I don’t often use shipping boots or wraps on my horses. I happen to have a stock trailer for hauling, which I do love, and I rarely haul more than one horse at a time. My hauls also tend to be quite short, so I don’t have to worry much about stress on the horse’s legs. However, I do have both a pair of shipping boots (I will share my favorite brand) as well as several sets of standing wraps, and have used both in different trailering situations. Here is when I tend to use each one, and the types of boots I recommend.
Let’s start with what the difference is between boots and wraps. Shipping boots are generally big padded boots that cover a varying area of the horse’s leg depending on the style of the boot. I have owned different types and found that I prefer the ones that cover the hocks and knees all the way down to the heels. It is important to recognize that shipping boots don’t offer support to the leg, but they do protect the leg from injuries during hauling, which can be caused by the horse stepping on himself, hitting his legs against trailer walls, or being kicked by another horse if they are being shipped together without dividers. The short, cheap shipping boots are thin and tend to bunch up, leaving parts of the leg exposed to injury. The ones I own and use now are from Dover Saddlery, they are all nylon for easy cleaning with heavy padding and three large easy to fasten Velcro closures. The bottoms of the boots are reinforced with a plastic piece to protect the heels of the horse. There are many brands that offer this same style, I have just found Dover’s boots, as many of their products, to be a great price and style.
Shipping wraps do assist in supporting the horse’s legs. A shipping wrap is basically just a standing wrap, meaning a large quilted pad is wrapped around the horse’s legs first, followed by a standing wrap, which is about a 4” wide wrapping with moderate to minimal stretch. The tightness of this wrap is what supports the tendons of the leg. It does take some skill and practice, however, to properly apply a standing wrap. The tension as you apply the wrap must be even, and must be snug enough to provide support but not so tight that circulation is restricted. Wraps also need to be applied in a certain direction and manner and certainly take longer to put on then a set of boots. For a video on how to correctly apply leg wraps Click Here.
The bottom line is, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t often put wraps on my horses, but if I have a horse I am concerned may injure himself or be injured by another horse he or she is shipping with, I will use boots. If I am hauling long distance, wraps are better for support, especially for those horses who tend to stock up when standing for long periods.
So, which do you prefer? Do you always use one or the other, or do you keep both around the barn? Leave a comment and let me know!