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Leg protection for horses comes in many forms, from shipping wraps or boots, to bell boots. This article will cover the different types available, discuss their uses, how to care for them and, where necessary, provide you with detailed information about how to apply them.
Protection While Shipping
If you've ever had to stand on a public bus, you know that when the bus turns a corner, you have to lean and often have to move your feet to give you a better base of support. The same goes for horses when they are being transported in trailers or horseboxes. The chances of them having to scramble to keep their footing is lessened, of course, by a sympathetic driver. But you never know when some other maniac driver is going to do something stupid in front of you, causing you to have to change lanes quickly or brake hard.
Equipping your horse with shipping boots or wraps will protect his legs from being stepped on or kicked, either by the horse in the next stall or by one of his own legs.
Back in the (ahem) old days, when I started out with horses, we wrapped the lower leg in cotton batting and then covered that with either stretchy "exercise wraps" or non-stretchy "standing wraps" extending from just below the knee to just below the fetlock. Additional protection was provided by special knee boots and bell boots to protect the coronet. This combination (with quilts used instead of the old-fashioned cotton batting) can still be used, but a much easier option is to use specially manufactured shipping boots which are now on the market. These boots wrap around the lower leg and attach with velcro. In some designs, the front boots extend up at the front to protect the knee and hind boots extend up at the back to protect the hock. Front and back boots extend down over the coronet.
Polo wraps are stretchy wraps, made of a thick, plush fleecy fabric. In addition to providing some protection from knocks and dings, they act like warm ups during exercise. They can be also used over quilts to provide protect during shipping. Care should be taken when applying polo wraps to make sure that they are applied evenly, since uneven wrapping may cause a tendon injury.
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