Boots vs. Bandages
An ongoing debate in the equine community is whether it is better to use boots or bandages when working your horse. While both sides have a point, the right answer is not based on the products themselves, but the purpose for which you are using them.
Many people choose to use boots or bandages as protection. There are many things that can cause damage to a horse’s legs while working, from ramming into the rails of a fence, to twisting, to banging a tendon with an errant hind foot.
If you are looking for protection, boots are likely your best choice. There are several types of boots that are designed to protect the horse’s legs when working. Brushing boots, for example, are designed to protect the inside of the cannon and fetlock against interference from either a hind leg, or the other front leg. If you horse tends to wing or otherwise travel crookedly, brushing boots offer great protection. Tendon boots are designed to protect the tendons, while leaving the front of the leg open. This is so that a jumper can feel the rails he hits, while he is protected from accidentally hitting his tendons as he works.
On the other hand, many people wish to offer their horse support. Other than Sports Medicine Boots, most boots do not offer any support at all. If support is required, it is more sensible to consider bandages.
Polo wraps, probably the most common wraps used on working horses, offer a small amount of support. If wrapped properly, they gently support the fetlock, easing the strain on the suspensory ligaments. This support is minimal though, and many feel that it is better to do without. While there are elastic wraps available for performance support, it is far too easy to apply them incorrectly and cause more harm than good.
If you are seeking strong support, Sports Medicine Boots are probably your best option. Designed with support in mind, these boots offer an amazing amount of support for the suspensories and some even claim that that have helped to heal debilitating injuries.
Boots also have the advantage that it is difficult to put them on wrong. Wraps on the other hand can be misapplied and can cause serious damage. If you are not experienced with wrapping a horse, it is wise to have an experienced horse person show you how to apply a wrap before trying on your own.
There really isn’t a right or wrong answer as to which is better. Boots and bandages both have their uses, and always will. Choose the product that best suits your horse’s needs, and learn how to apply them properly. That way your horse will get the support and protection he needs, and you will be able to rest assured that you have done your best for him.