Horses can get wear and tear on their joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and soft tissues from everyday activities, exercise, competitions, or those unfortunate injuries that can happen when you least expect it. Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, has been used by horsemen for decades as a way to cool down tissues, reduce inflammation and swelling, reduce pain, and slow down the inflammatory enzyme response that can damage tissue after an injury.

Cold therapy for horses also works as a preventative when used after exercise as it can keep inflammation at bay. There are many ways to use cold therapy for horses from standing your horse in buckets of ice, cold-hosing, or using modern-day cold therapy products. In this guide, we will break down the different situations when you might want to use cold therapy and how you can use various cold therapy products available to treat and prevent injuries in your horse’s legs.

Cold Therapy for Horses Explained

Traditionally, “cold-hosing” your horse’s legs for 20-minutes or standing them in a tub of icy water has been the go-to method for cold therapy. While using a slurry of ice and water in a large tub or bucket is the “gold standard” for many horsemen and veterinarians, the practicality of getting your horse or pony to willingly stand in a bucket of ice isn’t always easy or ideal depending on the situation. Thankfully, there are an assortment of horse soaking boots, ice boots, and other cold therapy products for horses that can make icing your horses legs even easier while also being convenient enough that you can do it while traveling to shows and competitions.

The Effects and Benefits of Cold Therapy for Horses

Cold therapy for horses has many benefits as it is truly something that you can do in nearly any situation and it can bring relief to your horse or help prevent a problem. There are three main reasons to use cold therapy for your horse.

  1. Treating a New Injury
    For acute injuries, or within 48-hours of the onset of the injury or swelling, such as when you can see an actively hot or swollen leg, using cold therapy such as cold-hosing, standing in ice water, or using ice boots will reduce inflammation and reduce pain. Cold therapy during the acute stage of an injury will immediately reduce the inflammatory enzyme response and treat the damaged blood vessels in the area that can leak fluid; resulting in more swelling and pain to the area. Rotating cold therapy for 20 minutes on, then thirty minutes off, during the first 36 hours after an injury is the most critical window for reducing that inflammatory process after any type of injury.

  2. Rehabbing an Injury
    During the rehabilitation process of an injury, which could be days or months, continuing to use cold therapy as little as once a day for a quick 20 minute sessions can play a huge role in how quickly and successfully an injury heals. Outside of the acute-stage, using cold therapy can help increase circulation, bringing the helpful white blood cells into the area to encourage healing. Cold therapy during rehab also helps reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain.

  3. Preventing Injuries
    Once your injury has healed and you begin turning your horse out again, getting them back to work, or back in the show ring, using cold therapy for a 20 minute session can help keep any flare ups of inflammation and swelling under control while your horse starts using those muscles, tendons, or ligaments again. You can also use cold therapy as prevention if your horse has not had an injury, by using a cold therapy boot or wrap after exercise as a way to help your horse recover faster and reduce the risk of injury.

How long should you ice or cold horse a horse's leg for?

Knowing how long you should ice your horse’s legs, or cold hose your horse’s legs, depends on what type of injury you are trying to treat. For a new injury, it is recommended to use cold therapy for 20-minutes on, with at least 30-minute breaks in between each ice session, multiple times per day, during the first 36-48 hours of an injury happening. During the rehab process or as prevention, a 20 minute session once per day is very effective.

The only time you would want to ice your horse for more continuous periods is if your horse is in the acute stage of laminitis or founder; which is typically the first 72-hours from the onset of symptoms or the cause of the episode. In those cases, you will want to use ice buckets, ice boots or hoof soaking boots filled with ice, around the clock for 3 days. This process has been proven to help greatly reduce risks of more permanent severe damage such as significant rotation or sinking of the coffin bone as compared to horses that are not iced continuously during this acute stage of laminitis or founder.

Cold Therapy Products for Your Horse

Cold hosing is one of the most common and easily accessible options to cool down the horse’s leg but it is also the most time consuming, may not get their legs or feet as cold as other methods can, and sometimes cold hosing just isn’t feasible especially in the winter months. While getting your horse to stand in a bucket filled with ice will quickly reduce their tissue temperature, most horses do not cooperate and it can become ineffective and frustrating. Thankfully, there are many cold therapy products for horses to choose from that are designed to be effective and much easier for you to use on your horse no matter where you go.


