Weighted boots are used often on show horses to enhance horse performance. While the boots have proven to increase the jump stride of a horse, some research suggests weighted boots could pose health risks.
The purpose of weighted boots is to control a horse's jump stride kinematics. More specifically, the weighted boots help to control a horse's hind limbs for cleaner and higher jumps over fences. The boots, which are attached to a horse's hind limbs, can be used during training and during shows.
Weighted boots have a positive effect on horse performance during shows. A Cambridge Journal study found weighted boots on the hind limbs strengthens the lumbar back and increases back extension. Poor performance in shows often is attributed to bad back movement. The study also found that horses wearing weighted or pressure boots gained 30cm more clearance on fences.
Although weighted boots can have positive effects on show performance, research conducted by the University College Dublin suggests weighted boots also could possibly lead to musculoskeletal problems in horses. In the one study conducted, the college found that the horses that wore weighted or pressure boots had more musculoskeletal problems in the limbs than those that did not wear boots. However, although the study shows a correlation between weighted boots and musculoskeletal problems, it still is unclear if the boots are, in fact, the direct cause of those problems.
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- SciVerse: The Veterinary Journal: Weighted Boots Influence Performance in Show-Jumping Horses
- Cambridge Journals: Equine and Comparative Exercise Physiology
- PubMed: Boots on Horses: Limb Protection or Hyperflexion Training Aids in the Showjumping Horse
- Horse and Hound: Weighted Jumping Boots Could Lead to Long-Term Problems for Horses