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Sports medicine boots, sometimes called support boots, protect a horse’s legs against impact from its other legs or objects like jumps. They are also used to help prevent the over-stretching of the tendon on the back of the horse’s leg. Sports medicine boots, usually made of neoprene lined with soft padding, wrap around the horse’s lower leg and are equipped with a support strap under the fetlock. Some boots are even available with an attached bell boot for complete leg protection.
The purpose of sports medicine boots is to absorb the impact as the horse’s hoof hits the ground. This minimizes the risk of injury to the tendon and ligament. Support boots, however, do not provide the same type of impact protection as splint boots or open-front boots; these particular boots are made with extra layers that cover the more vulnerable areas of the legs.
More and more veterinarians are prescribing sports medicine boots for horses that have experienced a bowed tendon or ligament injury as well as for horses with arthritis. According to a recent study by the Equine Sports Medicine Laboratory at Oklahoma State University, sports medicine boots absorb an average of 26% of energy and up to as much as 45% of energy from hoof impact, while also preventing hyperextension of the fetlock.
Another reason why riders and horse owners love sports medicine boots is because they are relatively easy to apply, provided you know how to do so. The experts at Professional’s Choice® put together this step-by-step guide on the correct method for applying a sports medicine boot to a horse.