There are a lot of different opinions on this but overall I prefer not to boot or wrap unless absolutely necessary. When jumping, if it's a height and footing that the horse is used to and conditioned for, then I will not use leg protection. When going outside of their current conditioning level by more than just a little bit, I use protection. As their conditioning level increases, then I use the boots less - always keeping them unbooted for the level they are currently conditioned for.
I will always use boots for shows when doing jumpers (as many horses tend to get more hyped up at shows, and are more likely to take a misstep or cause injury), and will always use boots for XC as there's a different level of danger/challenge there.
I will also use boots when the footing is crappy, and out of range of the horse's conditioning. My horses are conditioned in mud and snow and as long as the conditions are reasonable (and the workout comparable for the level of conditioning of the horse and the tolerance of the footing - we're not hand galloping a 3'6" fence in slop just because....and w/o protection mind you...), then they do not wear boots. If the ring is extra-hard let's say, where the concussion of riding is going to be magnified and I'm doing more than a light workout, then I'll boot/wrap. Even hard ground has its conditioning benefits in moderation. Keywords - IN MODERATION. And of course you need to build up the horse to the right level of conditioning not just go out and go gung ho!
very informative post, and you make allot of sense.
Here is my train of thought though - being an eventer through and through.
Horses take allot of traction when jumping, whether fabulously conditioned or not. There is allot of shock taken in on landing, if they hit the fence, and even when hand galloping over the uneven terrain.
Allot of traction, allot of shock, allot of wear and tear. Just as professoinal athletes you see in the Olympics who wear top notch running shoes to help absorb all of that, why not the same with our horses?
We see allot of injuries in the leg area. Shin Splints, torn tendons, ligaments. We see bowed tendons - not only because of lack of proper conditioning and riders throwing their horses over fences because they, the rider wants to jump - without putting any consideration into the horse....but also because of lack of protection and care of the legs while jumping.
I want my partners legs well protected when we jump - that is why I always use SMB's.
They do all of the above, protect, prevent, support. They help to take in that energy that would be fully absorbed into their joints and ligaments as it is, minimalizing that wear and tear.
My horses legs are conditioned due to lots of Hacking, Dressage and Conditoining over terrain. But when I jump, I want that extra needed protection - regardless.
I want longivety in those legs of his, because he is very valuable to me. And I do that by adequate, proper protection.
I went to the equine affair in Detroit Michigan a couple of years ago - and they put on a long and thorough clinic about that, very informative. Held and hosted by Equine Veterinarians who specialize in leg injuries.
And after watching what I saw, and taking in what was given tome, that is why I use SMB's. Maybe for my own personal relief.....who's to say. But I've seen the proof of what these boots do, and I swear by mine.