Why Do Horses Wear Boots

Humans take off their shoes when they come home for the night, but did you know horses often wear them to bed? From comfortable protection to increased performance, there are a few important reasons why horses wear boots. Keep reading to learn more about why these stylish equine accessories are so important.
why do horses wear boots

1. The Benefits of Wearing Booted Horse Hooves


Hoof boots offer protection to the sensitive coronet band and hoof wall, which can take a beating in extreme terrain. They help absorb shock from rough terrain and increase grip, allowing for more secure footing. This reduces the risk of slip-and-fall injuries, concussion, and hoof bruising.

Convenience and Comfort

Hoof boots offer an easier alternative than shoeing and offer greater flexibility. As opposed to traditional horseshoes, hoof boots can be taken off and put back on with ease, allowing for quick changes when necessary. Its cushioned base also adds comfort, as the horse does not need to adjust to a different and often uncomfortable object.

Prevent Injury

Hoof boots reduce the risk of cuts and abscesses that can occur as a result of repetitive use or long-distance rides. The protection it offers also prevents overstretching of the frog muscles and damage to the soles of the hooves.

Lower Stress and Increase Performance

Wearing hoof boots helps keep the horse’s legs cool and free from strain or fatigue. This reduces lactic acid buildup which improves performance and overall energy levels. Hoof boots also create less stress on the horse’s tendons and ligaments during exercise, providing better overall comfort.

  • Protection against rough terrain
  • Ease of use and added comfort
  • Prevention of hoof injuries
  • Reduced stress and improved performance

2. Understanding the Natural Shape of Horse Hooves

Before you can address any hoof care concerns, you need to take some time to understand the natural shape of horse hooves. It is important to take the time to become intimately familiar with how your horse’s hooves should look with regular hoof care.

Hooves are made up of three distinct parts: the sole, the frog, and the walls. It is important to understand how these components fit together and how they should appear to be healthy.

  • Sole: The sole of a hoof should be relatively flat, with no real dips or hollows. This will minimize the risk of bruising, which can lead to gaping or lameness.
  • Frog: The frog should be large, yet it should still be able to make contact with the ground when the hoof is bearing weight. This will help support the structure of the hoof.
  • Walls: The walls, which are the hard components that protect the hoof from daily wear and tear, should be even and nicely rounded.

These key components of the hoof should be regularly checked to ensure your horse is comfortable and healthy. Knowing what to look for when evaluating the hoof structure of your horse is an important part of general hoof care.

3. Types of Horse Boots and Pharmaceuticals for Horses

Horse boots and pharmaceuticals should be used with the utmost care, as any carelessness can harm the horse’s health. To ensure safety and comfort, there are different kinds available for different purposes.

Trail Ride Boots:

When hitting the trails or working in the paddocks, it is important to ensure the horse’s feet and legs are well protected. Trail ride boots provide the necessary protection and come in various types such as:

  • Bell boots: These offer extra protection and cushioning to the hooves against abrasions, as well as provide padding and support during the ride.
  • Hoof Boots: Made of a breathable material such as leather or neoprene, hoof boots protect horses’ delicate hooves from dirt, stones, and sharp objects.
  • Support boots: The adjustable straps and cushioning material make these boots perfect for heavy labor or fast-paced activities

Jumping Boots:

These boots offer protection to the horse’s legs and feet during cross-country jumping events. The level of protection depends on the material used. Common materials include neoprene, canvas, and leather. Examples of jumping boot types include:

  • Neoprene jumping boots: These provide shock absorption and are lightweight for the horse’s convenience.
  • Leather jumping boots: Durable and thick, these boots offer excellent shock absorption and slip prevention.
  • Canvas jumping boots: Lightweight and breathable, canvas boots are perfect for lower-intensity jumping.


Various pharmaceuticals are available to ease the pain and discomfort in horses, such as anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics. The most common pharmaceuticals include:

  • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are known for their pain-relieving and fever-reducing properties.
  • Antimicrobial medications: These medications are used to treat fungal, viral, and bacterial infections.
  • Antiparasitic drugs: Used to treat and prevent the spread of parasites in horses, such as lice, ticks, and worms.

4. Correctly Fitting Horse Boots

Horse boots are ideal for protecting the legs of your horse, but only if they fit the horse correctly. If they are too tight, they will cause discomfort and movement restriction. If they are too loose, they can’t provide enough protection.

Best Practices for Fitting Horse Boots:

  • Carefully measure your horse’s hoof length and circumference, then compare to boot size.
  • Verify your selection by trying on the boot on your horse.
  • Use a brush to clean the hooves before putting on the boots.
  • Provide some margin of length and circumference while selecting the size of the boots.
  • Secure the boot firmly, but not too tightly with the Velcro straps.
  • Keep the rider leg off the horse during the fitting, so as not to create excessive pressure.
  • If necessary, add specially designed pads inside the boot, to tighten the fit.

