How to Fit a Horse for Support Boots

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Figure out what type of boots you want.,
Measure the front leg with a tape measure.,
Estimate from weight.,
Check for more specific sizes.,
Try before buying.,
Have a custom boot made if necessary.,
Clean the horse’s leg.,
Carefully put on the boot.,
Fasten the boots.,
Check the fit using your finger.,
Watch the horse walk.,
Get a second opinion.

There are boots made for cross country jumping, open front jumping, dressage/flat work, as well as support boots and all-purpose splint boots. Research each type of boot and decide which type suits your riding and horse’s needs.

Young horses should not be doing any work that needs support boots. Until its body is fully mature, between five and eight years old, the horse should stick with simple, straightforward exercises. Consult a veterinarian for more advice.;
, Measure the length from the horse’s knee, running the length of the cannon bone to the top of the ankle. The back boots are usually sized to match the front boots they come with. Choose from the three common sizes of support boots based on your results:

Small: 7-1/4” – 7-3/4” (18.4–19.7 cm)
Medium: 7-3/4” – 8-1/4” (19.7–21.0 cm)
Large: 8-1/4” – 8-3/4” (21.0–22.2 cm)

, This “cowboy sizing method” isn’t the most accurate, but it can work all right. Weight and bone structure does make a difference, so take it into account if this gives different results than the tape measure.

Small: Fine Boned / Under 900 lbs (under 400 kg)
Medium: Medium Boned / 900 – 1100 lbs (400–500 kg)
Large: Big Boned / Over 1100 lbs (over 500 kg)

, Typically, support boots come in small, medium, and large. Some manufacturers sell boots that are scaled to fit ponies, cobs, and horses exclusively, or provide more specific size charts. These charts may help you decide based on the breed and leg circumference as well as your measurements above.

, It is best to try on the boots before buying. Maybe someone at your stable owns a pair and will let you try them on your horse. If you can’t find someone who will let you use their boots, look for an online store or tack shop with a return policy. Every pair of boots fits a little differently, so you can never be sure just from the label.

Ask the owner of the boots whether he likes them, and how they’ve held up.

, This will be much more expensive, but all the fitting will be done for you. This may be necessary if you have a horse with an unusual shape or height/weight ratio.

, Make sure the horse’s leg is clean and free of any debris. If debris is trapped inside the boot, it can cause irritation from rubbing.

, This process varies based on boot design. For open front boots, open the boot, put it on near the horse’s knee, and slide it down until it falls into place on the cannon bone. For other types of boots, ask a trainer or look for videos online. It may take several tries to get the boot lined up properly when putting it on. Typically, the leather support pads go on the inside of the leg, and the straps are on the back of the leg.

You must be extremely careful when putting on the boots. Getting the boot too tight around the leg can cause serious problems.
Remember, always work from the side of the horse. You need to be able to get out of the way if the horse tries to kick.

, Most boots fasten using a buckle with loop and holes, keyhole snaps, or Velcro. Start with the upper strap, pulling it snug. Move down, fastening each strap with equal pressure.

Fasten until snug, but don’t overdo it. The top of the boot should fit snugly, but not press into the leg.
Some boots use a different design for the lowest strap (The sling strap). Bring this strap around the base of the horse’s fetlock and around at a 45º angle. Do the same for the strap on the other side, attaching it at a 45º angle as well.

, Slide your finger between the boot and horse’s leg. If you cannot easily fit your finger into the gap, the boots are too tight and could damage the horse’s tendons. If you can fit more than two fingers or can wiggle your fingers a great deal, the boots are too loose and could fail to provide support, or could let dirt inside and cause abrasions.

The front boot should cover most of the horse’s cannon bone and the inside of the fetlock. The back boot should cover the tendon fully, reaching about 1-3 inches (2.5–7.5 cm) below the hock.
Some less common types of boots may fit over different areas. Ask the manufacturer or an experienced horse owner for advice.

, The boots should not slide around on the horse’s legs, but they should not be so stiff that it is hard for your horse to move freely. If the boot is too big, it will rise to the back of the knee and cause the horse trouble while working.

, If the boots fit correctly to your opinion, get an experienced horse person to check them, or even a trusted vet. You can never be too careful when it comes to you and your horse’s safety. Remember, one misstep can cause an injury, even a fatal one. Be extra careful when it comes to properly putting on the boots, and ensuring they are high quality and will not come off.

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