Overreach Boots, sometimes also called, Bell Boots, are round, bell-shaped boots designed to protect the horse from injuries to the bulbs of the heel on the front feet.
The term ‘overreach’ describes both the action and subsequent injury when the hind foot strikes into the heel of the horse’s front foot. Injuries can vary from a minor graze to a significant strike wound. An overreach can cause a shoe to be pulled right off, particularly if the horse is wearing bar shoes which intentionally extend around the back of the foot.
Pulling a shoe is annoying and inconvenient and can result in a secondary injury if the horse treads on one of the clenches. Overreach boots offer protection to the horse during ridden work and on occasion, during turnout.
Some horses due to their natural action are prone to overreaching whereas others are not. Jumping and faster work clearly increase the risk of an overreach but some horses can strike into themselves even in walk if they have a very big over track.
Overreach boots are used in a variety of situations including turnout at grass, show jumping and cross-country. They are also used for horses when they are being lunged and some people use them when they travel their horse.
Our Top Picks for the Best Horse Overreach Boots
This is a stylish boot which you will want to keep for competition but will be tempted to use for everyday wear for your horse because of its functionality and hard wearing practical finish.
Woof Wear have combined knowledgeable design with a stylish finish to produce a smart boot for the ring but one that still does the job it was intended for.
The Pro Faux Sheepskin overreach boot has an extra insert to protect the bulbs of the heel. As with all Woof Wear boots, stitching is recessed to avoid any rubs on the sensitive heel area or pastern and also to protect against wear and prolong the life of the boots.
Contrast the carbon effect outer shell which is super hardwearing with the soft faux sheepskin collar designed to maximise your horse’s comfort. This boot features an extra 3mm insert over the bulbs of the heel for added protection and a double lock strap to ensure the boot remains in place whatever the conditions.
Designed to resist the strongest of impacts, these sleek overreach boots from HyImpact are easy to fit. The tough strike resistant rubber is shaped yet flexible and so is better able to mould to the contours of the horse’s foot as he moves as opposed to some other styles of boot made of a more rigid material.
The cosy sheepskin top ensures the horse is protected from any rubs or chafing so you can leave these boots on comfortably for long periods. The double strap fitting thoughtfully offers extra security with a strong and thick flush fitting meaning these straps are less likely to lose their stick and start to curl away at the ends which can happen over time.
This is a great stylish boot available in black which works hard for everyday use but will still look smart for competition.
The arrival of Neoprene has revolutionised protection options for your horse’s legs. These neoprene overreach boots from HyImpact offer optimal protection for your horse’s sensitive heel area.
Recessed stitching guarantees that there is no rubbing or chaffing ensuring a continuous comfortable fit. The rigidity of Neoprene compared to traditional rubber ensures the boot will remain exactly in position and not rotate around the foot. This lightweight sturdy boot is ideal for prolonged wear such as in the field.
Available in a choice of seven colours, choose a bright colour for turnout as then it is easy to check from a distance that the boots are still in place. Smart enough for competition wear, the colour choices available are bound to have something to fit your turnout theme.
Described as a general purpose boot for everyday wear, you will be impressed at the thought and innovation that has gone into this overreach boot from the trusted name of Woof Wear.
Light and flexible, this boot repels water so doesn’t become heavy and inflexible when wet increasing the risk of a trip hazard. Based on feedback from rider usage and using computer technology, Woof Wear has incorporated an anti-spin device into this boot with a clever soft nodule that fits snugly into the back of the horse’s heel.
The stitching on the boots is recessed to provide optimum comfort also increasing the longevity of the boot as the stitching is protected from fraying and wear. The strike pad has extra padding but overall the boot is lightweight.
The double lock strap offers maximum security – this is one boot that will not move.
This new styled overreach boot from Lemieux is designed for horses who work hard in challenging conditions.
Lemieux has put a lot of time and effort into constructing a boot which is designed for both comfort and protection. As every horse owner knows this means a boot that does not move or rotate around but yet is flexible enough to offer protection and optimal comfort for the horse.
Ergonomic contouring follows the movement of the horse’s foot in all terrain and conditions and the incredibly tough ballistic outer nylon shell will not snag, dent or crush under the severest pressure. A no-turn knob ensures the boot does not move or rotate.
This is the boot for the toughest environments such as hunting or cross-country with all the confidence and expertise behind this well known equestrian name.
If you don’t want to shell out for a premium pair of overreach boots for everyday wear or if your horse is a famous overreach boot trasher then these rubber bell boots from LeMieux are the perfect option.
Forget the floppy designs of yesteryear which wouldn’t have protected anything, these LeMieux bell boots are made from a natural rubber compound so they are flexible yet hard wearing.
Easy to clean, they are ideal for daily or frequent wear for either turnout or horses doing low impact work who are prone to this sort of injury. Because they are less rigid, they suit horses who are not necessarily always the cleanest of movers offering protection without increasing the risk of tripping and stumbling due to their flexibility.
