The Right Fit
Sizing depends on the brand of boot. We’d like to see industry standards, of course, but that’s not imperative, since the real key is that your horse has plenty of coverage.
For example, JPC Equestrian’s Tuff Rider boots only come in one size. The Toklats come in sizes from mini small, 8 ??” inches, to 18” for a large horse (these have an extra closure). The Schneiders Saddlery boots just come in one size, with the front boots at 23” tall and the back ones at 32”. And the Pessoas come in horse and pony sizes. Weaver boots come in small, medium, and large, ranging from the small with a 19” front boot to the large, with a 21” front boot. (Rear-leg boots are obviously always taller.)
As a general guide, figure that a small boot will usually fit a 13- to 15-hand horse, a medium boot will fit a 15- to 17-hand horse, and a large boot will fit horses that are 17 hands and up.
Determining which boots are front and which are back can be confusing at first, if you’re not used to them. Basically, the ones that look “bent,” are typically the rear boots, shaped to fit over a hock. Tabs go to the outside, facing back — like they do on polo wraps, splint boots, and stirrup-spur straps — always pull back against the bone, not forward against the tendon.
When you apply the closures, be sure to attach the middle closures first, then determine that you have the boot in the right spot with maximum coverage. That makes it easier to adjust the boot if necessary. Then you can close the rest of the straps, being sure they’re properly secured to the boot.
The boot that fit all our criteria — hoof guards, plenty of coverage, three big hook-and-loop closures, and no-fleece interior lining — were the Dover Saddlery Pro Shipping Boots. They cost a reasonable $89.90. No shavings or straw clung to these, so the horses got off the trailer looking as fresh as when they got on.
If economy’s your thing, check Toklat’s quilt-lined shipping boots. They do not have hoof guards (although we’re told they may on future models), but these boots are well-made, nicely shaped, and offer plenty of leg/hoof coverage. At $39.95, we think they’re truly a Best Buy.