Treating horse leg injuries

Posted on May 22, 2024 by Categories: Cryochaps Tags: ,

How many times have you brought your horse in from the field and they have an injury to the leg? There is either localised swelling or the swelling may cover a larger area, with or without a wound. They have overdone playtime and are now paying for it, how can you treat swellings to the horses’ lower leg as quickly and simply as possible, whilst you are waiting for the vet. It is common practice to cool the horse’s leg as quickly as you can but how long do you cool for and how often and what with, cold hosing or horse ice boots?

What is best practice for cooling horses’ legs after an injury?

Cooling the leg can be done by cold hosing or with ice boots for horses. Cold hosing and horse ice boots are an effective way of taking the heat out of a recent injury. Ice boots for horses such as Cryochaps, have been evaluated and are as effective as cold hosing at reducing temperatures. Horse ice boots and cold hosing will have an influence on reducing swelling. One of the more efficient ways to reduce swelling is to use horse ice wraps that can administer an element of compression. The combination of cooling and compression is proven to have greater benefits on clinical outcomes than just ice or cooling alone. It is therefore a natural step to use a compression ice boot for horse leg injuries.

General guidelines on how often and how long you should ice a horse injury

The frequency and duration of icing after an injury can vary depending on the type and severity of the injury, as well as individual factors. In general, icing is most effective in the immediate aftermath of an injury to help reduce the pain associated with swelling and inflammation. Compression ice boots for horses, such as Cryochaps, provide both ice and compression and when used together can greatly help to reduce the swelling. Here are some general guidelines on how often to ice after an injury however we would also ask that you seek the advice of your vet first, should your horse have an injury

Acute injury:

  • If you can catch an injury quickly after it happens and apply ice boots or an ice wrap for horses you could lessen the amount of initial swelling. It is important to minimise swelling as quickly as possible as it can cause damage to surrounding tissues. A compression ice boot for horses will be of great benefit to reduce swelling quickly.
  • After an acute injury you should apply the ice boot for horses for short sharp periods of 10-15mins and repeat. To gauge how often you need to repeat will be how the leg feels after 20-30mins after the ice boot has been removed. If there is still significant heat and swelling repeat the icing for 10-15mins. If the horses’ leg has a wound, use a barrier, like a wet cloth or towel, between the horse ice wrap and the wound.
  • A point to note – if icing has no effect i.e the leg is still very hot when you remove the boot, there could be infection present you need to liaise with your vet

Initial 48 Hours:

  • During the first 48 hours after an acute injury, using ice and compression boots for horses is still recommended. Apply to the injured area for 10-15 minutes and this can be repeated as often as 1 to 2 hours during this initial 48 hours.

After 48 Hours:

  • Beyond the initial 48 hours, the frequency of icing can be reduced. You may continue to use a horse ice wrap to the injured area 2 to 3 times a day for 10-15 minutes each time, especially if there is persistent swelling or discomfort.

Assess the Progress:

  • It’s essential to monitor the progress and adjust your icing regimen accordingly. If the swelling and pain are decreasing, you may reduce the frequency of applying the horse ice boot. Conversely, if symptoms persist or worsen, contact your vet.

Other treatments for horse injuries

Icing is just one component commonly used for acute injuries. Your vet may have prescribed painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs for oral use. Box rest may be required if it is a serious injury. Applying compression wraps or bandages is also recommended should the horse be standing in a stable, this will help to limit swelling, and can also aid recovery. Additionally, once the initial acute phase has passed, rehabilitation exercises, even just walking in hand may be recommended to promote healing and regain strength and flexibility.

It’s important to use caution when icing, as excessive or prolonged icing can potentially have negative effects on tissue. This is why it is advisable to apply horse ice boots for short sharp periods of time and then repeat rather than using for 20-30 mins in one application. Always follow the advice of a veterinary professional, and if you have any concerns or questions about your injury and the use of ice boots for horses, seek their guidance