Horse Equipment - Brushing Boots
What is Brushing?
Brushing or speedy cutting is when a horse hits the inside of one leg with the opposite hoof. This is most common with the front legs.
Brushing is normally caused by poor conformation, specifically a very narrow chest and corresponding narrow gap between the front legs. It is, thus, seen most commonly in Thoroughbreds and crosses, that tend to be narrow with longer legs. It is, however, a relatively rare problem. Brushing of the hind legs is almost unknown.
Brushing boots are placed on the legs that are prone to brush. They strap around the horse's cannon bone. Brushing boots have a heavy pad on the inside that extends over the inside of the fetlock. This is designed to prevent contact with the opposite leg from causing injury to the horse.
They are generally secured with three or four velcro straps or buckles on the outside. Most brushing boots are made of a heavy synthetic called neoprene. More expensive ones are leather. Neoprene brushing boots come in all kinds of colors and can be color coordinated with your horse and other equipment.
It is important to fit brushing boots correctly (a common mistake amongst novices is to put them on upside down...the widest part of the pad should be at the bottom.) They come in various sizes to fit different leg lengths and widths, and it is very important not to use boots that are too large or too small - neither is comfortable for the horse.
Other Uses of Brushing Boots
Brushing boots are sometimes believed to provide support for tendons. However, they do not - they are not quite the same thing as tendon boots and a properly applied wrap provides better support than boots. Tendon boots also protect against brushing, but are considerably more expensive. They are also open in the front. This makes them more popular with showjumpers, as many trainers believe that protecting the front of the cannon makes the horse more careless over fences.
Brushing boots are also often put on horses when going cross country and are sometimes used by hunters. Although actual cross country boots are more expensive, brushing boots are sufficient for occasional use.
Finally, some people believe in putting boots, usually brushing boots, on every horse, every ride, to help mitigate freak accidents. (Others believe they should almost never be used).