Horses are big, strong animals. However, their legs can be surprisingly delicate as the muscles and tendons that make up the legs can get injured quite easily and can take months or even years to heal. In some cases, leg injuries never heal properly, and the horse is left lame for life. That is why it is important for horse owners to provide the utmost care to their trusty steeds and their injuries.
Below are products that help keep your horse’s legs protected and in best shape:
Boots are designed to offer support and protection to the lower part of the limbs. Horse owners generally choose boots in taking care of their horses’ legs as they are easy to fit, keep clean and are quick to remove. Boots come in many different designs with some being specifically created for a particular purpose. They also come in many different types of material including neoprene, plastic, sheepskin, leather and gel.
However, boots over time lead to heat build-up, and their weight can restrict movement. Poor fit can also cause problems to the legs. Whichever boot you choose, they should always be applied correctly and fit for purpose. Remember that ill-fitting boots are worse than no boots at all. If they are fitted incorrectly or too tightly, they will put pressure in the wrong place on the leg and cause more problems. Obvious signs that boots are incorrectly fitted are when they rub around the knee and fetlock joints, have poorly fastening straps or that they are insecure and move around when the horse is working.
Always follow the manufacturer’s measuring guide when choosing the correct size for your horse and always use a tape measure – don’t just guess.
Bandages are applied to horses to provide support for tendons and ligaments during work. They prevent or reduce swelling and protect horses from injury and from contamination. They also aid in the healing of injuries.
Exercise or polo bandages come in a variety of colours with a velcro or clip strap fastening. The bandage itself is a piece of material designed to support a medical device of some sort, such as a dressing or splint. It is often made of an elastic material to offer some compression.
It is recommended that thin wraps or exercise pads are used underneath bandages to prevent over tightening and to help offer additional protection. The main disadvantage to bandaging is that they are frequently fitted incorrectly. If they are uneven or too tight, then the resulting pressure can cause tendon injuries.
A poultice is a soft, moist mass of material applied to a horse’s knees, legs and ankles. Most poultices used for horses contain some type of clay, but cereals such as bran and herbs can also be used. A poultice is used to draw out infection and keep the area clean to prevent further reinfection. Modern poultice dressings contain boric acid and tragacanth, which work as an antiseptic and help draw out the pus.
Poultices can help with sore legs or drawing out an abscess to drain. Poultices can be applied cold, which is handy for a horse that has a sore area on its leg. Cold poultices can be used after every workout or competition and they wash off easily with water – no rubbing or hand washing necessary. Warm poultices, on the other hand, can help when dealing with hoof abscesses and sole injuries.
A liniment is a liquid or a gel that is applied to a horse’s body to help with cooling down, pain, stiffness, or soreness. Liniments often contain alcohol or oils along with various medicinal herbs and additives.
Liniments may help cool down or warm up an area; the exact effect depends on what is in the liniment and whether or not you apply it and then wrap over it. Beneficial effects may also be due to the massaging and rubbing used to apply the liniment to the horse. Depending on the additives, some liniments should never be put on an open sore or wound or applied and bandaged over. Strong ingredients could lead to blistering.
Another use for a liniment would be to carefully rub down your horse’s legs after a workout. The liniment will provide cooling benefits, and your rubbing will help you identify any sore or swollen areas. Catching problems early almost always leads to a faster resolution.
Cold therapy is universally used to minimize damage following an injury. Cold therapy can help horses heal faster during injury rehabilitation.
Cold has a local anesthetic effect that can significantly reduce pain and inhibit reflexive muscle spasms in your horse. Early use of cold therapy can reduce primary bleeding through its vasoconstrictive effects, and thus inhibit swelling. Perhaps most importantly, reducing tissue temperature can lower the metabolic rate of both the involved and uninjured cells, decreasing their demand for oxygen and thus helping to break the secondary hypoxic injury cycle and making the body’s repair job easier.
Got a question or anything I can help with? My name is Steve Stretton, and I’m the owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. You can drop me a line here. Good luck!