How to train your horse to love his ice therapy!
It’s true that most horses are absolutely fine with ice therapy! After all, we have trained them to get into trailers, jump over things with us on their backs, do fancy things with their feet in front of judges, and wear all sorts of things like saddles and blankets. So if you have a horse that seems to object to his ice therapy, here are some tips to make things more positive for everyone.
Don’t start with buckets. Horses know that buckets are supposed to contain FOOD - not ice! Skip the buckets and go for something that doesn’t require you need an ice machine, a hose, a bucket, and enough patience to keep refilling it after every spill/
Baby steps. Teach your horse that only positive rewards happen when he wears boots or polo wraps. Lots of praise after you put them on. You will find that after a while, this is part of his life and he’s ok with it. Then use this to transfer to ice wraps after his exercise. At first, use the wraps empty. Then lots of praise, some more praise, and then even more. Do this for days or weeks until he is totally chill in his wraps.
The baby steps continue. Then add in some ice packs - but the defrosted kind. Again, so much praise. Do this for days or weeks.
Then baby steps continue some more. Then add the FirstIce packs to the wraps - nice and cold! Don’t stop with the praise.
Some other ideas to help your horse LOVE his icing time.
- Let him eat! A strategically hung hay net in the cross ties is a fantastic way for him to pass the time.
- Let all of his favorite massage spots be worked on. Nothing like helping your horse feel better with a nice massaging and groom after a workout. Just add in the ice wraps and it’s a two for one horse special.
- Make sure he is not super distracted by lunch time happening without him, the horse eating tractor loading hay outside the barn, the invisible horse eating monster in the corner.
- Braid his mane. Many horses love to be braided, and it can put them into a sort of trance. Bonus that you get to practice braiding.
- Any other activity that your horse loves! Combine that with his ice time and you have a happy and healthy partner!