Post Ride Leg Care

This topic contains 10 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by pheets pheets 3 years ago.

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  • melissa.crider Original Poster melissa.crider
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    Hi everyone!

    I have always been intrigued by riders’ (especially Eventers’) post ride leg care. I am working on moving up through the levels and I am doing my first Training level event in 2 weeks. I am always concerned about making sure my horse gets the proper care, so I feel like it is time for me to learn something new and exciting.

    So I guess my question is, what do you do after a hard ride (jumping, cross country etc)? I’ve seen a lot of people ice their horses legs, use poultice and liniment and some people (like me) just run cold water on them. I am really interested in the best practices and purposes. What are the individual benefits of poultice, liniment & ice? How do I properly wrap or use them? How long? What kind of supplies do I need?

    I am a blank slate that is in desperate need for some guidance 🙂 I have looked all over the place for some good information, but I have only found vague answers.

    Thanks in advance!

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Hi Melissa,
    A couple months back I asked a related question and pheets gave me a thorough answer. It’s under Liniment 101, in the Joints and Lameness topic.

    Bigeloil works best for me, although recently I’ve noticed a skin rash if I use it with too much potency. 30% bigeloil:water is as strong as my mare’s sensitive skin will tolerate. It has eliminated many of the soreness issues allowing us to advance in our conditioning. Routinely after a ride I cold hose and then with a sponge, I rub in the liniment over large muscles first then the legs. Studies have shown that worked horses do better if they are fed a small meal after exercise, so I’ve worked that into our routine as well.

    Hope this helps.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    There really are no set rules on what method works best for aftercare and even the slightest effort on groom’s part can make such a difference down the road! Best to determine the needs of the horse. Some applications might be over the top, others a waste of time and money. It all depends on how well your horse is prepared PRIOUR to competition and how readily s/he recovers from how hard they hammer themselves out on course. Just try really hard NOT to liniment an open wound ; ) Scrapes and abrasions are common, check for those first upon dismounting, removing boots and checking under them for wounds as well.

    Bother to be particular about the boots you use on cross country to start with. Lean toward something that allows air flow and doesn’t absorb water. If ground is hard and course is long and technical, ice boots are indicated (can’t really cite an instance in XC where ice is NOT indicated, some wounds aside). I love liniments and a good rub down but some skin is more sensitive than others and some liniments are more aggressive than others. Gear your liniment use to the tolerance of the horse’s skin.

    Poulticing is good when there is an existing issue, mild chronic inflammation, general wear and tear from overwork/age, old wound, etc., most useful in those situations. Time consuming and can be messy tho effective and acceptable in most cases. Requires poultice material, plastic wrap/ a brown paper wrap and a standing wrap. good for 24 hours. Best applied to dry clean leg, or at most, just water wet.

    Firm believer in cold hosing and rubdowns but am well aware that a hose or even running water (use of) are rare at events. Ice is good. Rapid cooling properties, requires specific ice boots(water proof and insulated), maybe a deep grain pan for Horse to stand in, and definitely supervision. 20 minute set in ice boots (any longer and you start to interfere with circulation) with a wool cooler (or a Back On Track if you got a few extra bucks layin’ around) and a flannel sheet under it and things should go well : ) In my camp, I like the horses to be groomed during this time as they come off the course, then stand still for 20 minutes? This defies my horse sense and massage is the next best thing to actually moving. Not required but suits me, the horses, my staff. Best to walk Horse casually after icing for a few minutes, too. Then before shipping home, one more good rub and a dry, clean wrap til home. At that point, depending on Horse, liniment the large muscles well, gel the legs, turn-out if possible. You want to cool the legs quickly but not the horse. Not too fast anyway, thus the cooler.

    Liniments will help relax the muscles and can minimize the occasional cramping/soreness but will only comfort, not so much cure. Good fitness and conditioning are your best friends, necessary tools. Liniments, ice, poulticing and wraps, boots, all that good stuff, will help perpetuate and promote the good conditioning and fitness that should already be established.

    Have a safe ride, every time out, and thank you on behalf of your horse’s legs : ) The goal, aside from a good ride, should be keeping the working horse sound well into his teens and beyond.

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    melissa.crider Original Poster melissa.crider
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    Thank you both for your responses! Pheets, when you say gel the horse’s legs, are you referring to a gel liniment or another product? Would I leave the gel on under the wraps? How much should I put on?

    I use the Delmar Eventer boots for cross country and really like them, I know some people don’t, but they seem to fit him nicely, protect really well, and allow for air flow.

