Part of Foster’s rehab program includes icing. We started icing with the first handwalking sessions, and I continue to ice as much as possible after every ride. The theory behind icing is thus (and I hope I have this right): bone is constantly remodeling, degenerating and regenerating in tandem ideally at the same pace. In Foster, the degeneration happens a bit faster than the regeneration, which can make the joint weak and lends to the arthritis in his fetlock. The process is accelerated by concussion on the joint, such as exercise, but icing can slow the degeneration and therefore a helpful part of recovery.
Before starting to ice, my vet suggested I look into ice boots that specifically covered the fetlock joint. So I purchased the Ice Horse Evendura boots, which reach from knee to fetlock, of course also icing all the tendons/ligaments in between.
My first impression is that this thing seems durable and well-made. And for the $150 price, I wouldn’t expect any less. I wondered if the velcro and elastic straps would deteriorate with age, but after 2 months of using it, I have yet to notice any obvious stretching or lack of “stick”.
The boots are handily labeled “L” and “R” and are composed of an inner section that the ice packs velcro to, and an outer section with straps for attaching to the leg. I must confess, when I first pulled this thing out of the box it wasn’t entirely obvious how it went on, but perhaps I was having a dumb moment. The boot came with 4 ice packs to each leg, and you could then configure them however you want inside each boot.
The ice packs are where my complaints are, mostly. They are advertised as being a formula that stays soft and pliable like snow, even after being in the freezer for some time. While this was true of the first two uses, thereafter they acted like any other ice pack- that is, like a damn rock when you pull it out of the freezer. After talking with an Ice Horse rep, she recommended leaving the ice packs out for roughly 2o minutes before putting them on (and allowing the valve in each pack to stay uncovered in the freezer- apparently that helps the special sauce in them). This works well for us at the moment, since my rides are about that long, so I pull the ice packs out just before I get on and then they are nice and pliable when I strap them on. However, I wonder how well they will work once we are back to 30 and 40 or more minute rides.
The other secret to the boot is in the directions- sponging. The first couple times I ignored the directions and put the boot on a dry leg, and after 30 minutes the leg was only fractionally cold. So after returning to the directions, I realized the error of my ways and applied the boot to a wet leg, and voila! After about 15-20 minutes I have a nice cold leg.
Overall, I would recommend these boots to someone in a position like myself, where icing is going to be a common part of your riding regimen. They are quick to put together, and if you follow directions, do efficiently apply cold therapy in a convenient manner- Foster wears his in his stall for about 20 minutes after each ride and when strapped on tight, it doesn’t seem to slip or move.
However, if you’re really only going to be icing occasionally, like at an event or for the rare ding, for the price you could apply cold therapy another way and probably be just as effective for a lot less money, if a little less convenient.