If we want longevity out of our horses, then we need to look after their joints and tendons. It is especially important for my two being heavier built breeds!
I have always used ice boots after a jump and even through summer post ride when its warm. We only get one set of legs on a horse so I do everything I can.
As a therapist my horses are extremely lucky to have almost every tool at their disposal, red light, laser and even an equissage. Despite all this, my favorite most valued purchase has been my Finntack cold boots from Zebrula Equestrian. I invested 109$ for a pair, and so far having used them 3-5 times a week post ride for the year it has cost me less than 50 cents a week.
I am also LOVING the ice vibes and have invested in a set for the new season, more for pre-ride warm up without the ice packs. I have recently had some feet issues to sort with my young horse Rummi and the vibes on the hinds pre-ride have improved her willingness to move forward with softer transitions.
If you don’t have ice boots or vibes yet – I want to explain why you really need to save up for a set.
Human or horse, when we use our bodies, inflammation is the natural response to aid in repair and recovery. White blood cells are distributed to the area of our body damaged to increase blood flow and along with this nutrients for repair. When we go to the gym and lift weights, we push and overuse our muscles to tear the fibers and then have our amazing body re-build larger and stronger. We do the same with our horses every time we ride, even more so when we ask for smaller canter circles, new laterals, jumping or even to chase after a cow quickly!
Any sort of movement results in the capillaries that supply blood to the muscles, tendons and ligaments to expand and transport the extra blood needed for the activity. Very simply the more we move, the more blood we need to carry oxygen and glycogen (food) to sustain the movement.
But, here is where we need to be careful because horses don’t have fantastic circulation of their lower limbs. Once we stop riding, the excess fluid flow can persist for hours after even when it is no longer required. Although the extra blood flow contains essential nutrients and enzymes for healing, there is a fine line between benefit and the damage, stiffness and impact of the bone and joints caused by the heat and potential pooling of excess fluid for those few hours post ride.
We all know warm up is imperative, and using vibes before a ride will increases blood flow. This will facilitate circulation and the range of motion in joints. Guess what? You can have 50$ off a set using the code VIBEJ50 HERE
Ice boots after a ride are effective at removing heat after exercise, Matthew A. Burd, DVM, MS, from California Polytechnic State University reported on a small study of six sporthorses, looking at the effect of ice on the temperature of their limbs post exercise. Thermal images were taken pre, during and post cool/ice boots to evaluate the impact on the temperature of the horses limbs. The research found that the legs wearing ice boots were more than 43 degrees cooler than the non-iced legs immediately following a 20 minute ice treatment period. The effect lasted on average 14 minutes after removal of the cool/ice boots before returning to the temperature of the control leg.
Ice is an analgesic and reduces the sensation of pain, but most importantly it encourages vasoconstriction and reduces blood flow. The sooner we can get our horses leg temperatures back to their baseline circulation the better for their long term soundness. Lets face it, horses weren’t designed to be ridden!
We talk about the horses back not being designed to carry weight and riders and spend hundreds on gel pads and numnahs, but we sometimes forget their legs aren’t designed for the level of activity we require from most disciplines either.
If you can afford the vibes you can use these pre-ride and then post ride with the ice packs. However if you are more budget conscious I love my Fintac ones from Zebrula as they are designed for the fridge which is awesome because they still stay cool enough without being frozen like some. I can take them with me in a cooler bag to a lesson like I would packed lunch, and always live at the bottom of my esky for the weekend eventing and only 109$!
If you want a softer set that has shape around the pastern then check out these Wheatherbeeta ones from Horseland here. They are great, middle of the range boots and I like that they hug the pastern bone.
I also love a good poultice or liniment that has cooling ingredients, this will help draw out excess heat and reduce any residual inflammation preventing fluid or swelling. I have a few staple products I keep in my float and use these along with my ice especially after a big jump lesson or even a ride on a hot day.
We put years of effort into our horses from training to building a strong trusting relationship with them. Spend the extra 20 minutes pre/post ride to care for them – Some might think it’s overkill, for me its peace of mind.
The average adult spends 38 minutes on social media a day reading blogs like this, so do that while your horse has a feed and ice after a ride! We won’t always have time, but if when we do, we go the extra mile – our horses will last and love us for longer.
Use the code ‘Jemma15’ for 15% off when you check out these awesome Fintac cooling boots here! If you want to add the pre-ride circulation get your discounted vibes from Equestricare here with code VIBEJ50
Jem and Den and Rum