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Thermodynamic effects of commercially available ice boots

Madison N. Quintanar
Tess Pu'uwaionalani Millar
Matthew A. Burd


The limb of the equine athlete is subjected to all types of various stressors during exercise. To ensure the health of the horse and to prevent the possibility of lameness, it has been a common practice to apply cold therapy to the distal limb of the horse pre- and post-exercise. Commercially available boots are widely available for the application of cold therapy. To test the effectiveness of the boot, 6 healthy performance level sport type horses were exercised at a walk, trot, and canter in a round-pen and then subjected to the application of the ice boot for 20 minutes on a treatment leg, and no ice boot on an untreated leg. Thermal images were taken of the 3rd metacarpal region pre-exercise, post-exercise, post-ice boot, and every 2 minutes after until the difference between the temperatures of the control leg and the treatment leg became zero. The images were analyzed using an analysis software (FLIR Tools) to determine the average temperature of the 3rd metacarpal region at each time point. The measured temperatures between treatments were found to be significantly different due to the application of the ice boot, providing evidence that the boot sufficiently cools the leg (P<.01). Thereafter, a 95% confidence interval was created to depict the average time it took for the cooled leg to return to average temperature post-ice boot, suggesting that it takes about 14.67 minutes for the difference between the temperatures of the cooled leg versus the non-cooled leg to become zero. This finding is significant to horse owners, trainers, and veterinarians that use this commonly available tool. These findings lend evidence to support the common practice of using cold therapy in treatment of disease in the horse.

Keywords: Cold therapy, Equine, Equine limb, Ice boot, Thermography

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2218-6050
print ISSN: 2226-4485