Ice Horse Hock Wraps Your horse’s legs are a vital part of his health, and it can take only a few minutes a day to make sure everything is normal and good. If you find something during a leg inspection, it’s often in the very early stages and you can nip whatever it is in the bud. Leg inspections are best done first thing in the morning during chores. As you toss hay, fill feed and water buckets – add in a visual exam of the legs. For horses that tend to stock up at night, remove the standing wraps (if you use them) at this point and see how the legs look. If all looks well on the visual exam, don’t skip feeling the legs. A great time to touch and feel the legs is while you are picking out hooves. In the cross ties, you can go over the legs once again more thoroughly in proper light. Inspect your horse’s legs from the elbow and stifle down, as you can find shoe boils in the elbows that way. This also gives you a chance to make sure the shoes are where they are supposed to be. If your horse is barefoot, it gives you a chance to check for chips or snags along the hoof. This is also your chance to make sure there is no discernible heat in the hoof. Heat in the hoof could be nothing, or it could be an abscess or life threatening laminitis. Finding these things early lets you intervene early and increases the chance of a positive outcome. As part of your leg care routine, Easy-to-use Ice Horse® Hock Wraps provide uniform compression and coverage to reduce inflammation and heat in the front and back of the hock. The wrap is open over the cap bone, shaped, and sized to give full consistent compression and coverage. Ice Horse Wraps help reduce heat and inflammation after work or injury. How do Ice Horse Hock Wraps work? Ice packs mold to the horses legs for maximum coverage and stay cold for over two hours. Ice packs are reusable. When you are done, simply place your packs back in the freezer. Within hours they are ready to use again. Ice Horse® Hock Wraps are made with Quadrispan™ anti migration fabric. Our unique breathable fabric keeps the wraps in place on the horses leg and the ice compressed against the area being treated. Specially placed Velcro closures allow for a secure tight fit every time. Removal is easy – no yanking or jerking on the tabs to undo. Check out Ice Horse Hock Wraps and many other great products, including the Back Blanket and the Big Black Boot at www.icehorse.net. Remember these products come in pony sizes too!
Which Ice Horse does my horse need? There are a few ways to figure this out…his job, his past history of injury, his need for veterinary “maintenance,” his quirks. You may want to ask your Veterinarian to help you decide how best to support your horse with therapeutic icing and which parts of your horse’s body need some support. What is your horse’s job? The trail horse, who puts lots of stress on the hooves with uneven ground and stones, also consider the western reining horse that slides and spins, stressing the hind legs, and the hunter or jumper that spends a lot of time jumping and landing. There’s also the barrel racer that is going to stress all four lower legs, which has different support needs of the dressage horse that uses his back and hocks for work. Consider the eventing horse that runs fast and jumps high, and enjoys cold therapy leg care after a cross country gallop. Learning about the biomechanics of your particular horse and his job can help you decide where he can benefit from therapeutic icing! What is your horse’s past medical history? Many horses, because they are horses, end up with injuries at one point or another. These can be random run of the mill injuries, or injuries sustained during work. The OTTB that bowed a tendon on the race track will need therapeutic icing on those tendons, no matter his new job. The horse with a previous stifle injury from slipping in the paddock can benefit from ice therapy on those stifles. Don’t forget to also factor the parts of your horse’s medical history that don’t include injuries. Metabolic disorders such as Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance can affect the health of the hoof, which makes icing those tootsies a great idea. Your entire horse's body weight rests on one or two legs at many points in his job! What’s his need for Veterinary “maintenance”? Many horses receive other types of therapies on specific body parts, such as necks, hocks, hips, and even coffin joints. If you are spending a lot of time on massage, intra-articlular injections, chiropractics and the like, using therapeutic icing in between treatments may help your horse partner feel his best. Don’t forget to consider his quirks! For the stall kickers out there, fetlocks and knees can often become inflamed from the banging. Does he LOVE to run full blast and slide into the fence stressing the lower legs? Does he have some unique conformation issues? All of these things factor into what parts of your horse will benefit from ice therapy.
