How to Choose Bell Boots for Horses

Horses are useful to humans in many ways, whether it’s for travel, farming, sports, and transport. It’s no wonder they are referred to as “beasts of burden” along with donkeys and mules.  

Horses walk a lot on different surfaces, whether it’s sand, granite, mud, or concrete. Sometimes, walking on these terrains can be difficult, and they can get hurt by foreign objects if there’s nothing to protect their hooves. 

Bell boots are some of the best inventions so far to protect a horse’s hooves. In this article, we will look at how to choose the best bell boots for your horse to ensure their safety. 

How to Choose Bell Boots for Horses

Why do horses wear bell boots?

Horses wear bell boots to protect their hooves and other parts of the lower limbs, such as the ankles. The boots are usually quite high and encircle around the ankles

For horses that wear horseshoes, bell boots also protect the horseshoe so they don’t wear out easily. The feet are kept from each other – overreaching. 

The brushing of the horse’s feet against each other is known as overreaching.

Overreaching typically occurs in horses when their hind feet make contact with the heels of their forelimb. This often results in injury. If you have a horse that repeatedly overreaches, it might be a good idea to have it checked by the vet. 

Bell boots may also help to prevent overreaching, so they are often regarded as overreach boots. 

Are bell boots good for horses?

When horses wear bell boots, it makes it easier and safer for them to move over rough surfaces. It also protects their hooves and lower limbs. So, YES, bell boots are good for horses. 

The main goal of using bell boots for horses is to ensure they don’t sustain injuries while walking. 

Injuries are typically caused by rough terrains or from overreaching. For horses that wear horseshoes, injuries can arise from the accidental removal of the horseshoes.

What horses need bell boots?

Bell boots are generally required by horses that are prone to injury either from overreaching or other sources.

Horses that are used for vigorous activities like races, farming, and travel tend to have a lot of injury problems as a result of their constant movement. Such horses need bell boots.

Horses that wear horseshoes also need bell boots to protect their hooves from injuries that could arise from their movements and from the horseshoes.

To be able to properly know if your horse needs bell boots.  It is very useful to see a veterinarian to assess the strength of your horse’s hooves.

How to choose bell boots for horses 

There are many things to consider when looking to choose bell boots for your horse. Let’s look at the more important ones: 


Bell boots are made from different materials ranging from rubber to other synthetic materials. Each material has a different degree of strength and durability. Carbon fiber, ballistic nylon, and rubber are common options. Rubber is usually the cheapest, while ballistic nylon is one of the best. 

Size and fitting

The size of the horse’s hooves is another thing to take into consideration when choosing bell boots.  Tight boots can affect the horse’s movement. Likewise, big boots also affect movement and make the horse uncomfortable.

Means of Closure 

The means of closure will determine how easy it is to put on the boots and take them off.

Our Recommend Best Bell Boot for Horses

So, what are the best boots for horses? Here are the three main options we like: 

  • Cashel Rubber Bell Boots: These bell boots are made of breathable rubber material. They are waterproof and do not succumb to rust. They are quite elastic, which allows them to be comfortable even as the horse grows with it. 
  • Gallopoff Equine Ballistic Overreach Bell Boots: This is another comfortable option that offers protection for the hooves and ankles. It also protects from overreaching, so it can also serve as overreach boots. It’s available in different colors, which is great for those who care about style. 
  • Professional’s Choice Ballistic Overreach Bell Boots: These boots are more targeted towards professional riders. Like the other options, they are durable, comfortable, and protect the horse hooves.  

What size bell boots for my horse?

Bell boots come in different sizes. These include small, medium, and large sizes.

When sizing bell boots for your horses, you should make sure the bottom back rim of the boot does not touch the ground when the horse is on a level surface.

To be certain what bell boot size you should use, you’ll need to measure the edge of the horse’s hooves.

The shape of the hooves also needs to be taken into consideration. Ideally, your chosen boots should not be too loose or too big.

It is also possible to get custom bell boots specifically designed for your horse.

How do wild horses survive without horse shoes?

Horses in the wild move without horseshoes or bell boots. Their hooves have had to adapt to walking on rough terrains without getting damaged. Some of the reasons why they are able to live this way include: 

  • Due to increased activity, their hooves have become naturally resistant to wear and tear.
  • Good nutrition also contributes to the health and strength of the hooves. There are more natural food sources in the wild, which means they can get all the nutrients they need to grow strong, healthy hooves. 
  • Growth on hooves usually causes imbalance and, sometimes, injury.

Wild horses wear the surfaces of their hooves due to constant movement. This prevents excess growth and imbalance.

Overreach boots vs bell boots

Although the terms “bell boots” and “overreach boots” are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same thing.  

Overreach boots protect the horse’s heels and the lower back of the pastern from injuries from overreaching. They cover a small area of a horse’s leg and have a more contoured shape.

Bell boots, however, protect a wider area. They protect the hooves and the same places as the overreach boots. They also protect from overreaching and prevent injuries caused by the pulling of the horseshoe and when they wear out. 

FAQs: bell boots for horses

When should you use bell boots?

You should use bell boots if your horse is used for a lot of activities or travels on different surfaces. It’s also a good idea to use them if the horse has horseshoes. 

Do all horses need boots?

Not all horses need bell boots. Factors such as a tendency to overreach, physical activities, health, and condition of the horse hooves will determine whether it needs bell boots or not. In general, horses that don’t sustain a lot of injuries and partake in rigorous activities can do without bell boots. 

Can you leave bell boots on all the time?

It is not advisable to leave bell boots on all the time as this might cause the boots to wear out sooner. Also, the boots can cause rubbing injuries on the hooves and ankles. It’s best only to wear the boots when needed. 

Why do race horses not wear boots?

Using bell boots for racehorses could add to their weight, which could affect their speed and performance. There are other types of boots for racehorses.

Can horses live without shoes?

Horses can live without wearing shoes. If the hooves of a horse are healthy and strong, they will not need extra protection. Also, if they don’t engage in too many activities or move on rough surfaces, they may not need shoes too. 


In conclusion, bell boots (or overreaching boots) are a sure way to protect your horse’s hooves. They are particularly important for horses that are frequently in use, whether it’s walking, jumping, or sports. 

Horses that wear horseshoes also need bell boots.

Getting good bell boots depends on several factors, such as size, material, and safety closure. In the end, you want to choose a boot that will perfectly fit your horse and ensure it remains in good condition. 

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