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Horse owners generally seem to think that turning horses out in boots is either a fantastic idea, or a terrible one. I have never been a huge fan of turning out in boots and have only really done it when Scottie is going out with a new horse. But after having cellulitis for the first time this winter and with him continuing to give his cannon bones go faster stripes, I am seriously starting to consider always turning out in boots!
Pros of Turning Out in Boots
The most obvious reason why you would choose to turn your horse out in boots is that they offer a level of protection. They should stop the majority of self inflicted wounds and any other knocks they get playing with their field buddies.
Keep legs clean
Unless it is really wet mud, most boots will keep the area they are covering clean and dry. This can not only reduce the amount of grooming and washing you have to do, but it can also reduce the chances of your horse developing mud fever.
Offer Extra Support
Especially when you look at some of the turnout boots on the market, these can help support the structures in your horse’s leg while they are playing silly buggers, reducing the likelihood of an injury.
Piece of Mind
If your horse has a tendency to be silly in the field, you are probably less likely to worry about them if you turn them out in boots. Which, since our horses already worry us far too much, is a perfectly acceptable reason to turn out in boots!
Cons of Turning Out in Boots
Boots Get Muddy, Trashed and Lost
If you decide to turn out in boots all year round, you can expect at least one of these things to happen. Muddy boots can become heavy and may need regular cleaning to keep the fastenings working well. This regular wear in the field will als likely lead to them becoming trashed and you may well spend hours looking for a lost boot in the field before giving up and buying a new pair!
Especially in the warmer months, many of these boots can cause the legs to overheat. Not only could your horse start sweating potentially causing the boots to rub. But if the tendons and ligaments get too warm they are more likely to be injured if your horse decides to run around.
Wet Boots can Damage the Skin
If your horse is going out in the horrible weather, the chances are these boots will get soaked through. This can lead to the skin becoming damaged and can increase the risk of conditions such as mud fever.
Some Horses are Sensitive
Some horses will be rubbed by boots if they wear them for any longer period of time. This means that the benefits of wearing the boots may not outweigh the damage and discomfort caused by them.
Horses Can Remove Boots
Some horses love to play with their clothes and can remove their boots. Best case scenario, you just spend a lot of time searching for their lost boots in the field. But when horses start playing with their boots, they put themselves at risk of doing themselves some damage.
So I am still fairly undecided about whether I want to turn out in boots or not. I think I might use them more on days where I think Scottie is more likely to be silly in the field, such as when he has been in for a few days. But I am not convinced about using them daily.
Do you turn out in boots? What type of boot do you turn out in?