How to put together a Vet Kit for your horse! It's a great idea to rummage through your vet kit a few times a year to check for expired things, and maybe things that should be expired (anything that separates into layers is a good candidate for disposal, even before an expiration date.) Also be aware of temperatures - many items need refrigeration and/or can't take extreme cold or warm. No use in having meds if they are cooked or frozen! You never know what your horse will need. Recommended Equine First Aid Kit Contents Essential Items: Thermometer - you must know your horse's normal temperature, pulse, and respirations. Stethoscope - to listen to gut sounds and take a heart rate. Betadine solution and scrub - for wound cleaning. Saline - for wound flushing Big syringes (60 cc) - great to use for squirting wound cleaner into hard to reach places, also great to use to dose oral medications. Gauze pads/gauze roll - for wound bandaging. Non stick wound pad - to place just next to the wound, feminine pads work well also. Sheet cotton - for wrapping legs and packing hooves. Standing wraps and quilts - for support, prevention of stocking up, and keeping wounds clean. Elastic wound tape - such as Vet wrap or Elasticon for dozens of reasons! Waterproof tape - heavy duty tape great for securing small bandages. Bandage scissors - for scissoring. Safer than pointy scissors. Hoof Pick - because. Show Touch Up Spray - to mark emergency instructions on your horse. Pen/Pencils with note pad - to write down special instructions. Flashlight with batteries - because things usually happen at night. Extra Supplies Clippers - some wounds need hair free areas for medication application. Disposable gloves - it's always messy. Horse shoe pulling tools- just in case. Diapers (~size 5) - great for wounds, packing hooves. Ice pack and heat packs- to reduce swelling. No freezer is complete without ice packs. This wrap can be used to hold ice (or hot) packs in weird locations of your horse. Great for those times you are scratching your head about how on earth he managed to do THAT! Poultice - for hooves and for tendons. Needles and Syringes (aka "sharps") - to administer medications. Cotton balls - for small wound cleaning. Hoof Wraps Brand Soaker - for soaking hooves without the mess. Large enough to fit your horse's hoof, some water, and whatever else he needs to marinate in. Luggage tag - for emergency instructions, you can tie it into the mane. Electrolytes - I like the paste version in a pinch, it may not be safe for your horse to eat a meal with added electrolytes, the paste can be given at any time. Twitch - You can make one from bailing twine and a double ended snap. Make a loop of twine at one end of the snap, use that to twist your horse's nose. Clip the other end to his halter. Fly mask - for eye injuries, you want a clean mask to cover the injury. Bucket - for mixing wound cleaning solutions, you want a bucket without shampoo residue, horse food bit, and general barn dirt. Spider bandage- for strangely located wounds. Your favorite all purpose cream or ointment - like a diaper rash cream. Hoof Wraps boot - after a sprung shoe or hoof damage, this will protect his hoof and allow for easier movement. That should get you started!
Does your horse need heat or ice? Determining which therapeutic aid to use for your horse, be it ice or heat, largely depends on what type of condition you are treating as well as your Veterinarian’s input. Typically speaking, ice or another cooling technique is used for acute injuries and post exercise care and support. Acute injuries occur suddenly. A good example of this is the horse that is doing his best rodeo impression during turnout and becomes one with a fence. When you take him to the barn, he has a swollen lower leg and a hitch in his giddy-up. The Ice Horse Emergency Wrap works with First Ice or Deep Heat packs! You may also want to cool your horse's legs after he exercises. This takes the heat out of your horse's soft tissues, tendons, and ligaments to help prevent long term damage, reduce post exercise soreness, and remove any pain from arthritic joints. Typically speaking, heat can sometimes benefit chronic injuries. Chronic injuries or conditions develop over time. A good example of a chronic condition is arthritis of the hocks or the horse with a sore back. Heat can often help your horse's joints and back loosen up for riding. This is especially helpful if your horse likes to be stiff and uncomfortable as your ride begins. And here’s where is gets confusing and why you need to involve your Veterinarian. Horses are masters of getting by until it really stinking hurts. If a horse has a sore left hock, he may appear and feel sound for months, until possibly his right front tendons are a bit sore from compensating and then he becomes “off”. You may think, oh, he has an acute tendon injury, or you may find the hock soreness first. It’s difficult to determine the egg vs. chicken in this scenario, therefore it’s hard to determine a chronic vs. acute situation. You and your Veterinarian together can figure it out, and with that information, proceed forward with an icing or heating plan. It’s not uncommon to treat some injuries with both cooling and heating. You may find that you initially treat an acute injury with cooling methods (usually the case), and after the initial inflammation goes away, your Veterinarian suggests a heating treatment. You may also find that your Veterinarian suggests icing immediately after exercise, and treating with heat later in the day. This may be the case for arthritis. It’s important to remember that when icing and heating, more is not always better. Using ice for more than 20 or 30 minutes can actually increase inflammation, and using a heating treatment like DMSO in the initial stages of swelling can add even more swelling to the injury. You may find that your horse needs short treatments several times a day, which are easy to do around your barn chores.
