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Every horse owner or trainer should have a good set of ice boots available to treat leg injuries and prevent soreness, speed up recovery, and support the health of your horse’s leg. But how do you know which is best for your horse? Read on for my top ice boot picks and advice for using them.
Update: I’m testing ICE-VIBE Horseware Boots now, and the early results are good. After using them for a while, I will include a review; if you’re interested in checking them out, click here.
I’ve used various styles of ice boots over the years for different reasons. In this article, I provide you with my list of the best ice boots and why they’re essential for the health of your horse’s legs.
Professional’s Choice Ice Boots
Professional Choice makes my favorite ice boots, they have a reputation for high-quality horse products, and their ice boots are no different. They are designed with encapsulated gel packs, so the entire boot needs to be kept in a freezer or cooler.
I like that they are easy to put on and take off. Sometimes dealing with a horse with pain and swelling in its legs isn’t easy, so you want the simplest yet most effective boots to put on your horse. I find using these Professional choice boots work well.
They are a useful tool for applying cold therapy but be mindful of how long you leave them on your horse. They can cause frostbite if left on your horse too long. The exterior is made of Neoprene and uses velcro straps to hold the wrap in place.
If you attend many horse shows, the Professional’s Choice boot is the most common line you will see.
What we liked about the Professional’s Choice Ice Boot
- Made of sturdy material that will last through many uses
- Simple to use
- The velcro straps allow it to be adjusted to fit most horses.
- They come with a carrying bag, which makes them easy to store.
- The boots can be used on the front and rear legs
- Smooth lining inside the boot
Ice Horse Tendon Leg Wraps for Equine Therapy
The Ice Horse tendon leg wraps are a sturdy product that’s simple to use. They come with four reusable ice inserts that you slip into the boot before fitting on your horse’s legs. After you finish, you simply place the inserts back in the freezer until they’re needed.
The ice wraps are made with a material that holds up well and stays in place once fitted. The Velcro closures are easy to use, making taking the ice therapy wraps on and off quick work.
What we liked about the Ice Horse Tendon Leg Wraps for Equine Therapy
- Simple to use
- Stays cold for a long time
- The reusable ice packs are handy, and they don’t take up much freezer space.
Professional’s Choice Full Leg Ice Boot
Professional Choice Full Leg Ice Boots provide cold therapy from the hock down. The exterior is made from neoprene for a comfortable fit, and the pockets that hold the non-toxic solution are insulated to keep the cold therapy going for as long as possible.
The smooth nylon lining prevents shavings and other debris from sticking to the boots, and elastic hook and loop straps make for easy and secure application.
What we like about the Professional Choice Full Leg Ice Boots
- Higher coverage than most other ice boots
- flexible design so the horses can move
- Easy to use velcro straps.
Tough 1 Ice Boots
I’m always on the lookout for new and innovative products to help my horses stay healthy and perform at their best. So when I heard about gel-filled ice boots, I was intrigued. The gel within the boot helps to distribute the cold evenly, providing relief from swelling and inflammation.
I’ve found that gel-filled ice boots are an excellent way to reduce swelling and pain in my horses’ legs after a hard workout. If you’re looking for a product that can help your horse stay healthy and perform at its best, gel-filled ice boots are worth considering. Here are my favorites:
I like these ice boots; the Tough One Ice Boots are made to be kept in the freezer and are gel-filled. They are easy to put on your horse’s legs and hold in place with four velcro straps.
The thick material protects your horse’s legs from getting too cold, but if you want more intense cold, simply wet your horse’s legs before fitting the wraps.
What we liked about the Tough 1 Ice Boot
- The simple design
- The material stays flexible even when the gel is frozen
- The price is fantastic!
Intrepid International Horse Ice Boot
The Intrepid International Horse Ice Boot is made from durable Neoprene and has nine pockets to hold ice. They are a little over two-foot-long and are held in place with Velcro fasteners.
These boots are suitable for horsemen without ready access to a freezer. You have a choice to fill only the pockets where you need cold, or if necessary, you can apply cold therapy to the entire covered area.
What we like about the Intrepid International Horse Ice Boot
- You can isolate the cold spot
- No freezer space is needed, just crushed ice
Horze Finntack Pro Cooling Wrap Therapy Horse Boot One Size Black
The Horze Finntack Pro is made from durable nylon and is a gel-filled wrap that requires you to keep in a freezer between uses. It’s nice to take the leg wraps directly from the fridge and simply wrap your horses’ legs and secure them with their hardy velcro straps.
The Finntack Pro works well and stays in place, and the material maintains its flexibility while the gel is frozen. The downside to gel-filled wraps is they take a long time to refreeze. Also, these wraps are not one size fits all; they may be too small for large draft breeds.
