There's always the big debate on which supports a performance horse the best: Sport Boots or Polo Wraps? There have been scientific studies on both with one in 1989 on live Thoroughbreds with polos, and studies by Professional's Choice SMB sport boots.
After sending 3 unanswered
emails to Professional's Choice asking for copies of their study that they quote on their website (Our Research
), I finally called the company and requested it over the phone, to which they finally obliged. It just arrived in the mail today. I have attached the images below in the following posts.
They state the following on their website:
Research was conducted on our Sports Medicine Boots at Oklahoma State University under the direction of Dr. Michael Collier and Dr. Olin Balch of the Equine Sports Medicine Laboratory. The results from their tests confirmed the ability of our Sports Medicine Boots to absorb an average of 26% of energy, and up to as much as 45% of energy from hoof impact, while also preventing hyperextension of the fetlock. Standard polo wraps and adhesive bandages that were also tested under similar conditions registered at only 6-10% average energy absorption. Our boots were then examined to see if they restricted the movement of the horse’s ankle. Not only was it found that movements was not inhibited, but that horses actually shifted their weight to the feet that were wearing the boots.
During a workout as horses get tired, they naturally shift their weight to different feet, but in this study they immediately shifted their weight to those legs wearing the boots, enforcing the belief that horses should wear supportive boots on all four legs to maintain normal weight distribution.
During a workout as horses get tired, they naturally shift their weight to different feet, but in this study they immediately shifted their weight to those legs wearing the boots. Professional’s Choice is the only company to have rigorously tested protective equine boots with certified veterinarians in a laboratory setting.
Based on the actual study, let's examine their claims. "absorb an average of 26% of energy, and up to as much as 45%"
"while also preventing hyperextension of the fetlock."
- This seems a bit far-fetched and possibly misleading, especially to throw that 45% number out there. The study did show that a booted hind leg (using six cadaver "dead" legs, but not a real horse) absorbs between 4.7% and 36.8% of energy for their Prototype SMB, 7.5% to 31.7% for their SMB I boot, 11.2% to 44.7% for their SMB II boot, and 10.5% to 45% for a used (20 hours) SMB II boot. The ranges I have stated are the ranges between the 6 legs tested. As you can see, there was only one leg that achieved 45% energy absorbtion out of all six. Yet they state that as a claim on their website. Yes, I do believe that they provide some level of support, but to claim 45% from the top end of the standard deviation from one isolated result is very misleading to the public, in my opinion. To be fair, they should have also stated that they can provide as little support as only 4.7% which would be the low end of the standard deviation. But that's the number marketing game.
- In addition, they should clarify that it was a used SMB II boot that provided the 26% average energy absorption, since the prototype, and "new" SMB I and SMB II boots provided 20.7%, 20.2%, and 23.4% energy absorption respectively. Although, the four boots used were shown to be not statistically different from each other (p >0.05), so I suppose it is valid that they did not specify which boot provides the 26% protection.
"Standard polo wraps and adhesive bandages that were also tested under similar conditions registered at only 6-10% average energy absorption."
- In the study provided to me (that I will include in the posts below) they did not have this actual finding. This statement is false. What they said in the actual study report in the conclusion section is the following: "Biomechanically, these support boots should reduce hyperextension of the fetlock in exercising horses and therefore reduce the strain in the structures that constitute the suspensory apparatus of the fetlock." They did NOT actually test it. They basically guessed that it "should" reduce hyperextension. They have no scientific basis to make the claim that it can actually prevent hyperextension. Absurd.
"Our boots were then examined to see if they restricted the movement of the horse’s ankle. Not only was it found that movements was not inhibited, but that horses actually shifted their weight to the feet that were wearing the boots. During a workout as horses get tired, they naturally shift their weight to different feet, but in this study they immediately shifted their weight to those legs wearing the boots, enforcing the belief that horses should wear supportive boots on all four legs to maintain normal weight distribution."
- They must have pulled this from some other study because they do not mention these numbers anywhere in the report I recieved (and attached below). They do mention a study from 1990 that is referenced that I am assuming they pulled these numbers from; I will see if I can find it anywhere.
- In the study I received, they used cadaver legs. I have no idea where they have examined these boots on real horses. When I requested all research articles by Professionals Choice for their sport boots, the lady I spoke with told me that this was the only one. Clearly she didn't know what the heck she was talking about, because on the back page it says they originally did a study in 1990. It appears that this study was done in 1995 but not published until 1998. They are already closed for the night, so I will have to call on Monday to find out.
- Therefore, since there is no mention of testing the boots on live horses, I consider this entire paragraph bologna, at this point in time because I see no proof that they have tested these boots on real horses.
- They even admit several times in the conclusion section of the article that the force used on the cadaver legs (2.1 cm/s) is very much lower than the real energy used on a real moving horse. Also, they admit that "live horses working at speed are necessary to validate the use of support boots as techniques to prevent and rehabilitate injuries" and they later on say that "Nevertheless, experimentation with live horses moving at speed on the surfaces where horses compete will be necessary to confirm that equine support boots do, indeed, reduce fetlock hyperextension and subsequent flexor and suspensory strain". This last statement reinforces my statement above that it is false of them to say their support boots prevent hyperextension of the fetlock.
Now, let me just say that all my horses wear Professional's Choice SMB boots on all four legs. I love their products. I have no doubt that they do provide some level of support, and no doubt physical protection for the legs, but I just have a problem when companies skew their results to make them sound better than they actually are......... 45%???? Prevents hyperextension????? Live horses shifted their weight to the boots, when they have never tested live horses?????
Okay. There's my nerdy scientific evaluation.
Maybe I'll have more answers and/or studies to back up their other claims when I talk to someone who knows of these "studies that don't exist" like that lady told me. Because clearly there are others!