Lawn Boots

This blog entry is about lawn boots. Partly because they are interesting but largely because they contain no letter “D”.

kitten damage to laptop

Note the missing key

This isn’t an intellectual exercise, I’m no Georges Perec (he wrote “La Disparation”, a novel without the letter “e”) – an entire work omitting a given letter is beyond me (note the “d” in beyond). It is simply that one of my kittens removed the relevant key from my laptop & it now requires a special poking action to use it.

Back to lawn boots… these are leather boots that would be strapped onto a pony’s (or horse’s, or donkey’s) hooves.

Lawn boots for a pony

Why were they used? Well, if you have ever stamped down divots on a polo field (or accidentally let a horse stray onto a golf course – which has never happened to me, really…), you will know what hooves can do to a lawn.
Before motorised vehicles were common, horse (or pony, or donkey) drawn lawnmowers and grass rollers were used on any large expanses of grass. Obviously, there’s no point in carefully mowing and rolling a lawn if at the same time it is being churned up by hooves.

Lawn boots for a pony

They are made of thick leather and have a strap that would fasten around the pastern, and a lower strap that fastened behind the heel. The soles are generally leather, they are sometimes sewn on & sometimes riveted. The soles often have small studs – wet grass can be pretty slippery. I have seen a set with large studs on the sole, I was told that they were “ice shoes”, but I am not sure how accurate that description was.

Lawn boots for a pony

Most that turn up are probably Victorian. They do show up in old gardener’s catalogues (Ruth Brennan uses the title “Lawn Boots for Donkeys” in her 1991 paper on nurserymen’s catalogues. Ultimately I think they are a fascinating bit of equestrian history & an ingenious piece of problem solving.

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6 Responses to Lawn Boots

  1. girasol says:

    You have the world’s most fascinating collection and blog! Wow! Lawn boots? Who knew? Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sue says:

    Funny story on the missing “D”. Aren’t cats great?!
    I found the details on the boots interesting…apparently the concept works since besides material, it hasn’t changed much over the years. Love your blog. I’m always looking for either antique equestrian jewelry or antique equestrian related tools/tack. Thanks for posting.

  3. Arima says:

    I have not seen these before – what a concept! I wonder how effective they were and how the horse felt walking in them. Horses are so splendid, they put up with so much from humans over the centuries. I guess they would have thought it just one more thing to get used to.

    I can’t imagine that a leather boot even with some rivets on the bottom would not have been slippery on wet or snowy paths.

    You’ve given me an interesting piece of equestrian history to research :-)

    Arima ~ Spirited Horse Collectables

  4. Very interesting article, as mentioned in one of the other comments it is another area to research

  5. fran says:

    Thank you so much for your post! I am linking to it from a story that I’m writing for my blog about Nike’s new commercial, which has a horse galloping across a golf course. (I guess it is meant to sell golf balls.)

    I have only seen engravings of lawn boots in old landscaping books and journals; I had never actually seen one, and in such great condition! I am amazed.

    You made my day. I should have a post on The Hoof Blog later today, and it will be much more interesting now, thanks to you!

  6. Charlotte says:

    Excellent job on not using “d”.
    Interesting lil’ blurb about lawn boots. Who knew! :)