What we liked about the Horze Finntack Pro Cooling Wrap Therapy Horse Boot One Size Black
- They are well made from durable outer material with quality velcro straps. The Finntack should last.
- They stay cold for a long time
- They are simple to use
The Benefits of Cold Treatment for Horse’s legs?
Ice treatments are commonly used to treat acute injuries; however, there are also benefits to using cold therapies for the rehabilitation and prevention of ailments.
If your horse had a recent injury involving swelling, you should apply ice to the affected area. The ice packs will minimize swelling, reduce tissue bleeding, and decrease muscle spasms and pain.
We recently had a horse injure its hock. It was swollen and hot; the first thing we did was call a vet and apply ice. Cold therapy is often used on tendon strains in horses’ lower legs. Ice boots should be applied early and often for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and control pain.
Ice treatments may also be used for chronic conditions. It’s especially useful when applied after exercise to control inflammation. Note that it is inadvisable to apply ice to a chronic injury before activity.
Cold therapy has been used for many years to treat a horse’s lower leg injuries. But until relatively recently, there were no scientific studies to back up its effectiveness. But in 2001, the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science published research establishing the benefits of cold therapy to horses that suffered lower leg injuries.
In the study, the team of researchers treated twenty-seven horses with lower leg injuries with cold spa bath hydrotherapy. Fifteen horses had grade 2 or 3 superficial digital flexor tendon damage and four suspensory ligament injuries.
These horses were treated for 10 minutes three times per week. Of these 15 horses, 13 returned to training within six months. The other horses in the study showed similar promise.
Two of the original 27 horses in the study suffered traumatic contusion injuries. The affected area was treated with cold therapy twice a day, and the horses returned to competition within 72 hours without drugs. The application of cold water and ice to an injury is safe and effective.
Frequent applications of low temperatures are useful for a variety of equine limb conditions.
Ice treatment for acute injuries
Acute injuries such as contusions frequently occur in horses and generally aren’t too concerning. Most horses respond well when cold therapy is applied soon after and repeated twice daily.
More concerning is an acute injury to the horses’ tendons. Severe damage occurs most often in sports horses, such as racehorses, show jumpers, and dressage horses.
The damage to the ligaments is commonly caused by jumping, speed work, uneven ground, and fatigue. When a horse’s foot lands strained from a jump or twist his foot, the result is often a torn tendon or ligament.
An injury to a horse’s suspensory ligament can restrict the animal’s ability to exercise and cause extreme pain. The suspensory ligament runs from the back of the cannon bone just below the knee to the inside and outside of the sesamoid bones on the rear of the fetlock joint.
The suspensory ligament is strong and broad and supports the horse’s weight as its ankle sinks. Typical suspensory injuries are classified into areas, the upper third, middle third, and inside or outside.
When the middle third of the ligament sprains, it’s the easiest to diagnose. There is noticeable swelling on both the inside and outside of the leg and associated heat. The degree of swelling and pain upon palpation often is an indication of the severity of the injury.
Cold therapy helps to reduce swelling and allows for better examination. Injuries to the upper third and inside or outside of the suspensory tendon are much more challenging to diagnose but can also exhibit swelling. To confirm a diagnosis, you likely will need a scan.
Some ligament injuries never fully heal and are prone to re-injury. Chronic suspensory problems can limit your horse’s viability to compete at its pre-injury level.
To reduce the risk of suspensory injuries, leg boots are helpful. I wrote an article about them that you can read here: 8 Best Leg Boots for Horses and Why You Need Them.
Deep digital flexor tendon
Horses have deep digital flexor tendons in their front and rear legs but are somewhat different. We are only going to address the front limb since that is the location of most tendon injuries.
The deep digital flexor of the horse’s forelimb runs from the humerus, radius, and ulna down the back of its knee, crosses over the navicular bone, and finally attaches to the end of the coffin bone.
This tendon is instrumental in the flexion of the horse’s knee and forefoot but also plays a role in its elbow joint extension and hock and foot flexion.
The most frequent flexor tendon injury occurs within the hoof capsule and the sheath surrounding the tendon. This damage is likely caused by repetitive and excessive loading.
These injuries are common in eventing horses that are frequently overstretching and causing fibers that make up the tendon to tear. Chronic damage can lead to lameness.
Ice treatments can relieve pain caused by acute deep digital flexor tendon injuries. If you suspect your horse sustained an injury to this ligament, contact your veterinarian and have the suspected area evaluated.
Acute synovitis (Joint inflammation)
The synovial joint is a freely movable joint that is encapsulated by a fibrous capsule. It is the most common of three types of joints in horses. Cartilage, ligaments, and fluids work together in a synovial joint to allow movement and transfer weight load between bones.
