Soooooo, aside from being a ball of conundrums to train, the Fritzster also goes through tack like nobody’s business. Somehow he manages to get everything off but his boots, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take a beating. Thank goodness for fast shipping from SmartPak. Where would we be without them? When I’m searching for new products, I read all the reviews I can find so I thought I’d send my thoughts out into the void in case it helps anyone else.
We’ve had to get a weird amount of boots within a few months so I’m starting with that ever growing pile! First we have five thousand overreach boot options…
Eskadron Fleece Top Bell Boots
I’ll preface this with the fact that I’ve always been an Eskadron fan, their products just hold up well. Fritz needs to be turned out with Bell boots as well as ridden in them. We started with using these just under saddle and for lunging but he now has a pair for turnout as well. He had some cuts on his lower front legs which I thought were from his rubber turnout bell boots (see below) and the barn groom thought were from his galloping boots (also below). But as it happens, he cuts himself some other way since he managed to get dinged up when he was naked. In any event, I’m protecting his little nicks from further rubbing with the fleecy tops of these for turnout for the time being. They turn a little when under saddle but don’t flap around too much. The fleece does get dirty and I haven’t found a great way to clean it, but the faux leather bell portion cleans easily with a damp cloth and I brush out any mud in the velcro and soft undersides. I’ve hosed them if they’re super muddy with no problems drying or getting funky. I do not have any hope that they’ll hold up in turnout as they’re too soft, so maybe I’ll end up with the more affordable Walsh fleece tops soon. 17 hand, size 3 and 4 shoe Fritz is comfortable in the XL on both footys.
Eskadron Rubber Bell Boots
These are what I’ve always used and held up the best of all the bell boots we tried for turnout. For the quality, they are certainly worth the $33 price tag. Again Mr F was in the XL in black and they fit well. Super easy to clean, just hose them off when they’re muddy. Interlocking velcro like most Eskadron items so I would never worry they’d go flying. We slightly gouged one of them after four months but they are still usable. I retired them for cut/rubbing concern I mentioned above. But note: they apparently did NOT rub his legs, so don’t let that put you off. I don’t think I can go back to them just because they’ll lay right where he cuts himself, the fuzzy pair will cover it nicely without aggravation but I wish these could be my go-to. They rock.
Kingsland Dressage Bell Boots
Looking for something gentler on his skin, I chose these for a ‘soft’ turnout, knowing that they would get damaged, but even for working boots I would not purchase these again. They ripped within the week and did not seem to fit well from the onset. Again he was in the XL but while the size was appropriate, the fit was awkward and clunky. The spun a LOT which is fine in our fuzzys but uncomfortable seeming in these and the velcro was starting to not be very grippy at the end of their week-long life. At $39, I would recommend upping to the Eskadron Pikosoft boots which are $59.
Professional’s Choice Ballistic Overreach Boot
I’ve used these in the past with great results. The back of the boot has this little nubby that you have to “pop” into the back of the horse’s heel. I’ve used them in turnout as well as under saddle and have always been pleased with the level of protection offered, knowing that they won’t turn and leave your horse’s heels bare at just the wrong moment. You know you’re safe when those babies are on. Unfortunately for Fritz who would really benefit from them, the XL is a tad too small. Even if he wasn’t rub prone, these would be too tight on his leg to use. But if you’re a SmartPak shopper with a less than ginormous animal, give these a try with the comfort you can return them if they don’t fit!
Eskadron Fleece Polo Wraps
Ideally, I’d stick with dressage boots for working but since Fritz decided to cut up his legs, I have to use polos for training so that the cuts aren’t rubbed but his legs are still protected. Some things are just better in the expensive versions; Chloe bags, cold pressed juice, lulu pilates pants… these Eskadron wraps are no exception to that rule and worth every penny. I’ve had a lot of wraps in my day but these take the cake with a boatload of rainbow sprinkles on top. They are longer than the standard so you can layer really nicely, the velcro is strong and wide and the fleece keeps my guy dry. Plus this anthracite (super dark gray) pair is the PERFECT color for dirty, muddy training days. I couldn’t love them more. Fritz is wearing the anthracite in the photo at the bottom of the post as well.
Premier Equine Air-Cooled Boots
Maybe it’s the eventer in me, but I LOVE these boots. I purchased them at SmartPak, and some of the reviews noted that they were difficult to fit so I was nervous when I ordered online. But the Large Hinds and Medium Fronts fit Fritz perfectly! Remember that he’s 17h so he’s a little taller than most, order both sizes if you can and return the ones that aren’t as perfect. I will say, they are a little tricky for other people to put on. Perhaps if my horse wasn’t so scootchy (he’s still nervous about hind boots, patience is the key), then would-be-pony-dressers would be able to take a moment mid-booting and look at the design to figure it out. They aren’t that complicated, they have three straps to velcro on the front and four on the back like normal boots. But lining them up correctly is a little less obvious. The blue bits in the photos are “air vents” so they have to be aligned with the air vent on the under-side to actually work, the boot has to be turned and placed on the leg correctly for the straps to line up. Just note where the pad sits on the back of the leg and you’ll get it right every time. From my experience they line up perfectly and keep him very cool in the Florida heat. I also love that the hind boots go up higher in the back than any other I’ve used. For a horse that doesn’t know where his legs are most of the time, this is awesome. You’ll notice that the fronts in the top picture cut away on the front of the leg right where my
pony is getting rubs (which are in fact cuts not rubs)…so 1. yay proof that they don’t rub! but 2. boooo they won’t protect his legs where I need him to be covered during turnout. I love them though, and highly recommend for anyone who wants a cool turnout boot or lightweight cross country or jump boots. They’re the bees knees. Whenever Fritz doesn’t have cuts on his fetlock joints, we jump at the chance to use these guys over the time-consuming polo wraps.
Woof Wear Pro Event Boots
Again, perhaps its the eventer upbringing, but I’ve used Woof boots since the beginning of time. I purchased these at the same time as the above air-cooled boots before pony got here and decided to keep the Premier Equine set and returned these. This pair is nicely made and they have nice thick strike pads. The velcro has three straps around the leg and one that secures over those three which is good, but it doesn’t look quite as elegant as the others. The XL hinds and L fronts also fit a bit awkwardly and I didn’t love them enough to try to find a better fit.
Eskadron Pro Dressage Boots
I have some pros and cons with these little gems. First, I like that they wrap around the fetlock nicely, but unlike polos they are a little looser in that bottom section. The strap that goes around the fetlock is stretchy enough that you can make them more snug and still support the ligaments, just takes a little adjusting. In Eskadron style, the velrco is intensely good and even though the three straps are a little spaced out, they don’t bunch or gap. There is also a bit of a cut-out in the front to give better range of motion. Obvi I got white, so cleaning is a bit of a chore but they’re made of a sort of fuzzy neoprene so I hose them off. I prefer something a little less stain-able if we’re going out to work after a good rain though. I got my set at Calevo but these are now available here at Dover also and Equiporium’s review is here.
And you thought I was kidding when I said we’d tried them all.