How to inspect your horse's legs! Your horse’s legs are a vital part of his health, and it can take only a few minutes a day to make sure everything is normal and good. If you find something during a leg inspection, it’s often in the very early stages and you can nip it in the bud. All you need is your hands, eyes, and a few minutes. Leg inspections are best done first thing in the morning during the first chores. As you toss hay, feed buckets, fill water buckets, you can do a visual exam of the legs. For horses that tend to stock up at night, remove the standing wraps (if you use them) at this point and see how the legs look. Use both hands and your eyes...and sometimes even your nose. If all looks well on the visual exam, don’t skip feeling the legs. A great time to touch and feel the legs is when you are first picking out hooves. This gives you a chance to make sure the shoes are where they are supposed to be. If your horse is barefoot, it gives you a chance to check for chips or snags along the hoof edge. This also your chance to make sure there is no discernible heat in the hoof. Heat in the hoof could be nothing, or it could be an abscess, or it could be life threatening laminitis. Finding these things early lets you intervene early and increases the chance of a positive outcome. Picking the hooves also gives you the chance to do a quick run down of the legs and tendons. In the cross ties, you can go over the legs once again more thoroughly in proper light. Inspect your horse’ss legs from the elbow and stifle down, as you can find shoe boils in the elbows that way. Use both hands on each leg and look for the following: Heat Swelling Possible windpuffs or a change in existing windpuffs Cuts and scrapes Bugs (like ticks) Warm or hot hooves (a sign of laminitis) Don't skip the hooves - look for heat, swelling, tweaked shoes, stones, etc. Areas of tenderness Dry/flaky skin Anything new Scratches or pastern dermatitis Splints For the most part, the everyday stuff like scrapes or bugs can be taken care of easily. You will need to decide if swelling, heat, or tenderness warrants a call to your Veterinarian. These are often signs of soft tissue injuries, which can be as simple as a tiny cut that gets swollen or a major tendon tear.
The Power of Ponies! Ponies are a few things - adorably cute, feisty, and quite often a bit devilish. While ponies may be smaller, they are still as mighty as their larger horse counterparts. Ponies are also a bit trickier to care for simply due to their size. It’s not just bending over to pick out those feet - ponies are often a challenge to care for in other areas. Tack fit is often a challenge for ponies and their riders, as you need to find saddles appropriate for the pony rider. These saddles must also fit the pony - which is often hard to do as the pony rider becomes taller and taller! When you are fitting a saddle to a pony, pay special attention to how far back the saddle sits, making sure it’s still comfortable. Croupers are common on ponies to help the back of the saddle remain properly placed. There are also some rein attachments that can be used to prevent your pony from eating while he is being ridden, thus allowing the young rider to have a more enjoyable time! Their small stature means a few things in terms of how hard ponies work. Pound for pound, ponies can carry and move with more weight than horses. That’s added stress on their legs and backs! Ponies also tend to have more skeletal problems than horses, so daily attention and care for the legs is critical. When it comes to their feet, they are typically a bit tougher than the horse hoof, but remember that they carry a larger percentage of their weight with a rider than a horse, so that’s more for the hoof to support. Ponies are also famous for becoming overweight! While this makes them adorable, the health consequences are real. Metabolic disorders, such as Cushing’s disease, are common and can contribute to laminitis. Ponies can also develop liver problems and have increased blood levels of fats. Overweight ponies also put more pressure and strain on their legs and joints. When you are caring for a pony, you will need to step up the care and management routine in a few areas. Monitor weight, use grazing muzzles, and have regular blood tests to stay ahead of metabolic disorders. Support your pony’s body with properly fitted tack, and use therapeutic measures like ice boots to pamper his legs. Regular grooming, Veterinary care, and a well balanced diet will help your pony thrive!
