If you’re a hunter jumper, dressage rider or even just a weekend trail rider, you want to ensure your horse’s safety with every ride. There are a few things to take into consideration when talking about the safety of a horse while riding, and in todays blog post we’re going to talk about leg safety and how we can prevent injury to these vital extremities. When going to ride, it’s important to know what we’re protecting and what are options are to protect it. When we’re talking about the horse’s legs, we’re referencing their fetlock joints and tendons in the lower region of their leg. These suspensory ligaments are crucial to a horse’s movements and can be monumentally disastrous if anything were to happen to them while riding, and even not riding, as accidents do happen.

Let’s talk polo wraps (aka polos) and their pros and cons.

PROS

  • Usually made of fleece
  • Made to be wrapped around the horse’s legs
  • Stretchy, and mainly used during groundwork exercise, longeing and turnout (although that’d be a stretch).
  • Fairly easy to wash

CONS

  • Requires practice to put on, no one is perfect doing it the first time
  • Do them too tight, you risk cutting off circulation, too loose and you lose the effect
  • Get dirty easily, and should not be worn when hacking out as they can get caught on things

Let’s talk tendon boots and their pros and cons.

PROS

  • Durable
  • Easily accessible
  • Easy to clean

CONS

  • Can be fitted incorrectly
  • Easy to get items like rocks, sand, dirt, etc. in between the boot and skin which can cause chafing and rubs on cannon bone
  • Does not offer much protection

Here’s the dealio: polos and tendon boots are basically just glorified socks for your horses. All they really do is protect the outside of your horses’ legs from nicks, bites, or anything that might harm them superficially i.e. Skin and hair.

If you wanted to actually protect the tendon with polos, you’d have to wrap them super tight, but by that point, your horses’ legs have no circulation and you can’t go anywhere cause your horses has no feeling. Not to mention if you don’t layer your polos correctly, they can also ruin a horse’s tendons which can cause just as much if not more harm that losing circulation. Tendon boots restrict movement because they are stiff and rigid and can very easily be too big or too small for you horse’s legs. As well, BOTH add heat to your horse’s legs which we all know can have negative connotations later down the road.

So, now that we’ve figured out THAT BOTH OPTIONS PROVIDE NO REAL SUOPPORT OR PROTECTION TO YOUR HORSES TENDONS, what are we going to do about it? The only way to truly protect your horses’ legs is to properly condition them for their intended use. This means to keep in mind your length of exercises, footing, age and health of the horse and to always watch for swelling or heat in your horse’s legs.

Does this mean I can’t use polos or tendon boots anymore? Absolutely not. BUT it DOES mean that you need to always weigh the pros and cons and be meticulous about their use, especially when it comes to fitting and wrapping. Having them too tight or too loose can be dangerous. And you should make sure they are clean and that nothing gets in between the bandages and your horses’ skin.

Happy Riding!

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