Tuesday, August 11, 2009

DIY Icing Boots

So as you all know, Pandora kinda sliced her leg up in late June. For the next few days, she had three legs and a stovepipe - nothing terribly wrong, but I wanted to ice it to help it go down. Holding gradually melting packs of ice to her impatient legs whilst my fingers go numb is not my idea of a good time, nor is hosing her leg for 20 minutes which doesn't do that much good anyway because it's not cold enough, nor do I want to shell out a bunch of money for big fancy ice boots.

So after a quick search on the always-informative Chronicle of the Horse forums, I decided on my plan of attack. It actually turned out very well, and eventually I plan on buying enough materials to ice all four legs at once (for icing after strenuous work, rather than expecting an injury on each leg!).

I thought I'd share it with you, because it's a pretty neat, non-messy technique that might come in handy.

Here's the material I used, though several variations would work.

1 flexible sheet of individual gel squares (like these)
1 ace bandage (stretchy, so careful not to pull too tight)

Here are some substitutions you could probably make without much trouble:
- use large gel ice packs instead of the square-sheets I used
- make your own by double-bagging Ziplocs, filling with a water/rubbing alcohol mixture, then freezing to make a slushy/moldable ice pack, then taping several together (too much work for me!)
- use a polo wrap, track wrap, or some other wrap over the ice instead of an ace bandage

I'm sure there are plenty of other variations, too. Here's what I did.

  1. Start with a horse leg, or in my case, a horse leg that looks suspiciously like a stove pipe.
  2. If you'd like, hose down the leg to help it get colder faster. Wrap your ice sheet (this is where I think the sheet I used will be much easier than any form of large ice packs) around the leg like a regular bandage quilt.
  3. Then, just like you're doing a standing wrap, tuck the edge of the ace bandage under the overlapped area of your ice sheet.
  4. Wrap all the way down and up so the ice pack is pretty much covered, then secure. You can use the little metal hook thingies that come with ace bandages, but I lost mine so I just used a turn or two of vetwrap.
Essentially, you're doing a standing wrap, only you use a sheet of frozen gel instead of a pillow for quilting.

And you're done! Mine worked extremely well. There was no slippage to speak of and Pandora didn't mind the wrap at all - she was loose in her stall eating hay.

My only complaints are these: it melts in about 10 minutes and the ice sheets appear to have no gel in them because the frozen individual squares are pretty hard. So the sheet itself molds well to her leg, but you'd probably get better coverage with a sheet that has actual gel in it. I know they make them, but I was limited by local selection - maybe you'll have better luck. I imagine gel sheets would stay frozen longer, too.

Bonus methods:
  • Turn a bell boot upside down and bring it up over the fetlock. Fill with crushed ice. Stick a bunch of frozen otter-pops vertically in the ice so they go up the leg, then wrap over with an ace bandage, polo, or track wrap.
  • Cut the leg off an old pair of jeans. Duct tape it shut at the bottom of the area you're icing (down near the fetlock, probably), fill the whole thing with ice (plus water if you'd like), then tape the top shut. Note that the tape isn't going on the leg, it's just taping the jeans up snug so the ice doesn't fall out.
  • Here's an idea, though I haven't seen it done - buy some shipping boots a size larger than you normally would, then sew a bunch of mesh pockets on the insides that you can fill with ice or ice packs. This one seems like it would be labor-intensive at first, but super easy to use!
  • Just buy some freakin' ice boots and be done with it! :-)

Either way, I was quite pleased. Not bad for about $5.


Sydney said...

As an equine massage therapist and mom to a horse that hurts herself WAAAYYYY too much I found the easiest way to ice things you can't wrap easily is getting a styrofoam cup, filling it with water and freezing it. Once its frozen you peel away the cup and ice.

Big bags of peas work well for wrapping too.

Leah Fry said...

That's really good info. It wouldn't take up much room at all to keep a sheet of the gel stuff in the freezer.

Deered said...

I have used disposable nappies - cut a slit in one end, fill with ice and water and bandage onto the leg. Worked a treat.

manymisadventures said...

Excellent call on the styrofoam cup - I could have used that when Pandora got tangled in her blanket and had a big swelling on the front of her gaskin. I'll definitely keep that in mind.

Deered, that also sounds like a great way to go, especially since diapers are so absorbent.

mugwump said...

I have 2 pair of old buckle, black army boots (army surplus, $10). I put them on my horse backwards, fill them with ice or warm water or whatever soak we need and buckle them up.
They are perfect for injuries from below the knee to the hoof.
Highly amusing to watch them slosh around in too.

manymisadventures said...


Backwards army boots.

You win for strangest mental image! It sure sounds odd, but hey, if the shoe fits... ;)

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