These boots will stay safely in place with a secure double overlocking strap.
Eskadron have combined a neoprene lining with a very hard wearing outer shell of woven fabric to provide a soft yet tough overreach boot to protect your horse in all conditions.
This provides an alternative to traditional rubber which can be too flexible and neoprene which some people find too stiff.
The faux fur rim protects against rubbing and chaffing and is easy to clean and dry and keep soft compared to real sheepskin which becomes waterlogged and clumpy when wet.
The locking strap has a handy little tab which makes these boots really quick and easy to remove, no more wrestling with sticky Velcro. They come in a range of luscious colours including a smart grey and a stylish orchid mauve.
The beautiful colour options of these overreach boots from HKM will really catch your eye but look closer as these boots are designed to be tough and durable as well as smart.
The ‘Space’ Holographic shell is unique to HKM and is padded, designed to be shock absorbing against strike injuries with a faux fur collar to protect against rubbing and chaffing.
A double safety Velcro fastening keeps them securely in place. Despite their luxurious appearance, these space padded overreach boots are hard wearing and durable.
Available in Rose Gold, Aqua or Silver, they will go in the washing machine at 30 degrees so it’s easy to keep them clean and sparkling.
A traditional overreach boot made from 4mm of sturdy rubber, the Rhinegold velcro fastening overreach boot is a great everyday boot.
These boots work well for horses who need to wear them for prolonged periods such as in the stable or in the field and horses who are doing low impact work. They are light and flexible but securely fixed with a double hook and loop closing fitting.
Rhinegold offer these boots in all the standard colours but also have some rather unusual options in their range such as plum and raspberry, ideal for those who really like to work their style with matching kit.
A departure from the standard velcro fitting, JHL overreach boots have a strap and loop fastening.
These are ideal for field use as they don’t clog up with mud as Velcro can and also work well for long periods of work in boggy conditions such as hunting.
Secure yet quick and easy to take off these durable and shaped rubber overreach boots double up as a turnout or a work overreach boot with ease.
Things to Consider When Buying Overreach Boots for Horses
There are various triggers for using overreach boots, usually one or more of the following:-
- The horse’s natural gait and/or style of jumping
- Competitive sporting disciplines
- Corrective shoeing
- General protection for an unpredictable/young horse or an unknown situation
Some horses wear overreach boots all the time, this may be because they are shod with a bar shoe or perhaps because they are just very prone to that type of injury. Some horses only wear them when the occasion demands, for example, a young horse on the lunge who could exhibit some excitable or unpredictable behaviour or an event horse going cross-country.
The Benefits of Using Overreach Boots
Overreach boots offer protection to the soft bulbs of the heel on the horse’s front feet. However, the general rule of thumb is to only fit equipment that the horse really needs.
Unnecessary equipment on the horse can present its own hazard; it needs to remain securely in place without rubbing or chafing and it should not be able to be partially or wholly dislodged during exercise or turnout as this can prove to be a real danger causing tripping or stumbling.
You should, therefore, only use protective boots or bandages if the horse really needs them and not every horse requires overreach boots.
Types of Overreach Boot
Overreach boots or bell boots all conform to a pretty similar design. They are generally round with the intention that they sit on the coronet band above the hoof, Some are more contoured depending on preference and some a slightly squarer towards the back of the hoof.
Choosing the correct overreach boot is really down to personal preference and trial and error will quickly demonstrate which one works best for your particular horse. Some people prefer the rubber bell boot which is soft and flexible whilst others opt for a shorter, stiffer boot for competition that sits quite small on the horse’s foot.
You have the option of using different types of overreach boot for different occasions. A horse that is mooching around the field at home is probably at far less risk of an overreach than a horse going show jumping or cross-country.
Overreach boots are made from either rubber or neoprene which is stiffer. The shape may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but the principle is all the same; the boot is there to protect the bulbs of the heel from injury.
Overreach boots may be on the horse for long periods of time and for some horses, they can cause rubbing. Some makes of boot have recessed stitching which not only protects the stitching from fraying but also means it is not in contact with the horse’s skin. Other styles feature a sheepskin collar to cushion the effect of the neoprene or rubber. Usually, faux sheepskin is used as this is actually easier to keep clean and less likely to go into lumps and clumps when it dries than real sheepskin.
If your horse needs to wear overreach boots a lot then you may keep a couple of cheaper rubber pairs for turnout and winter hacking, easy to clean if they get muddy, just throw them in a bucket. Use smarter neoprene pairs for competition. These would quickly suffer in severe winter weather but could be okay in dry, summer conditions.
Some overreach boots feature a ‘no turn’ device which is a soft knob that sits in the back of the heel. These tend to be the more sculptured or square backed types and the soft knob is there to stop the boot rotating round. The traditional rubber bell boot is completely circular so it is not so significant if this boot rotates although clearly, you would like to keep the straps at the front and the clear rubber in the heel area for protection and to minimise the chances of the horse pulling the boot off.