Inflammation of the synovitis caused by trauma can be a severe injury. Symptoms of acute synovitis are effusion, heat, pain, and lameness. It is most often seen in the knee and fetlock joints.
Recommended treatments include cold therapy, wraps, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication. Your horse will likely benefit from a training break or a reduction. If you think your horse has acute synovitis, consult your veterinarian.
Ice treatment for chronic injuries
Cold therapy has been shown to be effective maintenance for recurring problems in horses’ legs. Horses with previous tendon injuries or ligament damage are susceptible to reinjuring their leg during exercise.
Routine icing following every session of hard work will stave off further damage and reduce the pain he may have in the area. Once a horse has suffered a ligament or tendon, it has lost strength and is prone to re-injury.
Ice treatments for sore muscles
Horses get sore muscles, especially after a hard workout, by adding cold therapy to a horse’s post-recovery regime can alleviate some symptoms of soreness. When horses are worked hard, capillaries expand to move blood more efficiently to muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
When the exercise is over, the increased blood flow continues and can cause inflammation and soreness. Cold therapy causes blood vessels to restrict and return blood flow to normal and reduces pain.
Ice treatments for bucked shins.
Bucked shins are tiny stress fractures in the front of the cannon bones. Treatment for bucked shins often consists of rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and cold therapy. Signs of bucked shins include pain and swelling, and sometimes lameness.
Types of Ice Boots
The purpose of ice boots is to lower the temperature around your horse’s legs. You don’t need boots to accomplish this; you can stand your horse in a bucket of ice water or run cold water from a water hose on its legs. I’ve used both methods many times, and they work well.
But ice boots are convenient, and they allow you to put them on and walk away. This is important if other horses come into your barn and need attention.
There are a few different styles, and the prices vary greatly. Before you buy ice boots, you need to understand the basics and have a realistic view of your comfort level around horses because some models are quick and easy to put in place, and others take more time.
There are two primary styles of ice boots, the gel-filled, which requires freezing the entire wrap, and the ice boots that you fill with ice or ice packs. Gel-filled models are easy to work with, but it may not be an option if you don’t have a freezer room readily available.
Another consideration is the method used to hold the apparatus in place. Some boots use Velcro, others zippers, and some have buckles. If you’re like me and like simplicity, then Velcro works the best.
You can also find icing products that are designed for specific areas of the horse, such as the hock. Some advanced cooling therapy horse boots attach to a machine that works to keep the boots cold.
I’ve never used the advanced cold therapy appliance, but I can tell you that all the other icing boots worked fine. You need to determine what works best for your individual needs and the needs of your horse.
Horses that are comfortable having their legs wrapped shouldn’t have an issue with any of our recommended ice boots.
How to Use Ice Boots
Using ice boots post-exercise
After exercising your horse, the first thing you should do is allow him to cool down. Either walk him or put him on a walker to let his heart rate and breathing return to normal.
Once the horse has cooled, put the ice boots on. If you’re using the therapy for post-exercise maintenance, keeping the horse in the boots for no more than 30 minutes is recommended. Some people believe the application of cold treatment for extended periods could cause damage.
Ice boots use for acute injury.
Cold therapy commonly treats many acute injuries to a horse’s legs. It is critical to apply in the first 24-48. Use an ice boot that fits your horse, and make sure it’s not too tight and restricts blood flow.
Proper treatment requires taking the boots on and off until the heat and swelling are reduced. Typically, apply cold therapy to the injured leg for 15 minutes, then remove for 5 minutes and repeat.
After the inflammation has gone down, repeat the cold therapy every 4-6 hours for the next 24 hours or as advised by your veterinarian. If your horse has an open wound, do not apply the ice to that area.
If you are using traditional ice boots, it is advisable to wrap your horse’s leg before putting the ice boot on your horse. The extra layer keeps the ice from being directly against your horse leg.
There are numerous variations in treatment methods, but most importantly, use common sense. You don’t want to leave your horse in ice so long he gets frostbite.
Below is a YouTube video that talks about icing a horse’s legs.
Why do people put boots on horses?
Horse owners frequently put boots on their horses to protect their legs from interference injuries caused by horses back hoof striking their front foot. Boots are also used to support their legs and absorb shock. You can read more about horse leg boots here: 9 Best Leg Boots for Horses and Why You Need Them.
How long can you leave standing wraps on a horse’s legs?
I recommend removing and, if necessary, rewrapping standing leg wraps after 24 hours, but many people believe you should remove them every 12 hours.
You can learn more about leg wraps in this article: What Are Horse Leg Wraps Used For? 6 Reasons
I love animals! Especially horses, I’ve been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others. I have bought, sold, and broke racehorse yearlings. I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn’t make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines.