Horse Boots for Barrel Racing
Are you worried about your horse’s health?
Barrel racing is a fun and exciting activity that takes a lot of practice and skill to perfect. The intense nature of barrel racing and the tight turns mean that horse boots for barrel racing are a must to keep your horse’s legs protected and supported. To help ensure you and your horse have a great time when barrel racing, we cannot stress the importance of investing in proper equipment enough. Horse boots are a relatively inexpensive piece of kit that can help protect your horse from injury.
Types of Boots
There are several types of boots available, each designed to protect or support in a slightly different way. Below we have listed the most popular type of boot and the key characteristics of each to help you decide which is best suited to your horse and their needs. We live in Calgary and there are a number of tack stores in Calgary you can get boots from. You can also order from Amazon, which is my favourite past time.
If you are a beginner and just starting out riding we also have an article that outlines the best boots for beginners.
Protective/ Splint Boots
Splint boots are a very popular option. They act as a barrier to help protect your horse’s leg from any external impact. They shield the legs from any potential impact and damage that can occur from being hit by the horse’s other legs/ hooves and anything else that may come into contact with your horse’s legs. The boots are designed to wrap around the leg from under the hock to the fetlock in order to act as protection, they mostly protect the splint bone but also provide some level of support to the cannon bone, tendons and ligaments. You can also get boots with linings made from fleece which increase comfort and provide additional support.
These boots are also known as sports medicine boots. Support boots are designed to be shock-absorbing and support the fetlock joint. The boots cover the canon bone and the fetlock joint and are designed to provide additional support and prevent joint hyperextension. Support boots tend to have sling straps that support the fetlock and are a popular choice for high-intensity activities such as barrel racing. The way that support boots are designed often reduces the likelihood of over tightening and the placement of these boots tends to be more particular than other options so it is important you know where to correctly position them.
Bell boots are called this because they simply look like a bell. These are worn on the front legs around the horse’s pasterns. Bell boots are designed to protect the pastern, coronary band and top of the hoof from impact. There are more and more ‘no turn’ bell boots available now which sit in place and reduce the risk of friction. Take care when choosing a size for bell boots because if they are too big your horse could step on them and if they are too small they won’t provide adequate protection to the heel.
What about polo wraps?
You may have seen riders at competitions using polo wraps but we wouldn’t recommend this for barrel racing protection. Simply because when they are used incorrectly they can cause far more harm than good. Although they are inexpensive, easy to wash and when wrapped properly provide a custom fit, there is a high risk of polo wraps being wrapped too tightly and causing soft tissue damage or too loosely and slipping. There is also a risk of a polo wrap becoming undone during riding which can be extremely dangerous for the horse and the rider. Due to this, we’d recommend the types of boots above as they are easy to fasten, sturdy and safe.
Materials Used for Boots
The majority of horse boots used to be made of leather but the leather options are now quite expensive and require a lot of care to keep them in good condition. For example, leather tends to become very stiff and dry after it’s been exposed to water. Nowadays many boots are made from neoprene, it’s lightweight, easy to care for and inexpensive. The neoprene boots don’t soak up water or mud and can easily be rinsed clean which makes them a better option. However, neoprene boots shouldn’t be left on for extended periods due to the material not being very breathable which will likely result in your horse’s legs sweating underneath the boots.
Many boots also have strike pads which are added protection in the areas where the impact is most likely to occur. These strike pads will often be made with a tough material such as leather or rubber rather than of neoprene which would be far more likely to tear.
It is important that your horse’s boots fit properly as if the boots are not a good fit they can cause sores and irritation. Take measurements to ensure the boots will be a perfect fit and guarantee your horse’s comfort and leg support. It is worse if the boots are too big because it will cause the material to bunch up, move out of place and rub against your horse’s legs. The boots should be snug on the leg, unable to move around the horse’s leg but loose enough to put a finger beneath the material.
Why do I need to use boots?
As barrel racing requires tight turns and quick movements it is important to protect your horse’s legs from any impact. This can often occur if your horse strikes its own legs with its hooves when running. Boots also provide support for the bones, joints and muscles in the legs which are put under pressure during high-intensity activities.
What type of boot is best for barrel racing?
Due to the demanding nature of barrel racing, we would suggest using your preference of protective or support boots and using bell boots alongside in order to offer your horse ultimate leg protection. You can also get combo boots which offer full protection as they include the bell boots too, however many riders find that the bells wear out more quickly or get pulled off when using combo boots so keep this in mind when deciding what boots to invest in.
Ensure the boots fit properly and if your horse has not worn boots before you may want to either turn them out wearing boots so they can get used to them or walk them around the yard a little before mounting to give them a chance to get used to the feeling of wearing boots before you try to ride them. Now you’re kitted out and ready to go, have fun!