Magnetic boots and leg wraps are popular for older, arthritic horses and horses that are recovering from injury. Most magnetic boots are used on joints higher up the horse’s leg – the fetlock or hock for example – or as wraps. Magnetic overreach boots do exist but the jury is still out on whether they actually make a difference to certain conditions and ailments in the horse.
Overreach Boots for Turnout
Horses that are prone to overreaching or who wear bar shoes – eggbars or heartbars – are often turned out in overreach boots. As they could be on the horse for a long time, it is important that the boots don’t rub. Some horses seem more prone to rubs than others.
Most people go for ‘cheap and cheerful’ in the field as they can trashed or even lost in a large enough area or in deep muddy gateways. Use bright colours and then you can see from a distance if they are still in place on the horse.
Rubber bell boots are better in wet and muddy conditions as they are more flexible. Mud can pack in underneath the boot and the stiffer neoprene boots can literally become stuck around the foot. They are also more difficult to clean. Mud acts as a suction so, in deep mud, you will be glad you didn’t shell out for that very expensive pair when you discover you have lost one forever in a treacherous gateway.
Overreach Boots for Cross-Country
Using overreach boots for cross-country always causes heated debate. No-one wants their horse to get injured but overreach boots can be a trip hazard when the horse is galloping so you need a very very good reason to put them on. Some event riders use them but trim the boot down so it is a shortened version; it is easier to try and do this with rubber rather than neoprene although Woof Wear sell a Kevlar overreach boot which is designed to be trimmed to create a customised fit.
Rubber overreach boots are lighter and more flexible for cross-country and don’t suffer the effects of mud or water nearly as much as neoprene. These are therefore the most popular type of boot for this discipline.
As with anything attached to the horse when it is travelling at speed, you must be certain that what you put on the horse’s leg will remain securely in place. Perhaps keep a pair of boots just for competition to ensure the Velcro retains its integrity and remains very sticky.
Overreach Boots for Show Jumping
There are generally fewer safety concerns with overreach boots for show jumping compared to cross-country as, for a start, they are on the horse for much less time – maybe one minute as opposed to five or six minutes or longer. And the horse is not travelling at such a great speed.
Most show jumpers prefer a neat overreach boot that does the job but is not too bulky or loose which could interfere with the horse’s jump.
Overreach Boots FAQ
How do you measure for overreach boots to get the right size?
Quite unhelpfully, most overreach boots are sold in small, medium and large sizes but a big horse may not necessarily have correspondingly large feet. Most manufacturers offer a size guide on their websites but this often relates simply to the height of the horse and will not be sufficiently bespoke to the size and shape of an individual horse’s feet.
The size of the boot is as relevant as the design so look carefully at your horse’s hooves in terms of their size and shape. There is no substitute for actually taking an existing overreach boot into the saddlery and comparing it with new stock to get the right fit.
How do you fit overreach boots?
Overreach boots should be a snug fit; a boot that moves too much will actually rub around the pastern area and could create sores. The boot should cover the bulbs of the heel but should crucially also have 1cm of clearance when the horse is in halt on a hard, flat surface.
If you watch the horse walk, you can see that at a point within the step, the overreach boot will momentarily lower protecting the bulbs of the heel without reaching the ground. If the boot sits too low then the horse could tread on it when he moves and this creates the potential for stumbling or tripping and a far worse injury than an overreach.
Boots which are too large will almost certainly rub. The straps of the boot should be done up sufficiently so that you can only just fit your index finger between the collar of the boot and the horse’s pastern. Boots which are too big will never fit properly even when tightly secured. If the boot has an anti-spin device, then this should be located snugly between the bulbs of the heel.
Are overreach boots allowed in dressage?
No leg protection is allowed in either affiliated or unaffiliated dressage competitions. However, boots and bandages including overreach boots may be worn in the warm-up area. If they remain on the horse whilst in the dressage arena this unfortunately usually means elimination so don’t forget to take them all off!
How to stop overreach boots from rubbing?
If the overreach boots on your horse are rubbing, then you should first check the sizing; if they are too large, then they will invariably rub around the pastern area. If the boots are the correct size, consider investing in a pair with a sheepskin collar at the top which protects the area of contact with the horse’s skin.
Our Top Pick for the Best Horse Overreach Boots
Our top pick overreach boot is the Woof Wear Pro Faux Sheepskin overreach boot. Woof Wear have really prioritised design to create a truly functional and practical boot but without any compromise on style. Comfort has been carefully considered to avoid rubbing with recessed stitching and a soft faux sheepskin collar yet this boot couldn’t be tougher on the outside with a carbon effect outer shell. This is a great value buy from this trusted name in the equestrian field, a boot for all seasons and all occasions and definitely smart enough for competition.
A pair of overreach boots is an essential item in your tack room. Even if your horse doesn’t wear them now there may be future occasions when you need to grab a pair so pop some in your tack box ready for when you need them.