pick ice boots. Poultice is messy, you need to let it sit 12 hours, you can’t use it everywhere unless you want a sticky mess. Ice boots take 20 minutes, the packs can be used all over your horse (or you…)
I often use these on my own achy parts.
The situation: Hoof care.
You will need something for hoof icing, hoof poultice, hoof packing, hoof protection from a tossed shoe.
Options: One thousand types of hoof boot.
The most versatile choice: I pick a boot that you can soak, ice, and protect in. These catch all boots are not super for letting your horse walk around or be turned out in, but for a few hours until the farrier arrives they are good for protecting a hoof that’s missing a shoe.
These hoof wraps are super light and can stand up to wet and unforgiving ground.
The situation: Your horse has a medical reason to need leg protection.
This could be to combat proud flesh, to keep a wound or surgical site covered, to treat massive swelling, etc.
Options: Quilts or cotton batting or “no bow” wraps. Covered with flannel wraps, standing wraps, medical tape.
The most versatile choice: I pick quilts with standing wraps. Quilts are forgiving, and it’s really hard to get them too tight. “No bow” wraps and flannels are not so forgiving in their application, and in delicate medical situations perhaps some squish from a quilt is better. Cotton batting and medical tape gets expensive if you are doing multiple changes! If you have quilts and wraps for hauling, they can do double duty here.
Talk to your Vet about the need to wrap both legs if only one has the injury. Sometimes it's a good idea, other times it's not a good idea.
How much leg protection stuff do you have in your tack room?