In contrast to bandages, gaiters are made of much harder material and are often used for jumping, eventing and cross-country disciplines. Dressage boots are a bit softer, often have faux fur and are closed with Velcro.
Boots protect your horse's front and back legs. Boots are available in different sizes for horses and ponies. In addition, the gaiters on the hind legs are always slightly larger than on the front legs of the horse. The hard material used in hard-shell gaiters, fetlock gaiters and all-round gaiters protects the horse and pony from knocks and scrapes better than bandages do.
You can get gaiters with either neoprene or lambskin or artificial fur lining. The outer material can be made of plastic, carbon, Kevlar, leather or artificial leather, as well as nylon.
Gaiters as impact protection
Gaiters offer very reliable protection of the horse's leg. They prevent small stones from being thrown at the animal's legs, for example when riding or show jumping, and causing unpleasant pain there. The gaiters also have a stabilizing effect, which relieves the legs. In show jumping, the gaiters are supplemented by so-called fetlock boots on the hind legs. These are shorter than gaiters and only enclose the fetlock of the hind leg. They prevent injuries caused by kicking the legs.
Gaiters as tendon protection
In addition, the gaiters offer good protection for tendons and ligaments. The tendons are extremely stressed when riding. If the load is too high, the tendons can cause inflammation or, in the worst case, tear. If the gaiters are used correctly, they are no problem for the animal. If they are too tight, however, they can cause lasting damage to the horse in the form of blood congestion and pressure damage.
How useful are gaiters for horses?
The sense and nonsense of gaiters has been discussed for a long time. If your horse runs in dressage without grazing, it does not necessarily need leg protection. When jumping or in eventing, however, you should protect your leg. Because gaiters have a shock-absorbing effect. If your horse hits the leg, you can prevent serious damage. Gaiters are also popular when lunging. It is especially necessary if your horse tends to get a little wilder on the lunge. In any case, make sure that the lymph flow is not impaired or that there are chafe marks. Because that can have negative health consequences.
Stable boots are not absolutely necessary. Actually, they are only used on horses that are very restless in the box, such as weaving horses. Since these sometimes step from one leg to the other very quickly, it makes sense to protect sensitive eyes.
Transport gaiters can also be found in almost every tack cabinet. Because many horses have problems balancing themselves correctly, especially when driving. In order to avoid injuries during loading and while driving, you should use transport gaiters. Make sure, however, that you get your horse used to the transport gaiters before the first ride, if it is not familiar with them.