Boots and bandages trick the body into not conditioning itself because you applied a external something the body then learns to compensate for and rely on.
The problem comes when for some reason you don't boot or bandage and work the horse...oops.
Just pulled or strained a area where that "appliance" the horse has become accustomed to wearing...isn't.
Can you show me the research that shows that boots or wraps provide SIGNIFICANT "support"?
Because I've never seen it. So this notion that wearing boots/wraps will "weaken" or cause a horse not to be "conditioned" is false. For the miniscule
amount (in single digit percentages) that a boot/wrap reduces the forces of landing/loading on the fetlock joint, well, it doesn't amount to much.
Where you end up straining things is if you (for example) work a horse hard in deep footing that isn't used to deep footing. That will cause a strain.
Do I need to be investing in a set of boots or polo wraps for the horse I have been working with?
It is up to you, but I personally like to have my horses booted up when I'm doing various things with them including jumping work, reining work, and barrel racing work for the simple purpose of physical protection (not support). While it's rare for them to step on themselves or knock a jump, I would much rather them have the physical protection on, rather than get a flesh wound or a bone bruise because they accidentatly caught themselves one time.
For the rest of my "regular" riding (which is most of the time) out on the trail, I do not boot up.