Want to know how to put on tendon boots?
It’s not as hard are you think!
Just follow my easy step-by-step guide and you’ll have your horse’s boots on in a couple of minutes.
Let’s dive right in!
How to Put on Tendon Boots: Step-by-Step Guide
There are several steps in learning how to how to put on boots but once you’ve mastered it, it only takes a few seconds per leg.
#1 Choose the Right Size
Before you even start to put on tendon boots, you need the right size for your horse. Most boots come in small, medium, and large but you can also find some styles in extra-large.
To do this you can take a cloth measuring tape and wrap it around the center of the cannon bone.
A general guide to follow is that a circumference of 6.5 to 9 inches is small, 9 to 10 inches is medium, and over 10 inches is large. There is some leeway here and there will be some variations depending on the brand.
The top of the boot should come close to the top of the tendon but be sitting about an inch below the back of the knee. If the boot goes all the way up it can interfere with the function of the tendon as the knee bends.
Check the 10 Best Tendon Boots for Horses in this video:
#2 Clean the Legs
You will need to make sure your horse’s legs are clean before putting on tendon boots. In fact, this goes for any type of boot, such as sports boots and brushing boots.
This part will be done during your pre-ride grooming. Brush the legs to remove any dirt, bits of bedding, or hay. Doing this is important for two reasons.
- Even small particles of dirt stuck under tendon boots can cause irritation to the skin or your horse.
- Small pieces of shavings from bedding can get stuck in the hair. Putting a boot over these can actually create a sliver that can penetrate the skin. It can even cause an infection. I’ve seen it happen myself as unlikely as it seems!
#3 Determine the Left and Right Boot
Just like your shoes, tendons boots go on a specific leg. Some boots will have a small mark tell you ‘L’ or ‘R’ but don’t count on this.
The rule is that the straps always point back. That is the end (not permanently attached) points towards the horse’s tail.
My tip for figuring this out is to hold the boot facing forward (open side facing the head) next to the leg.
Pull one of the straps around as if you are about to attach it. If it is pointing towards the tail, you have the right one for that leg.
#4 Put On Tendon Boots
Now that you have the correct boot for each leg, it’s time to put them on. Take the boot a hook it onto the leg just behind the knee. Then slide the boot down until it fits into place.
The lower part of the tendon boot will be shaped to fit over the fetlock, so it is pretty easy to feel when it is in the right place.
Do up the first strap first. And then the second and if your boots have a third so that one.
The straps need to be snug enough that the boots won’t slip down but never very tight. You should be able to squeeze your finger in between the boot and the leg.
Make sure the pressure is even for all straps. You don’t want too much pressure on one part of the leg.
Check this video for an actual demonstration:
Horse Boot Tips
Use the same process for all types of leg protection you use including brushing and splint boots. Some boots can cause confusion as they have extra straps. Keep in mind that the main straps always point back.
Some boots, such as sports boots will have an extra strap that wraps under the fetlock and is strapped on an angle.
There is just a slight difference in how to put on horse sport boots but most of the straps face toward the tail.
The exception is the bottom strap. This particular strap is the exception as it secures going up towards the knee, facing forward.
If your horse has a tendency to overreach then you should consider using bell boots.
These boots protect the heel of the front legs from the hind leg catching and causing an overreach injury, which can be difficult to heal.
Bell boots only go on the front legs and cover nearly the entire hoof. Sometimes you will see them used on a single hind leg by therapists for a horse that needs proprioception rehab.
There are two types of boots that go on the rear legs, fetlock boots, and hind boots. Tendon boots never go on the back legs. Fetlock boots are much shorter and only go over the fetlock joint.
Hind boots can be special boots that cover the whole cannon bone. They are similar to brush boots but offer more protection. You will usually see these kinds of boots on eventing horses during the cross-country phase.
The same rule applies when you put these boots on. Just remember straps pointing back.
Don’t Leave Boots On Long
All types of leg boots will create heat buildup of the leg. It is important to reduce this as much as possible, so as soon as you finish your ride remove the boots.
Why Do Horses Wear Tendon Boots?
The main tendon boots purpose is to protect the lower leg from impact injuries, particularly the tendons which are vulnerable.
So why do horses wear boots? Let’s take a look.
Jumping horses do a lot of active, fast work. This puts their front legs at high risk of strikes from the hind legs.
Tendon boots have extra-strong shells that take some of this impact. They can protect from serious bruises or even worse cuts, or tendon injury.
The lining will help absorb some of the shocks. Showjumpers almost always wear open-front boots.
This is to help the horse learn from the mistake of hitting one of the jump’s poles. If you are jumping these are the most popular choice.
If the horse feels that it has hit or even rubbed the pole it will usually avoid doing it if possible for the next jumps.
In addition to a standard pair of boots, you will come across boots for tendon injuries in horses and medical boots for horses.
These types of boots are not for everyday use and should only be used for a specific purpose under the guidance of a vet or experienced trainer.
An example of medical boots is Ice-Vibe boots. You do not ride with these boots but put them on the legs to treat an injury.
They have an ice pack that sits inside the boot which creates a slight vibration that helps improve blood flow.
Another type of boot you will see is shipping boots. These are highly padded and cover the hocks or are knees. You only use these boots for traveling and they can protect against traumatic injuries.
Related: Horse Tendon Injury Symptoms
Here’s a quick round-up of common tendon boot fitting questions.
How tight should tendon boots be?
Tendon boots should be snug, but not too tight. If you can get your finger in between the boot and the leg without the boot sliding down, then it is probably correct.
Do tendon boots go on front or back?
Tendong boots only go on the front legs. For the back legs use fetlock of hind boots.
How do you measure tendon boots?
There is some room to play with withing tendon boot sizes. Use a soft measuring tape to get the circumference of the cannon bone and choose the size based on that comparing it to the brand’s size chart.
At first, it might seem complicated to put on tendon boots but I assure you it’s really easy. You just need a little practice at the start. If you ever get unsure, always ask someone with experience to give you a hand.
- e-shop-direct by Arendicom. 2019. “The Right Size | Features | Veredus Shop.” Veredus.com. 2019. https://www.veredus.com/es-at/en_GB/content/blog-5016533/entry-the-right-size-97393.
- “How to Select Horse Boots | Dover Saddlery.” 2021. Doversaddlery.com. 2021. https://www.doversaddlery.com/how-to-select-horse-boots/a/447/.
Do you have more tips on how to put on tendon boots easily? Please share with us in the comments below!
Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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