Using boots on your horse
Boots are often made of rubber, but can also be made from neoprene or leather.
They come in various forms and weight that can be used for many different purposes.
Usually, they are only used on the front hooves of the horse.
There are two kinds of boots. Protective boots and what one could call “gait boots”.
Protective boots are what every equestrian has seen. They are light weight (most of the time), can be of any color and their purpose is to protect the pastern and coronet so the horse doesn’t step on itself with its hind legs. In the Icelandic Horse case, this can happen if a horse lacks balance in a gait or goes faster than it can really handle.
“Gait boots” are often tightened just around the hoof from the backside (where the heel bulbs are) to the front. They usually weigh from 120 grams up to 300 grams although the maximum weight per leg for competition is 250grams and 120grams for breeding shows (including all other protective material).
“Gait boots” are used to help the horse find its balance in the gait, lift its front legs higher and/or to help with gait problems such as pacey tölt, difficult trot etc.
In general a horse that has a trotty tölt will not tölt better with weight on the front legs; this will only make it more trotty. However, a pacey horse’s tölt can benefit a lot from extra weight on the front hooves.
For training there are no rules on how heavy your boots should be but a good guideline is that if you put 300 grams boots on, your horse should not get 300 grams heavier in the hand. In that case, the problem you are encountering is not one that will be fixed with boots but one that comes from lack of lightness, carriage and suppleness in the horse.
Here are a few photos explaining how to place three different kinds of boots on your horse.
In another article we will raise the topic on why boots help a pacey horse tölt but not a trotty one.