The Best Tendon Boots and Wraps for Hot Weather
Protection during physical exercise is common and most of the time highly recommended for any equine athlete, no matter if they are vying for the gold medal at the Olympic games or simply clearing small obstacles at the local show, the risk of injury is always present. The tendon is particularly susceptible to injury, which is why boots and wraps/bandages are commonly used in nearly every discipline of the equine world. Choosing your protection seems obvious enough: pick the right size and make sure the material is suitable for the job. However, in hotter and more humid climates found in places such as South East Asia, protection without the cooling effect does more harm than good.
Although you are protecting your horse from leg injuries, there is also a chance that your leg protection is overheating your horse’s tendons. The fore and hind limbs (without protection) have little muscle below the knees and hocks, so they cool themselves by removing warmth from the surface of the skin (Beckstett). When a traditional form of leg protection is placed on the limbs, a microenvironment is formed, creating a form of insulation which can actually cause more harm than good to the superficial digital flexor. These findings were confirmed by Brock et al. who conducted an experiment with horses doing a certain amount of physical activity and then resting. The horses were wearing standard neoprene boots, perforated neoprene boots, plant-based neoprene boots made of Stomatex, cross-country boots, fleece polo wraps, and elastic bandages. The study concluded that the fleece polo wrap gave the limb the highest temperature and humidity and that all of the leg protections had a detrimental impact on the cells of the tendon.
Although leg protection may seem like an obvious must, it is best to look at all of the possible factors before jumping into buying all of the tendon boots and polo wraps in the world (having a matching polo wrap and saddle pad collection is tempting, I know). When choosing what to use on your horse’s legs, consider the following factors: intensity of the physical exercise you will be doing, your horse’s movement patterns, the material/design of the protection, and the condition/temperature you will be working in (Beckstett). Also note the type of protection your horse needs based on the factors mentioned previously. Horses who are coming back from an injury to the tendon and horses who need more protection under the fetlock will likely be better suited with a polo wrap (Pro Equine Grooms). Some days, it may be best to opt for less protection but keep the session shorter, especially if your horse doesn’t have any inherent tendencies such as one leg interfering with the other. Sure, it may seem risky, but sometimes it is best to allow your horse’s limbs a breath of fresh air during work.
Once you have decided what type of leg protection you are looking for, it’s time to pick the boot or wrap which may help prevent your horse’s limbs from weakening in the heat, but where do you start? Besides taking the horse’s leg protection off immediately after exercise and hosing the legs, the easiest solution is to look into a different boot or wrap choice. There are many options on the market, but below is a list of alternative tendon boot and polo wrap options (with pros and cons) which may save your horse's legs during extreme heat. It’s important to note that none of these options are perfect and damage may still occur.
Veredus Carbon Gel Boots
Heat escapes more easily in these types of boots as vents have been carefully placed in the design. Additionally, the boots are made from EVA foam which is better at releasing heat (Siun). They are also waterproof and have strong shock absorption. This is a good boot option with only two main cons: they are pricey and some sizes are difficult to get your hands on. Veredus also has another good option with fake sheep skin. These are stylish and in trend, but not a great option for rainy and muddy days.
Kavallerie Classic Tendon Boots
These boots have the air vents, flexibility, and good shock absorption found in the more expensive competitors (Siun). Therefore, these are good alternatives, but the sizing chart is not quite right, so choose carefully.
Kavallerie Horse Tendon Boots Pro-K 3D Air-Mesh
These boots also have air vents, making them much more breathable. They also have excellent shock absorption, the liners being designed to absorb heat created on the leg (Siun). Another advantage of these boots is that they have stronger strike plates. However, they are still quite pricey. Furthemore, you may want to consider that boots with three straps could be restrictive on the fetlock joint, depending upon the shape and size of your horse’s legs.
LeMieux Impact Responsive Gel Tendon Boots
These boots are designed with rear and side vents, releasing heat which accumulates during work. Air comes inside the lower vent and goes out of the upper vent (Guerin). This boot comes with a shock absorbing gel. They are not the cheapest option but are fairly affordable compared to some of the other boots.
Kavallerie Elastic Fleece Polo Wraps
These bandages are made of breathable material which is designed with micro-vents. Another advantage of this bandage is that the elasticity is made in such a way that pressure is distributed evenly across the horse’s leg. Although the bandage is made of fleece, and they are on the slightly more expensive side.
Eskadron Climatex Training Polo Bandages
These wraps have battled the heat issue by including bandage liners in their design in order to cool the horse’s legs (The Cheshire Horse). The material that this polo is made out of is acryl-polyamide and lycra, the latter supposedly making the wrap more breathable. Do keep in mind that the innovation does come at a high price.
Although air vents and certain materials do help in lessening heat build up, take off your boots and polo wraps as soon as you can, as heat will still build up after a certain period of time. Also, always prioritize your horse’s leg shape and size because no matter how good the heat absorption, improperly fit boots and wraps can end up doing more harm than good. With all factors taken into consideration, your beloved partner is much more likely to be safe while working with you.
Beckstett, Alexandra. “Do Boots and Wraps Overheat Horses' Legs?” The Horse, The Horse Media Group LLC, 23 June 2021, https://thehorse.com/1101094/do-boots-and-wraps-overheat-horses-legs/.
The Cheshire Horse. “Polo & Exercise Bandages.” The Cheshire Horse, The Cheshire Horse, 14 Aug. 2020, https://www.cheshirehorse.com/c/horse-health/bandages-wraps/polo-exercise-bandages.
Guerin, Georgia. “Best Tendon Boots on the Market Right Now.” Horse & Hound, Future Publishing Limited Quay House , 10 May 2021, https://secure.horseandhound.co.uk/buyers-guides/best-tendon-and-fetlock-boots-506130.
Siun, L. “Top 10 Tendon Support Boots for Horses in 2021.” HorseVills, HorseVills, 28 Sep. 2021, https://horsevills.com/best-tendon-boots-horses/.
Pro Equine Grooms. “When to Use Polo Wraps Instead of Sport Boots.” Pro Equine Grooms, Professional Equine Grooms, 10 June 2019, https://www.proequinegrooms.com/tips/equipment-and-tack/the-case-for-polo-wraps-over-sport-boots.