One of the most heartbreaking diseases that can happen to a horse is laminitis. Laminitis is the inflammation of the laminae, which is the "velcro" that surrounds the hoof’s coffin bone and glues it to the hoof wall. Laminitis is most common in both front feet, and can happen in the hind feet as well. Founder is when the “velcro” has failed and the bones of the hoof are displaced, either by sinking, rotating, or sinking medially. It’s important to stress that if you even think your horse is developing laminitis or another hoof condition get your horse’s feet into ice and call your Veterinarian right away. It’s recommended by the Veterinary community that any horse showing signs of laminitis remain in ice therapy for 24-48 hours straight, or longer, depending on the case. Cold therapy on the hooves and lower legs not only reduces inflammation and pain, it prevents more triggering chemicals in your horse’s body from reaching the hooves causing more damage. Of course this is only helpful if you know what to look for! Some common signs of laminitis are: Your horse is tender or sore after being shod. Walking is uncomfortable, he may hesitate, he may act like he’s on eggshells. He may not want to turn in his stall, he may pirouette/pivot and put all his weight on the hind end. He may also take tiny baby steps with the front hooves to turn. Mild colic. Postural changes. Is he standing differently? Some horses look as if their front feet are splayed out in front of them. Digital pulses that are strong and bounding. The digital pulse is found on the lower leg at the back of the fetlock, your Veterinarian can show you the exact location. It’s best to know your horse’s normal digital pulse, check it every day as you check legs and pick feet. It’s typical for a healthy hoof to have a barely perceptible digital pulse. The hooves are warm or hot. Again, check every day as you pick feet. You may even see the hair around the coronary band and pastern start to poke out and be fringy….if the hoof structures are sinking inside, the hairs will be rearranged on the outside. It’s often very helpful to know a little bit more about your horse's lifestyle and diet, as metabolic issues such as insulin resistance and Cushing’s disease are often factors in laminitis development. A simple blood test yearly (or twice yearly) will tell your Veterinarian about your horse's metabolic state. Other factors that influence the development of laminitis include: Your horse’s weight, obese horses are more likely to have laminitis. The footing your horse exercises on—hard and unforgiving surfaces take their toll on the hoof. Fevers – a virus or illness that includes a fever often can preclude laminitis. Exposure to toxins, such as black walnut. This is sometimes in sawdust shavings. Stress. Increased carbohydrate intake, such as the horse that escapes and eats all of the grain from the feed storage area. Spring grass is also high in sugars, as is fall grass that is environmentally stressed. Size and gender. Ponies are more likely to develop laminitis, as are geldings. Now—some of these signs are also signs of an abscess or other hoof ailment, which also can be really painful and should be treated right away. If you suspect abscess, work with your Veterinarian to make sure it is just an abscess. Some of us would rather save few bucks and have our Farrier come out to check for an abscess, which they are very often experienced in. However, your Veterinarian is also versed in this and can eliminate laminitis as a cause. Veterinarians can diagnose diseases and conditions, prescribe appropriate medications, and work into the soft tissue in the hoof. Farriers can't do these things, so don’t wait, don’t wait, don’t wait if you see any of those signs. Call the Veterinarian and start your horse on some cold therapy. Ice Horse Laminitis Kit If you do end up with a case of laminitis, you can use the Laminitis Kit to keep your horse's hooves cold—reducing inflammation and providing some pain relief. Buy the laminitis kit here!
Does your horse need ice therapy? Yes - much of the wear and tear damage occurs without you seeing or feeling it! When you dig into how ice therapies work, you see that there are many short and long term benefits to this easy and inexpensive way to pamper your horse. First a breakdown of how inflammation and cold therapies work. Injuries and routine exercise both create inflammation. Injured tissue, like a tendon or even a scrape, gets flooded with blood. Unfortunately, the injury has broken blood vessels, so they will leak into surrounding tissue. This creates painful inflammation and swelling. Ice therapies serve new injuries by constricting vessels and not allowing the leakage of fluids and blood into surrounding tissues. This prevents a large amount of fluid for your horse’s body to clean up and heal, thus healing times can be reduced. Similarly, when your horse is exercising, his legs and muscles generate heat. This is amplified under protective leg wraps and saddle pads. Capillaries are dilated (opened up) during exercise to provide blood and oxygen to these areas. After work, there can be a build up of extra fluid, which causes inflammation as well as muscle soreness. After exercise, ice therapies serve to reduce soreness and bring your horse’s athletic game back up to par. But what about older injuries and the aches and pains that go along with aging and being an athlete? Ice therapy can definitely help there, as well. Old injuries respond to ice as the constriction of blood vessels can have a pain relieving effect. Additionally, when the ice is removed, the area is flushed with a fresh supply of blood, which contains an army of injury repairing substances such as white blood cells and other "housecleaning" substances. While it may seem silly to perform ice therapies on a sound horse or a horse that has recovered from an injury, it’s actually the best thing you can do to support your horse’s health! Preventing soreness, aiding in recovery from exercise, and supporting the long term health of your horse’s legs mean a happy athlete. And you only need a few minutes a day!
