Buying Guide for Ice Boots


How Effective & Easy are our Ice Boots to Use?

Equessential has now made it easy for you to provide superior, effective cold & compression therapy boot for your equine athlete. With the carefully researched design used by Equessential for their ice boots, simple cooling techniques are now accessible, easy to use and extremely effective, assisting you ensure the longevity of your horses’ performance. Equessential Ice boots, fit better, are designed to shape to your horses’ leg and pastern joint, don’t slip and are easy to use.

Equessential has designed an ice treatment boot where you can keep it simple when incorporating ice and compression therapy into your post-workout or trauma care routine. Our boots enable your horse to be walked until his respiration rate has returned to normal after exercise, he can be hosed with the boots on, which should all be able to be done within the suggested 20 to 30 minutes. There’s no need to repeat the process if you’re simply helping him recover after exercise, as opposed to treating an identified injury where multiple treatments 30 minutes apart are recommended.

Most people would agree that using cold therapy to treat equine injuries is a time-honored method in veterinary medicine, but getting the job done in an effective and labor-saving manner has long been a problem, too many products are ineffective, time consuming, need additional money spent each time they are used, and do not treat the entire area which requires cold therapy.

When icing your horse, it is important to keep in mind that the treatment method needs to stay at a therapeutic level of cold long enough to reduce the temperature in the horse’s limbs. For post-workout care most veterinarians recommend 20 to 30 minutes of cooling, Equessential guarantees their boots will be easily effective for this amount of time, the Premium boots doubling that time so multiple icing or multiple horses can be treated.

Applying ice can improve a variety of soft-tissue injuries by decreasing blood flow to the damaged area and slowing the metabolism of the surrounding tissue so it is less likely to suffer damage from swelling and constriction. Heat therapy is best for chronic pain and injuries without swelling. A general rule of thumb is, use ice for acute injuries or pain with inflammation and swelling, and use heat for muscle pain or stiffness.

Cold & Compression Therapy Combined

Renowned Australian Vet, Dr. John Konke states in a recent article that if you are training horses on a regular basis “ice boots which surround the hoof, pastern, and fetlock up to knee (or hock) in height are probably a more effective way of cooling the limbs, save time and water as compared to water hosing or ice packs.” Equessential ice boots are designed to do just this, give full coverage and use wide compression straps to reduce swelling.

On your return from a ride, remove any bandages to facilitate radiant heat loss, especially paddock, ‘polo’ or working bandages. Applying a large volume ice pack within 10 minutes after exercise will significantly reduce joint, tendon and hoof temperatures in the lower limb. In turn, this may increase the long-term overall soundness of a horse in heavy, day to day training.

Routine application of cold therapy after hard workouts also helps in diagnosis of injuries, rather than masking them. The rational is that if you know how your horse's legs look before after cold therapy application post-workout, the rider will be able to spot any abnormalities in their horses legs from injury much more easily, and treat accordingly.

When Should I Apply Ice?

Ice boots can be used as a post ride application at any time. It makes sense to ice after each work-out, to reduce the chance of any niggling injuries becoming a bigger problem. Small knocks or tears which don't actually result in inflammation will be treated by applying ice for 20-30 minutes.The faster you can halt the inflammatory response the better the horse’s chance of recovery will be.
When an area is acutely inflamed, other mechanisms besides increased circulation result in swelling. Tiny blood vessels become “leaky” and allow more fluid to escape into the tissues. White blood cells rush into the injured area in response to chemical messengers such as histamines, as they begin to clean up damaged tissues, local release of enzymes and other substances further increases edema. Veterinary science has proven the release of chemicals from both local cells and white cells migrating in from the circulation also play a role in the creation of pain. Cold therapy may decrease the number of active inflammatory cells in the area and possibly their activity.

Equessential Ice Boots are designed so the horse can be walked cool whilst wearing the boots, and getting the benefits of cold therapy, this enables the horse to be free in a restricted area such as a yard or stable, decreasing time the handler needs to attend the horse.

