I have certainly purchased my fair share of bell boots thanks to E. He has a wonderful knack of removing his shoes – most often doing a big trot across the diagonal and about 3 strides in. That and prevention of over reach injuries.
I must say this unfortunate talent of allowing me to market test various brands of bell boots is not down to our farrier. E has big movement, huge movement when really asked…those hind legs just seem to come right through. Off course the talent extends to removing them whilst lying down, getting up, eating, being washed and most recently being trimmed. You see he lives in bell boots, I really only remove them once we are in the ring – even then I’ve ridden a fair few classes at muddy shows with them on!
Being frank – these are the ones I think anyone by choice would use for muddy days but certainly not the prettiest or even the best value. I have found the Gum coloured pull on style fairly easy to use, soak in hot water and on they go, last a fair decent time however they are pretty unfashionable and not the easiest to remove for hoof oiling etc. Don’t even both with the coloured pull on ones…must be something in the rubber compound but they are more “excessive force to get on”.
As for fleece lined rubber ones the white rubber seems to last much longer, we used a pair through a wet rainy winter…easy to hose off and dry. Purchased a black pair in early Nov, split up the side and now heading for the bin (or some inventive cloth taping?).
The straight neoprene ones I dont like using primarily as they dont wash and dry easily. I only ever use in conjunction with bandaging legs up when float, means the pads can go higher up the legs for protection.
My first pair are 2 years old and still going strong. The ballistic layer came off about a month into ownership, a air bubble formed between that and the underneath making the pattern not visible. I helped it off, I like pretty coloured boots. They have frayed a bit at the back as well and now retain a slightly odd shape, initially they rubbed a bit on the sides from the top lining but over time moulded to the leg. The right top velcro strap has fallen victim to a few times and it has been stitched back on. Onto a 2nd pair (purchased 2nd hand yay!) and the right velcro is also a casualty. I suspect that’s our on special issue and not the boots fault.
Right boot velcro aside, they are serious boots for serious work horses and my daily choice. I don’t use them in wet conditions as they are to heavy, mud sticks and you certainly dont get much air up under them.
I’ve never felt the need to purchase any of the other US brands, though they do have some fairly funky designs! I have found Black Yak to be the cheapest/quickest…beats any Australian saddlery price!
Dressage Queen Styles
HKM – I purchased these a while back, although not worn 24/7 instead for rides the sheepskin wore out very quickly and detached itself from boot.
Eskadron…the ultimate of bell boots. I find they cannot be worn 24/7 they heat the hoof up and dont allow much air around the coronet band. The fleece ones are a must for dressage queen styling, you simply cannot claim your tiara without these on. Im looking forward to ordering a pair in brown! And patent ones…always one for shiny, perhaps they will stay cleaner as well.
I have not purchased the Calevo brand boots as I’d rather spend a few more $ and have the name brand. It’s totally about the look ;-). That said Calevo and Furfeathermeds are the *best* supppliers of reasonable priced accesories…I have not yet found a Australia supplier who is cheaper.
As for loosing shoes, I looked into those things that clip on the back of the shoe, you cannot ride in them so I didn’t make the purchase.
Foam and vetwrap works reasonably well for my shoe keeping on purposes – I usually do this the night before a big trip or the week before a big show. It however looks very odd and people think your riding some terribly abscessed horse.
I have not included full sheepskin (bell) boots on purpose…these boots deserve a whole post…seeing as how they have a fair chunk of my tack space. 😉