Let’s face it – everyone enjoys the look of a nicely turned out pair, with perfectly wrapped legs.
However, polos vs. boots are not a choice of fashion, but rather a practical choice to protect your horse’s legs.
Polos (Wraps) vs. Boots
Let’s talk about the difference between polos and boots first.
They have different jobs and can be very helpful when used properly.
However, it’s important to know that they’re not going keep your horse from pulling a tendon! No strip of cotton/lycra blend can support a 1200lbs horse enough to do this.
Using polos on your horse every day takes away the natural ability of the lower limbs to adjust to new or uneven footings, while also taking away the horse’s natural ability to strengthen the soft and connective tissues in its body, which the polos were there to protect in the first place.
We can not bubble wrap our horses. It makes them weaker.
Should you be cautious and careful in what kind of situations you put your horse’s delicate legs in? Yes of course. But understand, that you are providing him with a disadvantage by never working him in uneven or inconsistent footing, or by not hacking him out on grass, gravel, roads and dirt.
When to Use a Polo
The only times that polos are valuable to use are when in the arena, flat work or hacking out in dry footing.
If you choose to wrap your horse, two important things to remember:
1. Do not go below the fetlock
2. Do not make it too tight!!
The wrap should feel like a stuffed animal when squeezed gently on the leg. If it has no “return”, it is way too tight.
When to Use Boots
If you plan on going through water, being out for more than an hour or doing some jumping or technical work, put your horse’s boots on instead of using a wrap.
Boots can include anything with straps and a hard or thick outside wall, an open front, brushing, flat work boots like DSB’s, or the like. All of these are designed to simply protect the leg from bumps, bangs, brushing and scraping from the other legs, or something the horse is jumping or going through.
If you choose boots, be sure to wash and clean them often. They can get a build up of sweat and dirt which will cause a rub.
Also, be sure to fit them properly. They should cover the area to be protected and not hang over or get in the way of the back of the knee bending.
Whatever you decide is right for your needs. Please keep in mind they will not prevent soft tissue injuries. The best way to do that is lots of turn out, hacking and riding on uneven terrain and proper conditioning.
Written by: Emily Abbate