The 5 Best Ice Boots for Horses
It is no secret that horse owners in general take better care of their horses than they do of themselves. Furthermore, it’s no question for equestrians that their horses are athletes, who deserve the maximum care to ensure their horse’s peak athletic performance. Sports medicine and the science behind it are constantly evolving, and many creative types have applied best practices for human athletes to equine athletes as well.
What Are Ice Boots?
Ice boots are an innovation in cooling therapy for horses. Coolness causes blood vessels to constrict and suppresses the inflammatory response. Traditionally, swelling and other injuries with the legs have been solved by either cold-hosing or an ice bucket. Neither of these methods are time effective, and they could be complicated for horses who refused to stand still, were antsy around hoses, or in the wintertime. Ice boots are a solution to these problems. They have two primary uses: therapeutic and regenerative. The therapeutic purpose is intended for managing such diseases as arthritis, degenerative joint disease, tendonitis, as well as recovery from injuries and surgeries. The regenerative use is intended for sporthorses post exercise or training to help the tissues of the legs to recover faster.
There are a variety of different ice boots, some of them budget-friendly, and some of them splurge-worthy. Some of them are hollow bags that are filled with ice. Some of them are filled with gel which is placed in the freezer and then wrapped around the horse’s legs. And some of them include pulsing therapy to massage the horse’s legs as cooling is applied to the soft tissues. There is still further variety in designs for the part of the leg where the boot is adjusted. Some sit just on the lower legs, some sit directly on the hock or knee, and still others are tall enough to cover the whole leg.
What Are My Options If I Want to Invest in Ice Boots?
Some ice boots have pockets that are filled with ice cubes, some have gel inserts that are frozen, and some have external hardware or parts that help them perform their function. The decision about which ice boots to purchase is first based on what means you have for storing the boots (do you have a freezer at the barn, or can you carry the ice packs in a cooler?) and how complex your horse’s athletic or therapeutic needs are. Here are some of the highest ranked and most useful ice boot models available:
The top of the line ice boots on the market at the moment are the Horseware Ice-Vibe Boots for which you can also order replacement cold packs. These boots come in the form of tendon boots or hock boots. Elasticized linings ensure that the cold packs stay in place. A neoprene exterior on the boots makes for easy cleaning as well as repelling stall bedding.
One set comes with two boots, two cold packs, a charger and two panels. The boots are capable of not only cooling, but also provide massage through light vibration. This increases circulation and stimulates the lymphatic system to increase healing. Many top international competitors in various equestrian disciplines use Ice-Vibe boots regularly on their horses. These are truly the Rolls Royce of ice boots in the equestrian industry at the moment.
These boots need to be stored in the freezer before use, then they are placed on the horse’s lower legs like shipping boots. Velcro strips hold them in place for as long as the leg needs to be iced. All you need to do is take the boot out of the freezer, apply it to the leg while your horse is in a stall or pen, and go about the other work you need to do. Tough-1 also makes ice boots in this design, as well as boots specifically designed for the knee and hock.
Usable for heat or cold therapy, these boots feature small cushions that are blown up with a hand pump in order to put pressure on inflamed tissue. This increases the therapeutic effects of the cooling.
These are attached like overalls on the horse’s legs, fastened around the ankles, and then attached to each other across and over the horse’s withers by a set of suspenders. The pockets are then filled with ice and adjusted to lay against the horse’s leg.
There is still another option, in case a lower-leg or upper-leg injury occurs while you are waiting for your ice boots to arrive. You will need a tube sock, plastic cling-wrap, a package of Flavor-Ice popsicle sticks, and polo wraps. First cut a hole in the toe of the tube sock and slide it over the leg. Next wrap the leg in plastic wrap, over the sock. Then place the Flavor-Ice popsicles around the leg, making sure they lay flat against the skin. Wrap the polo wrap tightly around the popsicles to hold them in place, wrapping it so that the bandage covers the popsicles completely and holds them in place over the injured or sore leg.
Whether your horse is nursing an injury, or whether you want to maintain the health of his legs for years to come, ice boots can be a time-efficient way to support your horse’s hard-working legs. Regarding the design, it depends on what your budget is, and what sort of facilities you have for holding your horse while he has the boots on his legs. It is not necessary to break the bank in order to maximize the wellbeing of your horse.