They don't need leg protection for trail rides.
As an example. NATRC which puts on 50 miles Competitive Trail Rides will disqualify you if your horse has any protection above the Cornet band. For a long time this was a problem with barefoot horses that wanted to wear hoof boots because of the gaiters going above the cornet line.
I watch mustangs run across the desert, Often covering 20 miles every day with no leg protection.
I ride a thousand miles a year with no leg protections. I don't even own any.
We ride thru rocks, boulders and blown down trees.
We break thru crusty snow
And wade rivers.
And push cows thru brush
Your horse will do just fine with out leg protection on the trail.
I used to use leg protection on the trail years and years ago, but never do now. The horses always got too much stuck up into the boots - grass, bits of sticks, etc. And they also stay water logged after creek crossings.
I think the only time I don't have leg protection on my barrel horses is when we trail ride
I use SMBs and overreach boots on my horses so they have some protection if a leg hits leg. I know they don't provide the joint support they claim, but it still makes me feel better to use them.
I don't use them on the trail because we're just going in a straight line, on good ground. I use them for arena and pattern work because we're doing quick stops and turns and lots of backing. Posted via Mobile Device
I've only used overreach boots on one horse that had a problem.
Other than that *knock on wood* over the 25+ years I've been SERIOUSLY trail riding I've never had a single injury and my horses have all been barefoot and bare legged. They tend to be more of a problem/irritant than anything else.
Now if you're planning on doing cross country jumping on your trails then they might need some support, but for day long rough terrain rides he should be fine without.
Leg protection is going to do way more harm than good on the trails.
It will get things stuck in the boots and irritate the horse. They can wear out the velcro on brush and debris. They can get stuck and be unable to free their leg. Polos will get stuck or come undone and snag on things.
Don't worry about your horse's leg. Horses run and play without boots all the time. Mustangs never wear boots for obvious reasons. Besides, the boots don't offer THAT much support in the first place. Just a couple percent extra. Polos even less, splint boots are just there for overreaching. Unless you have a total basket case horse who trips and steps on themselves every stride, don't put boots on the trail ride.
If your horse isn't sound enough to be ridden without boots either, then you have a whole other problem entirely.
Travelling down a trail is not like doing a reining pattern in an arena. Horse are not nearly as apt to step on the other leg when they are moving in a straight line as they are when you are asking for lots of lateral movements.
Although I think a cowboy working calves at branding or chasing pairs out of creek bottom probably do as much if not more lateral work as any trainer schooling a horse.
But in general trail riding is not a Speed event. And since the horses are working at slower speed, they are better able to keep track of their feet.