Galloping boots are used to protect a horse's legs during strenuous workouts. They may be made of leather, neoprene or another material, and typically attach to the horse's front legs using straps with Velcro or buckled closures. The padded portion faces the inside of the opposite leg and the buckles or straps face outward. Galloping boots are useful for horses that strike or tap their front legs together either due to faulty conformation or through a simple misstep. They also can protect the leg from rocks that are kicked up during schooling, jumping, or cross country riding.
Schooling or Training Uses
You may find that after vigorous schooling or training sessions you notice rubs, scrapes or abrasions on or near the fetlock area on your horse's front legs. This is a sign that he may need to use galloping boots. Galloping boots protect the bones that stick out on the fetlock area. If you are schooling your horse over cross rails, ground poles or cavaletti and you find that he routinely has such rubs after schooling sessions, he may need to use galloping boots. Some horses also may accidently rub or strike during training sessions on the flat, especially during the canter, practicing flying changes, or engaging in any training activity requiring sharp turns or extended gallops.
Cross Country Riding or Eventing
Anytime you ride out over rough terrain or jump large fences, your horse is at risk for hitting his leg bones on brush, rails or fences. Galloping boots protect the fetlock from injuries caused by hitting branches, rocks or other natural obstacles while evening or riding across country. Anytime you ride through rough terrain at a gallop or jump fences, consider using some sort of leg protection on your horse that covers the cannon, pastern and fetlock bones. Be sure that the galloping boots you choose are made from materials that breathe and that the straps are not too tight that they constrict the circulation in the leg.
Trail riding offers you the fun of riding your horse through the countryside, but it also increases the likelihood that your horse will stumble or cross through rocky terrain, which can result in hitting a leg against something sharp. Galloping boots pad the inside areas of a horse's leg, such as the fetlock bones, and protect the tender spots from injuries. Using galloping or splint boots on long trail rides may give your horse some added protection as you navigate fields, brush and streams.
Some horses actually need to wear galloping boots or another type of leg protection when turned out in their pastures. These horses typically exhibit a conformation flaw that makes them more prone to striking the front fetlock or pastern bone. To prevent rubs, scrapes or more serious injuries, turn your horse out with galloping or splint boots. Because they'll get muddy in the paddock, it's important to choose boots that are easy to clean. It's also important to make sure they fit well, as too-tight boots can cut off circulation to the leg or damage the tendons. If you're not sure how to fit galloping boots, ask an employee at your local tack store, your trainer or riding instructor for help.
Jeanne Grunert has been a writer since 1990. Covering business, marketing, gardening and health topics, her work has appeared in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books, "Horse Illustrated" and many national publications. Grunert earned her Master of Arts in writing from Queens College and a Master of Science in direct and interactive marketing from New York University.