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Temperature therapy has a wealth of benefits for the horse’s wellbeing, comfort and recovery. Both cold and heat therapy for horses are time-tested remedies for aiding the healing of injuries in horses, as well as helping the muscles and tendons to recover from hard work.
Cold therapy works by cooling the horse’s tissue temperature down, which in turn reduces pain, swelling and bleeding and slows down the inflammatory responses. Cold therapy is used following intensive work (e.g. ice boots after cross country), or for recent injuries – it’s particularly effective during the first 24 – 48hrs after surgery or for injuries such as sprains or strains, bruises, cellulitis and lymphangitis.
Cold relief boots and ice boots for horses offer consistent cold therapy to the leg once applied, keeping the temperature more even than cold hosing and being easier to undertake than immersing the legs in buckets. The material of ice/cold boots ensure there is a barrier between the ice and the horse’s leg – ice packs or ice gel packs should not be directly applied to the horse’s legs.
Warming the body’s tissue will decrease any localised pain while increasing the blood circulation to the area which accelerates healing. This is particularly beneficial for wound healing or joint issues. Horses that are experiencing any discomfort or strain through the back muscles will find relief through heat therapy as it reduced muscle spasms. Heat therapy will also help to prepare, warm up and soften the back muscles prior to exercise, helping to reduce the risk of injury, particularly for horses that are in hard work.