When my horse got windpuffs on her hindlegs I was searching for ways to make sure her legs could be supported in the best possible way, so that the legs would remain stable. I already knew the Ice-vibe boots from Horseware Ireland and had considered buying them for a long time. The combination of the icepack and the vibration not only makes sure there is no additional swelling but also stimulates the blood circulation of the leg and helps to reduce swelling. Time to put these boots to the test!
Not every horse with windpuffs experiences discomfort because of them. As long as they are not swollen and won’t put pressure on the tendons, the horse can move painlessly. My horse needs to get her legs cooled after every training, to make sure she stays healthy. By using ice you make sure the swelling is reduced. This works well, but be wary because cooling for too long closes the arteries. When the temperature is low the pressure also sinks and the fluid can’t be drained in the lymphatic system. This is why I wanted to try if there was a real difference between only cooling the legs and adding vibration to stimulate blood flow and circulation. When I ordered the Ice vibes, my horse had an inflammation of the periosteum, a very sensitive area, on the right front leg. This caused pain and swelling, which is why I tested whether the boots could help to improve that.
The set is really nice when it arrives. Two outer boots made from sturdy material, which are secured with long velcro strips. Then there are the Icepacks with “vertical icepack gel bags“, which are also secured on the leg with velcro. Additionally, there are two vibrating panels and a charger with micro USB cables, which looks like a normal phone charger. But because Horseware, the manufacturer, sells their products all over the world, you get adapters for the charger so you can use it all over the world, even in America and Australia. This is actually really convenient to have, even if you just go on holiday, you can use them for your phone.
There is also a whole manual, which goes with the boots because their vibrating panels have different programs. The first one is activated by the green light on the on-switch, which is a mild program that lasts 10 minutes. When you push the button again you see a yellow light appear. This is the same program, but it lasts 20 minutes. The last program, which lets a red light appear, is the more difficult program for when there is scar tissue involved, for example with windpuffs. This includes stronger vibrations, so the tissue is stimulated more. The boot works in two ways: first, you put the icepack on the leg, which makes sure that there is no additional swelling, then you use the outer boot with the vibrating panels, which help the circulation and get rid of the excess fluid.
I used the first program on the front leg, which was inflamed. I used it for some weeks, and together with anti-inflammatory medicine and gel, this worked really well to get the inflammation under control and to finally let it disappear. My horse is pain-free again and is back on track, so now I only use the boots on the hindlegs, for which I use the red program. I think the windpuffs really benefit from vibration and circulation therapy because they feel softer and less filled after 20 minutes. I now just have the ice packs in the freezer at the stable and use them after every ride. I would say that for horses with inflammations and windpuffs, which need a lot of cooling, this really works well.
The boots and Ice packs are a bit big for an Icelandic horse because the smallest size you can get is a FULL. The fit on the leg of the Ice packs and outer boots is a bit weird because it is a standard size. I always place the icepack velcro strip at the front of the leg, so the ice is really cooling on the backside of the legs, where the wind puffs are. I think the fit of the Icepacks could really be improved by this brand, but the system still works really well. It is also very good to see that the pressure on the tendons is low after using these boots, which also made me worry less. Now I can ride with fewer sorrows and ask more of my horse. Of course, I really monitor her legs very well and make sure I don’t overwork the legs because damage can be prevented but never reversed…
The set is a bit pricey with an average of €200, but I had a discount code laying around of a store that sold them, so I got them a bit cheaper. I think that looking back, the €200 would really have been worth it. Especially with the inflammation, they worked just fantastically. There is no other brand which also produces boots like these, as far as I know. I think if you have a big stable or a competition horse with sensitive legs, they are really worth the investment because it also helps really well with recovery after training. If you are interested in the boots, click here to go to the Horsewear website to read more about them.