It is also important avoid excessive moisture on the skin, softening of the skin when cold hosing, applying boots soaked in water or using crushed or cubed ice encourages fungal invasion into the wet skin, and possible introduction of infection to any small nicks or cuts. Lumpy ice or dispersion of the filling inside the boots have the ability to cause more harm than good.

The Equessential Ice Boots are designed using fully enclosed and reusable ice cells which sit flat against the leg, mold into areas between tendons and ligaments and also ensure the legs stay dry during treatment.

Will My Horse Benefit from Ice Therapy?

For acute injury to soft tissues, including fascia, muscle, tendon and/or ligament tissue, ice is often the first and best treatment. Veterinarians tend to recommend intensive ice treatment for the first 24 to 72 hours post-injury, but times can vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. For laminitic horses the standard protocol is to ice the feet for the first 72 hours to reduce the inflammation in the hoof, which starts almost immediately after a triggering event. The faster you can halt the inflammatory response the better the horse’s chance of recovery will be. 

Ice and cold therapy after a workout helps to reduce inflammation whether you see it or not. Heat in the tendons, ligaments and joints creates cellular damage, which can lead to tendon damage, ligament damage and arthritis in the joints. These conditions will ultimately affect your horse’s soundness. 

The most important part of post-exercise horse care or after riding in extreme heat/humidity is the immediate cooling of the body temperature. Equessential Ice Boots be joined together and have also be used to wrap carefully around the horses poll to decrease overall body temperature.

After the horse’s body has cooled down, the important care of their legs begins. Horses carry a very large amount of body weight on relatively small legs, with about 60% of this weight carried on the front legs. Because of this, the front legs will often take a pounding, particularly if the ground and footing was hard, uneven, or muddy.

Icing your horse’s legs is a fantastic practice to get into after every hard ride. Applying Equessential Ice Boots after exercising your horse can help to take down any inflammation before it is even noticeable to you. Equessential Ice Boots are designed to focus primarily on the tendons running along the back of the legs, and secondarily on any joints that might be overly stressed in your discipline (hocks, fetlocks, etc.).

Cold Therapy as First Aid

The benefits of cold therapy in treating acute injuries will be familiar to anyone who has put an ice pack on their own newly twisted ankle. Something similar happens when you use ice to ease the trauma of a horse who knocks his fetlock on a jump or gets kicked on the hindquarters by a pasture mate.

For starters, cold has an analgesic effect, which means it more or less numbs tissues that it touches. This makes the horse feel better almost immediately.

Meanwhile, another important physiological process is triggered by the cold. When a horse knocks a knee, pulls a tendon or otherwise injures himself, damaged blood vessels in the affected area begin to leak fluid into the surrounding tissues. This sets off an inflammatory cascade that we see as swelling and the horse feels as pain. Left alone, this leaking will stop naturally in about 12 to 36 hours, and the body’s natural “clean-up” effort will begin as part of the healing process. Dramatically cooling tissues at a new injury site, however, causes the blood vessels to constrict, limiting the leakage that leads to inflammation. This means there is less for the body to clean up later, shortening total healing time.

“The benefits of cold in the acute stage [first two to three days after the injury] are great,” says Kent Allen, DVM, a sport horse veterinarian in Middleburg, Virginia. “In those first days the cold therapy will slow blood flow, reduce pain perception and limit the amount of inflammatory mediators being released into the area, thus it lowers cell metabolism, muscle contractility, nerve conduction, and significantly reduces the inflammatory response.”

The moment you notice a lump or a limp, apply cold to the area, but keep an eye on your watch. “You only need to do it for about 20 or 30 minutes at a time,” says Connally. “You don’t have to do it continually.” In fact, continual cold can damage tissues, and you’ll want to allow for at least 30 minutes between treatments. For maximum effect, follow a 20-minutes-on, 30-minutes-off schedule as closely as you can for the first 36 hours after an injury.

Cold Therapy for Older Injuries

Even after the acute phase of an injury has passed, cold therapy can still aid in recovery. “Another use of cold therapy, which many people tend to forget, is during rehabilitation,” says Katie Seabaugh, DVM, of the University of Georgia and diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. “After the injury is healing, it is helpful to incorporate cold therapy into a recovery plan.”

