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Ok, for those who don't know, horses are beautiful creatures but they are prone to hurting themselves - all that bodyweight on such spindly little legs - great for speed but not always so good for durability! So we try to protect those legs as best we can. (Those who know horses will find useful information further down).
Firstly, just below the knee is a straight part of the leg called the cannon bone. Horses can often knock themselves here, so we use boots called 'brushing boots' to protect this area.
Another area that can be injured is the knee itself. When riding a horse on the roads, occasionally something can cause them to slip or trip and if they fall down onto their knees they can do a lot of damage here which can take a long time to repair. We therefore use boots called 'knee boots' to protect the knees.
Traditionally, knee boots are a bit like a cricket box - a hard pad. They have straps which attach it to the leg above and below the knee. The upper straps do up firmly but the lower ones have to be quite loose in order for the horse to be able to flex its leg properly without the strap digging in. The problem with these dangly straps is that if you are doing faster work it is possible for the horse to catch its hind foot on the front strap and this makes some people hesitant to use knee boots, particularly for faster work.
If I am doing roadwork on my horse and it's been raining or icy so the roads are more slippery than usual, I like to use both brushing boots and knee boots to protect against possible injury. This is a right faff as it starts to feel like it takes longer to get the horse ready than the actual ride! So I'm always on the lookout for equipment that's going to make my life easier.
A few years ago I discovered the Westropp knee and brushing boots. What a great idea! They are basically brushing boots which extend up at the front to cover the knee area with a hard padded piece. They are made from neoprene with a soft nylon lining, and the strike pads are made from moulded PVC with cushioning.
They attach with Velcro straps around the cannon just like normal brushing boots, but as there is no need for the dangly straps you get with knee boots, they are safer for trotting. The manufacturers suggest that they are only used for walk and trot work but in practise, I have found them fine for steady cantering too.
The Velcro straps are a little weird in that they fasten from the back to the front in contrast to almost all boots which fasten towards the rear. I'm not sure why this is, presumably something to do with the solid padding down the front of the leg which is different to standard brushing boots and would interfere with where the straps normally sit.
Although that's a bit strange I don't find that it in any way compromises the fit of the boots.
They stay in place perfectly and have never rubbed, although I do only use them when I'm doing roadwork and the roads are slippery so they don't get continual every day use.
They cost around £25 for a pair.
They are machine washable and, after a few years of occasional use, mine look pretty much as good as new.
In summary, these are an excellent solution as a replacement for using both brushing boots and knee boots and do the job of both perfectly well.