Your goal when fitting your horse with boots is to make sure that the boot fits the hoof as closely as possible, without any inches that the hoof doesn’t make use of. Boots should be streamlined with the hoof, although in some cases a light overhang from the toe area of the boot is acceptable.

In the long run, it’s best to leave the boot fitting to the professionals, such as a qualified farrier or a vet. They will ensure that the boot is fitted correctly and can help you troubleshoot any issues that arise due to the fit.

5. How to Care for Your Horse’s Booted Hooves

Clean Regularly

Booted hooves need just as much attention as unshod hooves. You’ll want to make sure to thoroughly clean them at least twice a week. In order to do this, use a hoof pick and brush to get rid of any mud, dirt and debris. Additionally, wipe down the boots with a rag to ensure they are clean from top to bottom.

Check the Fit

It’s important to check the fit of the boots from time to time. The boots shouldn’t be so loose that they’re slipping off, nor should they be too tight. The right fit will keep them in place securely while also allowing enough space for the hoof. If you find the boots are either slipping off or too tight, contact your farrier and ask for an adjustment.

Allow for Breaks

Your horse should get regular breaks from their boots in order to give their hooves a chance to breathe and dry off. This might look like allowing them to go without them for a couple days a week or removing them after long rides. Either way, the break will help to keep the hooves healthy and strong.

Replace the Boots When Necessary

No matter how well you take care of them, your horse’s boots won’t last forever. If you find the boots are worn out or becoming less secure, it’s time to replace them. The good news is, there are lots of options to choose from depending on the needs of your horse.

6. The Risks of Horse Boot Use

Despite the many benefits of using horse boots, if they are not used correctly, they can present potential dangers. Below are six risks that you should be aware of if you use horse boots.

  • Too Tight – If the boots are too tight, it can cause restriction of blood flow, discomfort, and even injury.
  • Damage to Hoof Wall – The wrong type of boot or one that does not fit properly can cause damage to the hoof wall.
  • Accumulation of Dirt and Moisture – Boots are designed to keep dirt and moisture out, but if not properly maintained they can cause accumulation of dirt and moisture.
  • Inappropriately Sized or Used Boots – Improperly sized boots can cause rubbing and chafing, as well as interference with the hoof’s natural movement.

Treatments such as hoof taping may be needed for minor injuries caused by wearing ill fitting boots, however, severe injuries can require more service. Additionally, an improperly sized boot or one that has not been properly secured can slip off during exercise and potentially injure the horse, you, or an onlooker.

Finally, over time boots can wear out which can affect their performance. To ensure that your boots are providing the best protection and comfort, it is important to check them often for any signs of wear or damage and replace them as needed. While there are risks associated with the use of horse boots, with the right knowledge and use they can be very beneficial.

7. The Bottom Line: Pros and Cons of Horse Boots

Horse owners need to carefully consider the pros and cons of horse boots before they choose an option for their animal. The following is a breakdown of some of the advantages and disadvantages of using horse boots:


  • Provides protection for horses’ delicate lower limbs from wear and injury
  • Boots can improve leverage and traction while riding
  • Can help improve a horse’s gaits
  • Can offer abrasion and impact protection

The primary advantage of horse boots is that they offer protection. Horse hooves are delicate and prone to damage, and boots can help to protect the lower limbs from wear and injury. They can also be used to improve the horse’s leverage and traction while riding, making it easier to control the animal. In some cases, boots can even help to improve a horse’s gaits, giving them easier movement and extended reach. Finally, boots offer a degree of abrasion and impact protection to help the horse during more strenuous activities.


  • Horses can become uncomfortable or stressed wearing them
  • Correct fit and placement are of paramount importance
  • Incorrect fit can cause damage, soreness or disrepair
  • Boots can be expensive and require regular replacement

Although horse boots have some advantages, there are also some drawbacks that must be taken into consideration. One of the key aspects is ensuring that the horse is comfortable wearing the boots. Horses may become stressed or uncomfortable wearing boots, and this can have an impact on their performance during activities. The correct fit and placement of the boots is also of paramount importance. If the boots do not fit correctly, they can cause damage, soreness or disrepair in the hoof or lower limb. Additionally, boots can be expensive and require regular replacement. This is especially true if the horse is engaging in strenuous activities which can wear down the boots quickly.

If you have ever thought about why horses wear boots, now you know the answer. Thanks to this valuable information, you now understand why horses need boots to keep them healthy, comfortable, and safe every day. Keep these reasons in mind next time you watch a horse and wonder what it’s boots are all about.

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