No matter what activities you and your horse participate in, leg care is always a top concern for horse owners. With horses being somewhat of nature’s joke in designing animals, a large bowling ball on toothpick legs, all equestrians worry about the delicacy of their beloved partner’s leg health. If your horse has ever experienced a leg injury (and if they have not, count your blessings and knock-on-wood), as a horse owner, you may be slightly traumatized by what is usually a long recovery road and a massive amount of vet bills that come along with it. So many of us have been there, through it all, with horse leg care. How can we prevent injuries for our equine friends? What, as owners and partners, can we do to minimize the risk of injury?
But why are legs so troublesome?
Horses’ legs are under a tremendous amount of pressure. On a day-to-day basis, these four limbs are carrying around 900-1800+ pounds of body weight. Natural factors contribute to creating issues for a horse’s legs. Their confirmation and natural way of moving can create additional pressure and stress on tendons and ligaments. Additionally, the anatomy of a horse’s leg does not have a lot of protective muscle around the bones, tendons, and ligaments leaving them naturally more susceptible to injury. Again, what can we do to protect our horses’ legs and prevent leg injuries?
Protective gear such as polo wraps and boots have been long-time favorites across disciplines. They offer protection from injuries that may otherwise be caused by the hoof hitting the inside of the leg and offer additional tendon support. Other practices, such as icing legs and cold therapy, help in reducing inflammation post-exercise. However, the common hurdle with this practice is that it also constricts blood vessels reducing the flow of blood to the leg. Inspired to find a solution that fits any horse owner’s need, Louisa Williams, one of Horseware Ireland’s Product Designers, decided to take on the challenge of creating a product to help prevent, repair, and rehabilitate tendon damage with increasing blood circulation in horse legs. Her outcome was a game-changer for the equine industry with her creation of Ice-Vibe.
Introduction of Ice-Vibe
In its simplest explanation, Ice-Vibe does what ice therapy alone cannot. Ice-Vibe uses cold packs around the horse’s leg to reduce swelling and inflammation. However, the addition of vibrating massage panels that slide into a pocket inside the outer boot is what makes this product revolutionary in leg care. While ice alone restricts blood supply to the legs, the massage panels stimulate circulation allowing for healthy, oxygen-rich blood flow through the legs.
One unique benefit of Ice-Vibe is that it is multipurpose. The boots can be used on your horse’s legs for a pre-ride warm-up, post-ride recovery, or rehabilitation of tendon damage. To share more about how Ice-Vibe works and best practices, we have teamed up with the innovator herself, Louisa, to answer some frequently asked questions about the product.
How do I properly use the Ice-Vibe Boots for maintenance and prevention?
When using the boots for warm-up or as a circulation treatment, use the massage panels and outer booth without the cold packs. Slide the vibration panel in the pocket that suits your horse’s need best and set it to setting two. It’s perfect to use Ice-Vibe before tacking up to allow enough time for the full cycle. This vibration before exercise can allow the ligaments and tendons to warm up and become more flexible before entering the ring helping to avoid additional strain.
As part of post-workout leg care, if you have just completed a very strenuous exercise and you are concerned with tendons overheating, then use traditional ice boots for 10-minutes. Once the tendons are at a safe temperature, the ultimate recovery consists of circulation and good lymphatic fluid drainage. Use the Ice-Vibe on setting 2 with cold packs. The massage therapy from the vibrating panels will support healthy blood flow and prevent the legs from getting too cold, while the cold packs will help the legs cool without freezing them.
How can I integrate Ice-Vibe products into a rehabilitation plan?
Before using Ice-Vibe products, consult your vet to ensure it is integrated and aligned with their healing plan. Be careful using any cold products after legs have been clipped for scans and scanning gels are used. Once receiving vet approval, use Ice-Vibe for 6 days on and then one day off. Start on setting 1 of the massage panels and use with the cold packs for a week, after a day off then increase to twice a day still on setting 1 with the cold packs. Carry on using this way for 2 weeks. Then increase to setting 2 on the massage panels while using cold packs twice a day. Continue to use 6 days a week with one day off.
If you are hand walking, use Ice-Vibe Boots after hand walking in the morning and use the portable massage boots again in the evenings. After 6 weeks start using one of the treatments without the cold packs setting 2, and continue to do the second treatment with cold packs while still using setting 2 on the massage panels. After 6 weeks, use twice a day without the cold packs setting 2. On days you increase the horse’s work, you can swap the after-exercise treatment to setting 2 with cold packs. After the rehab phase of 6 to 9 months, go back to maintenance usage of four-time per week.
How often should I use my boots as part of maintenance & prevention?
On days you are doing easy work, use either before or after exercise without cold packs on setting 2. After strenuous work, use Ice-Vibe before exercise without cold packs on setting 2. Then again use after exercise with cold packs on setting 2. If you need to urgently cool the legs due to overheating, then use standard ice boots first. Then use your Ice-Vibe an hour later to support circulation and lymphatic fluid clearance. You can use Ice-Vibe boots again a couple of hours later.
Can the ones for the knee & hock be used at the same time as the ones for the legs?
We recommend you use the hock or knee boots or use the lower leg boots separately as individual treatments. When using cold packs, it is fine to use them three times a day to treat different areas.
What is the best way to store Ice-Vibe?
The beaded gel packs can be stored in the freezer. Leave out for ten minutes before using during the winter or longer if the legs are clipped and/or white.
Have more questions or want to learn more directly from Louisa? Visit our YouTube Channel for more Ice-Vibe video content.
Still not sure if Ice-Vibe will work for your horse? Take a look at the first-hand experience with DeAnn Sloan using the Ice-Vibe Tendon Boots on her horse, Mac, in Horse Nation’s recent product review of Ice-Vibe Boots.
Horseware Ice-Vibe is available in three options. Ice-Vibe Tendon Boots, Ice-Vibe Knee Boot, and the Ice-Vibe Hock Wrap all suit your horse’s needs.