    So what you’re saying is I need to put a pair of ice boots on my Christmas list? 🙂

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    You’re welcome, Melissa, Pheets gives great advice. I was confused at the beginning because I tried to use gel liniment like the liquid and spray it on. Gel doesn’t spray, even when diluted (and I am a chemist, severe duh-moment). Made me scratch my head at the instruction, then I found the liquid at the tack store, oh snap! LOL!

    I use the gel (diluted) with a sponge application – and brisk massage, but I have the diluted liquid in a spray bottle for a quick overall application after a short workout, including lunging, on her days off. My mare is 15, recovering from a tendon injury last fall, and these little adjustments post exercise has made a huge difference in her comfort. You may not need ice boots with liniment, but given the choice between poultice and ice boots – for the sheer mess alone – give me the ice boots. It’s good to have them around in the event of emergency, anyway.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    Thank you, Mapale, for your kind and generous support : )

    I am referring to Absorbine Gel specifically but Brand name is secondary to the stay effect of a gel. I gel legs straight from the bottle after work, water down Bigeloil as needed in a bucket with a sponge for body bracing and afterbaths, and use a spray bottle with a slightly milder blend of Big and water for under wraps if needed. Adjust as horse tolerates, responds and needs.

    The gel, any gel really, goes a long way and tho can be watered down, is best used straight and NOT under a wrap. Bigeloil or any liquid liniment and cut with water is better.Less chance of burning your horse’s skin that way. Horse should not be wrapped for more that 12 hours without a change and no more than 24 hours without a break if “sound”, meaning no chronic or existing injuries.

    Yes, Melissa, a chat with Santa about ice boots just might be in order, they ARE a wonderful and functional luxury : )

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Pheets, well-earned faith in your abilities – I’m just the voice of experience here. Carmagirl is proof you’ve got game.

    Today we cantered uphill just because Carmagirl felt so good. New vet was out last week – he’s really happy with the new liniment routine – no arguing with success – Carmagirl is in great condition.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    When using liniments on a regular basis, check skin once in a while and consider a conditioner for fur on occasion. I really like the Eqyss Marigold (smells good, works good but stoopypricy). Liniments can be very drying as well as cooling.

    Glad you’ve found something that meets the needs, Mapale, tho I am sure your diligence in maintaining your girl is a definite factour as well. Fingers crossed for you and your new vet, too. He has some pretty big shoes to fill : )

    Melissa, is that you and your horse in your profile pic? I am far from a lover of the colour orange but a friend of a friend also rides a bay in orange and I must say, it looks fabulous on them! Easier to find your stuff in the woods if you lose it, too. The colour is growing on me.. Great pic of you two : )

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Nancy
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    I’ve heard that ice can actually be detrimental. While it does stop inflammation and stops pain (although after a while the ice can hurt) It also can shut down the capillaries as the body is trying to get warm this stops the flow of fluids as circulation is reduced. Ideally you want the bad fluid -lactic acid to move out and the good- proteins and enzymes to move in. The Cytowave system does that. It is believed the biological action of the Cytowave system accelerates the cellular metabolism. It’s great for maintenance and cool down on and legs (and backs.) For injury, it can heal a serious tendon or ligament lesion in 3-5 weeks. Nothing else out there can claim that.It is a newer technology. I am definately going to check the liniment gel too.

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Nancy,
    I think it is a matter of timing. If you have an injury, ameliorating the resulting heat with ice, cold hosing, or poultice is essential to lessen the swelling which is the most damaging part of the injury. Ice is effective proximate to the time of injury usually within 24 hours. I wouldn’t use ice routinely, cold hosing (time dependent on the horse and the activity and the heat generated) is usually sufficient and not expensive as a routine safety/comfort measure.

    Cytowave – very interesting – I would think that would have to be monitored by a qualified vet, and in conjunction with an injury not as a routine management system for post ride care. With young horses stem cell therapy is an accelerated healing method, but it is only appropriate for some horses, again a vet managed treatment.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    Welcome, Nancy : )

    Absolutely the USE of ice can be countre-productive. This is why time limits are set and a brief, casual walk after icing is encouraged. With injury and overexertion, one wants to stop the injury process first, then apply healing methods. Immediate application of ice can readily stop the injury from continuing but once that mechanism has been inhibited, the ice needs to be terminated or disruption of circulation and all its undesirable consequences are very probable results.

    It is hoped, assumed and accepted by many that the cold factour is what forces the tendons to desirably contract after exertion. Makes sense to me but I can’t prove the accuracy of these theories.

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

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