Summer is here, which means routine hacks and jump schools are sweatier than ever for both horse and rider.
When it comes to protective leg wear, sweat can cause some minor mishaps like sliding or unraveling in boots or even polo wraps. More sweat and “scurf” build up could cause fungus to grow on the legs during the hotter and more humid season, too. And sweaty boots could cause visible, sensitive rub spots. So which is the better option for summer rides: boots or polos?
We reached out to the professionals to weigh the pros and cons.
Courtney Carson, a professional groom for four-star eventers Doug and Jessica Payne in Aiken, S.C., says there’s an argument to make for both.
“We use both throughout the summer,” she said. “When at home schooling, we tend to use more boots than polos for the sake of time racking up and cleaning up at the end of the day. But I do have a few horses who wear polos every day unless jumping.”
At horse shows, the horses in the Payne fleet will school in polo wraps as long as the grounds aren’t wet, she added.
“They’ll go in polos all the way around at events or polos up front and plain ankle boots behind at jumper shows,” Courtney explained.
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American show jumper Alex Welles, who is married to and runs a business with professional show jumper Andrew Welles in Wellington, Fla., tends to ride in polos more on her older jumper who had some soft tissue injuries for added protection.
“Our youngsters and most of our other jumpers compete in open fronts,” Alex said. “It really is horse dependent for us.”
But at the end of the day, it’s all about finding something breathable, Courtney stressed.
“And boot fit is very important. With sweat during the summer, an improper fitting boot will cause rubs in one ride, and then they continue to rub every time you put boots on,” she said. In this situation, Courtney would switch that horse to polo wraps exclusively to avoid further rubs and sensitive bald spots.
Her biggest caution against polo wraps is of course to make sure they are wrapped correctly.
“And do not wear them through water,” Courtney said. “If the footing is a bit wet, that is usually OK, just make sure to not go for an hour-long trail ride following working. Wet polos equals heavy polos, and they will sag. Just be aware of shifting during your ride.”