Just as in application to an acute injury, the benefits of cold therapy in rehabilitation hinge on its vasoconstrictive effects. Treating a horse with ongoing issues or old injury is most beneficial when cold and magnetic treatment are used together, Equessential now gives you the opportunity to use both types of treatment together to trigger the 'Cleanup Crew'.

Triggering the “Cleanup Crew”

In treating acute injuries, the constriction of blood vessels by cold limits leakage and damage in tissues. In a rehabilitating horse, however, the leakage has stopped and it’s the return of blood to the area after the cold is removed that is most helpful. The renewed circulation brings a “cleanup crew” of white blood cells and natural chemicals that destroy dead cells and clean up physiological debris. This cooling/warming cycle created by intervals of icing also generates a “pumping” action in the tissues that can encourage and speed healing.

Equessential Ice boots used in conjunction with Equessential Magnetic boots creates the above environment perfectly…the ice boots constrict the blood vessels over 20 minutes, then on application of the magnetic boots immediately afterwards, the blood and natural chemicals are pumped rapidly through the tissues, triggering an extremely effective healing environment.

Even after healing is well underway and swelling has dissipated, it’s often wise to continue cold therapy even as the horse resumes his normal regimen. “If the horse has been off work for a long-time during recovery, perhaps from a tendon injury, and is just starting exercise again, it is beneficial to apply cold therapy when that injured area is put back into work,” says Seabaugh. “This can help minimize possible stress and inflammation as you get the newly healed tissues working again.”

Application tip: During the rehabilitation phase of an injury, cold therapy doesn’t need to be applied as frequently as in the acute phase. One 20-minute session of icing after exercise will usually be adequate.

Cold Therapy for Faster Athletic Recovery

Cold therapy can also become part of a horse’s wellness regimen after strenuous athletic effort. When a horse is working hard, capillaries that serve his muscles, tendons and ligaments expand to bring in needed blood. When work stops, however, that excess flow can persist, and the now-unneeded fluid can bring with it enzymes associated with inflammation. As these fluids pool in the area, they make the horse sore and experience stretch tissues, which can lead to stiffened muscles, tendons and ligaments in the short and long term. You can prevent most of this by using Equessential Ice therapy boots, which will help close up those vessels, restoring post-workout circulatory conditions quickly.

How Long Should I Ice My Horses Legs For?

Consensus in the veterinary industry is that ice should be applied to the affected area from 20-30 minutes. “You don’t get any additional benefit if you use cold therapy longer than about 30 or 40 minutes because after that you start getting the vasodilation effect, the over dilatation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure and sends the bodies natural response to speed up blood flow, counterproductive to what cold therapy is aiming to achieve,” says Allen. “Standing a horse in a bucket of ice all day doesn’t provide any positive benefit, using the cold too long is actually counterproductive.”

Horses typically become used to having Ice Boots put on and will stand quietly for their treatments. Because our ice boots fit so well and offer relief to the horse, many of our customers report their horses even appear to enjoy and look forward to regular treatments with their Equessential Ice Boots.

For better or worse, most of us are always ready to embrace innovative, easy to use and effective methods of caring for our horses. Where we are pressed for time and want results, simple is good, and Equessential Ice Boots offer just that---a good, simple way to help keep horses sound, comfortable and healthy. Equessential gives every rider the opportunity to incorporate icing their horse’s legs easily and effectively into their everyday riding regime.

Usage & Care Instructions

  • To freeze your ice boots, simply place the whole boot flat in the freezer, ensuring the nylon inner faces outwards. Alternatively, remove the cold packs and freeze separately.
  • When transporting your Ice Boots, wrap them up in themselves and place in a cooler.
  • Store either frozen in the freezer. If unfrozen, ensure boots are totally dry before storing.
  • Gentle hand wash in warm water.
  • If using a washing machine, use a gentle cycle and wash the outers only (remove cells). Ensure hook attachments are securely fastened to the outside of the boot, we recommend you place your boots in a wash bag.
  • Dry flat in a shady area, away from any direct heat source.