Used to be, whenever your horse had a leg injury, you were forced to stand there cold-hosing the horse’s limb several times a day, or persuading your horse to stand in a bucket of ice water. Bad enough to do this in the heat of the summer. In winter weather it’s downright awful. Brrrr!
If your horse has a wound that requires water-pressure cleansing, there is really no easy substitute for cold-hosing. If what you’re aimed for is inflammation reduction, though, there are many avenues to explore that are easier on you and your horse. Some are even easy on your pocket book!
At the lowest price point are new evaporative therapy products that require no refrigeration, water, or electricity to work. These can cost as little as $9 for a bandage loaded with a special horse-friendly liquid that pulls heat out of the limb through evaporation. These bandages can be reused many times with a bottle of the liquid. Proponents say that evaporative cooling is more efficient and less uncomfortable or damaging to the skin. Look for products that offer significant cooling to a deep level, and that last a while.
The more classic form of cooling is forced cooling, as when you apply an ice pack or frozen gel pack to a limb. Some companies offer gel sheets that may be frozen, then applied inside boots you already own, while others offer a line of special therapy boots made specifically for hooves, fetlocks, knees and hocks, each of which comes with appropriate gel packs to freeze.
Finally, at a higher cost point there are systems that mimic cold hosing. These use a machine that you preload with water and ice, which then circulates water through boots that your horse wears, complete with suspenders to keep the boots up on the legs. For serious or chronic injuries, or for a barn with several performance horses, this might be a wise investment to make to both save you time and provide the ultimate in leg care for your horse.
As always, consult your veterinarian to decide on what’s best for your horse’s particular injury or chronic problem.