Driving home the other day I passed two women riding. One of the horses was wearing knee boots. I haven’t seen them for ages. Probably not since my Stage 2 exam.
So why are knee boots a dying trend? Is it because roads are a better quality and without cobblestones, which makes them less slippery or trip-upable? Or perhaps advances in shoeing styles and techniques, such as natural balance shoes, mean that domestic horses have better foot confirmation and their toes don’t get as long. It could be that our breeding programmes means hooves are a better shape and front legs are a better conformation. Perhaps horses are all better schooled and thus better balanced. Added to the introduction of travel boots, there is less of a requirement for knee boots.
I remember fitting knee boots; top strap just above the chestnut and as tight as possible. I think one finger gap. And the lower strap very loose so that it doesn’t impede the movement of the horse. Hock boots had been removed from the BHS syllabus by the time I trained for it so I’m afraid I’m rather ignorant of the fitting of them. They have almost definitely been replaced by travel boots, which cover and protect the hock.
Thinking about it, I haven’t seen many horses with “broken knees”, which are scarred and knobbly with thick scar tissue.
I’d be interested in knowing who still uses either hock or knee boots and why.