Boots and bandages can help protect a horse’s legs and provide some support, but they shouldn’t be relied on as a substitute for good conditioning.

No horse has perfect conformation, nor does every horse have the perfect job or the perfect footing in which to work. With this in mind, horse owners reach out to use every available technology to protect a horse’s limbs against injury. Manufacturers have risen to the challenge to produce a variety of protective wraps, support boots, and substitutes for horseshoes. Riders have high expectations for bandage protection and support: How much do these boots and bandages live up to their claims?

The Function of Protective Boots

Dane Frazier, DVM, has not only ridden and trained endurance horses, he has judged endurance horses at the highest FEI levels for more than three decades. His general equine practice in Lebanon, Mo., handles sport horses of varied disciplines.

"Depending on what a horse must do for a living, leg wraps, interference boots, skid boots, and splint boots may have practical application for horses with problems relating to interference and sport hazards," says Frazier.

He describes the merits of protective boots across equestrian disciplines by saying, "Protective leg gear is used for two purposes–protection from trauma and to support lower leg structures. Some horses tend to traumatize themselves by the interference of one limb hitting another, especially when fatigued, as, for example, a distance riding horse. Other horses are protected from an e