Horse Leg Care and Cold Therapy

by Jordan Manfredi
It has long been understood that cold therapy is an effective way to reduce swelling, pain and low level inflammation after horse training sessions. Horses are athletes that work hard doing various forms of activities that cause anything from sore feet to strained tendons and ligaments. Sore muscles with any activity are a possibility. Cold therapy can help relieve these problems. When a horse become injured the tissue around the injury releases chemicals that attract white blood cells to the injured area. White blood cells remove damaged tissue and foreign materials which may include bacteria. This will cause additional chemicals to be released. Chemicals such as cytokies and prostaglandins. As this occurs heat and inflammation will be present. Current data shows that the most reliable and efficient way to lower tissue temperature is by conduction. In other words cold therapy will draw heat from the affected area to a cooler area. How do you know when to use cold therapy? If the area in question feels hot, cool it, but it is worthwhile to note that inflammation may be too deep to feel. Tendons and ligaments have little blood supply and are vulnerable to heat damage. Cartilage has no blood supply that helps reduce heat build up of heat. Thus cooling helps protect joints. Treatment for laminitis has been treated with cold water for years. More recently it is thought that if you can cool the entire leg from knee to hoof laminitis can be halted. This is especially true with carbohydrate overload or in insulin-resistant horses. Results on other types of laminitis caused by systemic infections like Potomac horse fever or strangles are not conclusive and you should consult with a veterinarian. This brings us to the question. How long should cold therapy be applied? This will depend on the cooling material used. The colder the product used within reason the faster the affected area cools out. Ice is colder than water. However, there are cold packs made of different materials available today that are quite convenient and retain low temperatures for long periods of time. Cold packs such as Ice Horse First Ice Inserts provide a safe and convenient method to apply cold therapy. First Ice inserts placed in a number of different protective wraps for tendons, stifles, hind legs, knee to pastern/fetlock, hocks as well as their Big Black Boot for the hoof are some of the most professional products available today and were chosen by Horse Journal to be their editors choice in 2010. Horse Tack Company offers a complete line of Ice Horse products as well as 6 pocket Ice boots, 9 pocket ice boots as well as cooling poultices. We believe in and highly recommend cold therapy after exercising or daily workouts with your horse.

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