Performance-enhancing (PE) boots are widely used by eventing and show jumping riders around the world. A form of training aid, they can – when used correctly – improve the technique, carefulness and strength of jumping horses. There are two main categories of PE boots: weighted boots and pressure boots.
Weighted show jumping boots are ideal for horses that aren’t careful when jumping. Used mainly on the hind limbs, they are slightly heavier than normal jumping boots, causing the horse to work harder to clear the fence and helping to control the hind limbs. This results in a higher and cleaner jump, as well as improved jump stride. These boots should only be used in training situations or in warm-ups prior to competing.
Pressure boots are similarly designed to improve horse carefulness and technique, encouraging the horse to ‘kick out’ more when jumping. A variety of different pressure boots are available on the market today, all designed for slightly different purposes.‘Flicker’ boots, for example, are a popular choice for riders wanting their horse to ‘flick behind’ with their back legs over the jump. ‘Pinch’ boots, on the other hand, encourage the horse to pick their hind legs up higher (and don’t worry, they don’t actually ‘pinch’ your horse!).
The slight restriction provided by these boots often causes horses to finish their jump better as they become more aware of their back legs. This can also make them more aware of their front legs, and thus also improve their technique in front.
When used correctly and in the right situations, PE boots can form a valuable part of the competitive riders toolkit. They should be used by experienced and knowledgeable riders only, and with consultation of your local and national rules.