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Horses are incredibly valuable beings no matter how much you spend on buying one. They should be properly cared for and looking after properly. I try and take care of my horses to the best of my ability and from past experience one thing I do religiously is take care of their legs. I've mentioned before that one of my horses has arthritis in his legs amongst other problems and as he still ridden I want to ensure that his legs are looked after at all times. All my horses wear boots known as brushing boots which protect their legs.
My horse with issues has delicate skin and hair which is partly down to his breeding and because he has his various issues the normal brushing boots that I own are a bit too heavy and they end up rubbing his fur. I opted for bandages to start off with, which I found fiddly and time consuming to put on and take off so after a bit of searching I opted for Equilibrium's Stretch & Flex Wraps.
I measured my horse's legs and ordered online. When I received them I was amazed at how thin and light they were. They come in packs of two, so I ordered two packs and the wraps for the hind legs are slightly larger than the front wraps. I was really impressed at how soft they were as I don't want any more fur rubbing as it eventually irritates the horse. The wraps are made from breathable stomatex which is a fabric which helps regulate body temperature so basically hotter the horse the more breathable the wrap will become.
The Stretch & Flex Wraps offer support of an exercise bandage but without the hassle of putting them on and taking them off! Even though they are incredibly lightweight they are made to protect the horses legs from minor knocks and scrapes making them ideal for flatwork schooling and hacking out (if your horse is confident away from home). They are completely flexible so they don't restrict your horses movement when schooling which some of the tougher and more rigid brushing boots can do.
I couldn't wait to try these on my horse as I was already quite impressed! To fit the wraps they go exactly wear your usual brushing boot would be. So on the front leg they boot should sit just comfortably just below the knee and for the hind boots they should sit by the heel. They secure by hook and loop straps which are incredibly secure once fastened. The wraps should never be fastened too tight as this will be uncomfortable for the horse, but they should never be too loose either as they can fall down.
The boots fit perfectly on my horse and he had no problems walking to the arena for his flatwork session. I was impressed to see that the boots were flexible enough to bend with each step he took which was obviously more comfortable for him as they weren't restricting him, they seemed to mould to his leg which formed almost a second skin. I was really impressed with these wraps as he seemed to pick his legs up more when schooling and once he was over his stiff stage (due to arthritis) at the beginning he really loosened up, his back legs were coming up higher and his front legs were gaining length which was great to see as he obviously didn't feel restricted. This may have been a coincidence but I'm sure the lightweight wraps had something to do with it as he wasn't doing any odd steps that he sometimes did with his other brushing boots.
After he finished I noticed that his legs were not as sweaty as I expected. I thought that even though the wraps are made from a breathable material I thought he'd still sweat quite a bit due to the weather and the fact that he did quite a lot of work. His legs were sweaty but just required a damp sponge going over them. However, the wraps were quite damp and needed to be left out to dry. I have before now given them a dunk in a bucket of water to get the sweat off and they dried pretty quickly. The material is quite like neoprene and dries quite quickly. I've been using these wraps on him for about a year now and there has been no more rubbing and they seem to suit him perfectly. They don't restrict his movement whatsoever and they protect his legs from any knocks and bangs which is the two things I was looking for.
Equilibrium Stretch & Flex Wraps come in either black or white and are available in five sizes. This is where it can get a bit complicated! To measure your horse's leg you need to measure the circumference of the cannon bone and hopefully it should give you a suitable measurement.
Sizes are as follows (all in cms):-
0 Extra Small - 16-18
1 Small - 18-20
3 Medium - 20-22
4 Large - 22-24
5 Extra Large - 24-26
Best place to check if you are unsure is the Equilibrium website (www.equilibriumproducts.com) where it outlines exactly how to measure and has the size guides for reference.
The wraps are available from many online retailers and most Equilibrium stockists and prices start from around £31.00 and go up to around £38.00. So not the cheapest protection but for me they are worth every penny.
I would definitely recommend these to anybody like myself who has a horse with delicate skin as they certainly don't rub. The fact that my horse's movement is not restricted is definitely a good thing which as he has his issues, he needs to move around as much as possible. They are easy to wash, simply pop in the washing machine and they come out looking as good as new. Mine have been washed loads of times and they are still in great condition.