No matter the discipline, English or Western, horses perform a variety of jobs that all put stress on their joints, their backs, and the soft tissues in their legs. Even the seemingly low impact trail horse or western pleasure horse needs supportive and therapeutic care during their athletic years. It’s not just the spinning reining horses and the lightening quick barrel horses that should be getting all of the attention! You have many options for supporting your western horse’s body and legs, including poultice, ice therapies, massages, liniments, and heat packs, to name a few. These therapies work to decrease inflammation in tendons, ligaments and joints, reduce pain, promote circulation, and generally just feel good. Trail horses that explore the great wide open are ridden on uneven, and often unforgiving, footing. Stone bruises, tweaked tendons and ligaments from holes, rocks, or slipping, and even arthritis in supporting joints like the hocks are all possible for the casual trail horse. Western pleasure horses are trained to perform slow movements, often resulting in back pain as well as joint conditions in the legs. When it comes to the speedier types of Western disciplines, the hind end bears the brunt of long term wear. The barrel horse must bolt across the arena, and then rebalance on the hind end to make the turns. The cutting horse lowers his body by bending his leg joints to be able to work the cow. The reining horse comes to a sliding stop in a sitting position. These athletic horses often have hock problems, as well as tendon and ligament injuries in the front legs from the turning and stopping. It is always advisable to work closely with you Veterinarian to develop a plan to support your Western horse. Easy to do therapies include poultice, ice therapies, massages, liniments, and heat packs, to name a few. These therapies work to decrease inflammation in tendons, ligaments and joints, reduce pain, promote circulation, and generally just feel good for your horse. Cooling therapies, like ice and poultice, remove inflammation and promote healing of old and new injuries and are especially good for legs and joints. Cold therapy is also a great way to reduce any discomfort your horse may be feeling, as well as working to help prevent further injuries over time. Warming therapies, such as some liniments and hot packs, often sooth sore muscles and may help your horse loosen up to prepare for exercise. Many horses benefit from a heating and cooling plan. The easiest way to incorporate these therapies is do overlap them at the same time as your regular barn and grooming chores. As you are grooming you horse, he could be wearing a back blanket fitted with heating packs. After your ride, it’s simple to use ice boots on your horse’s hooves and legs as you brush away the saddle marks and clean your tack. Time well spent!
Leg care for the trail horse! Over the years, I have given a lot of “Leg Care” talks at expos, tack stores, barn chats, Pony Club meetings. These talks generally cover the following wonderful topics - How to do the daily leg inspection. Leg care for exercise and shipping - bandaging, wrapping, boots, polos, protection and WHY. Post exercise leg care. Weird things you can find on your horse’s legs. Inevitably, I’m always if this leg care is necessary from some that has a trail horse. Or a backyard horse that they only ride on the weekends. Or an older horse that they just play around on. The trail horse meets terrain, rocky footing, uneven surfaces. My answer is simple - in most cases, these horses need more care than the top sport or high performance horse, for a few reasons! Trail horses usually do their jobs on some really uneven terrain. It can vary from deep sand, to concrete like trails covered in rocks. Nothing is level. When the trails are hard, this creates concussion in the legs. When they are rocky, stone bruises are a real possibility. Deep footing, like sand or mud, strains and stretches the tendons and ligaments. There is a lot of soft tissue being moved around and stretched! Top athletic sport horses have the highest level of fitness. Many (but not all) of the trail horses and weekend warrior horses maintain a much lower level of fitness. This can put them at greater risk of injury - as their bodies are not conditioned for stress and exercise. Think of it this way. You are a casual runner, and you complete 3 miles on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday you can barely walk. Your neighbor runs 3 miles 5 days a week and has no problems walking after two days in a row. Many horses that do not have a regular exercise routine like to participate in shenanigans and tomfoolery during turn out and grazing time. There’s nothing wrong with this - it’s what horses do! Don’t forget, though, that horses spend an awful lot of time trying to injury themselves, and in some cases the exercise we do with them helps them relax in the turnout instead of burn calories zipping around. For older horses, just as in older people, stiffness and arthritis is a common issue. The phrases “motion is lotion” and “use it or lose it” apply here. Without daily movement, many older horses feel worse! Support your older horse’s joints with some great leg care and a suitable exercise program. What’s appropriate leg care for the trail horse? The weekend warrior? The older guy? Lots of paying attention. Memorize your horse’s legs. Daily leg inspections for heat, swelling, bugs, cuts, scrapes, scratches, weird new things, splints, you name it! Use cold therapy techniques on your horse’s legs. These can easily be done as you are brushing away sweat marks and cleaning tack - it doesn’t need to add tons of time to your routine!