Using cold therapy on your horse’s legs is even easier than you think with the assortment of ice boots, ice wraps, and soaking boots available. If you want to cool down your horse’s legs but getting them to stand in a giant tub of ice water isn’t exactly on your agenda, using cold therapy boots and wraps are just what you need!

Dura-Tech® Neoprene Ice Boots

Dura-Tech® Neoprene Ice Boots still allows you to fill the boots with ice for that frigid cold effect, while your horse can stand quietly in their stall or cross-ties with the ability to move around so you can go about your barn chores rather than trying to keep your horse contained in a bucket of ice water.

Cooling Gel Wraps

Dura-Tech® Cooling Gel Wraps are a must-have item for your barn as you can keep them in the freezer year-round, having them on-hand and ready at a moment's notice. These cold therapy wraps work like a flexible ice-pack, coming in different sizes with stretchy hook and loop closures so that you can adjust the fit and shape, working perfectly on different sized legs, the hock, or even a human! Bad knee? Why not share your horse’s ice boots!

Thermacool Hot/Cold Therapy Boots

Dura-Tech® Thermacool Hot/Cold Therapy Boots are a multi-function therapy boot that can be kept in the freezer for cold therapy to treat new injuries, pain, and swelling, or warmed up in the microwave for warm-therapy to soothe sore muscles or arthritis.

 Hot N’ Cold Wrap

Gel Eze™ Hot N’ Cold Wrap is a unique, reusable gel style wrap that conforms around your horse’s leg, hocks, knees, ankles. You simply soak the wrap in cold water or keep in the refrigerator or freezer, apply to the leg, and then cover with a polo wrap or vet wrap for up to 30 minutes to cool the leg. You can also put the wrap in warm water to add heat to tight muscles.

Coolaid Icing Cooling Leg Wraps

Coolaid™ Icing & Cooling Leg Wraps help keep your horse’s legs nice and cool after exercise without needing to use bulky ice boots. To use, you just wet the wrap in cold water, wring out any excess, and either place it in the freezer for a bit or inside a cooler with ice water, then wrap the legs just like you would a polo wrap or bandage. These wraps stay cold for 10-minute sessions.


As they say, no hoof no horse. Taking care of your horse’s hooves when it comes to requiring soaking or cold therapy for ailments such as laminitis, founder, or hoof abscesses, can be much more effective with hoof boots designed to get the job done without a fight. Many horses object to standing quietly in buckets of water for soaking, which usually just ends up with the buckets being spilled and owners getting frustrated with the process. These products will make icing or soaking your horse’s feet so much easier!

Cooling Gel Leg and Hoof Wrap

Dura-Tech® Cooling Gel Leg and Hoof Wrap saves you time when treating injuries or as prevention after your ride. Simply keep the wrap in the freezer and it will be ready anytime you need some cold therapy without the need to lug around ice or supervise your horse while cold-hosing. This cold therapy wrap covers the whole leg and hoof!

Leg and Hoof Soaking Boot

Dura-Tech® Leg and Hoof Soaking Boot are one of those products that every horse owner should keep on hand. Whether you need to soak your horse’s hoof for an abscess or stone bruise, or ice their feet during a laminitic episode, these boots make it so easy! Simply fill the boot with water or ice and secure it in place with the hook and loop strap. Your horse can happily munch on their hay or take a nap in the cross-ties while they soak.

Jacks Whirlpool Boots with Compressor

Jacks Whirlpool Boots with Compressor combines soaking all the way up over your horse’s knees with aeration hydrotherapy. These boots can be used with either hot or cold water, while the compressor system aerates the water around the cornet band to help reduce swelling and aid in injury recovery.

Dura-Tech Leg and Hoof Soaking Boots

Dura-Tech® Leg and Hoof Soaking Boots are perfect for dealing with the inflammation of tendons, abscesses, bruises, or hot feet. Just add ice, water, and soak! Icing is a key part of rehabilitating your horse back to health if they have an injury or swelling, and this boot makes it easy!

Stifle, Hocks, and Back

If your horse has an injury to their stifle, hock, or back, it can be tricky trying to use cold therapy on those areas. These cold therapy wraps are designed to fit perfectly around the stifle or hock on a horse, staying in place, and relieving inflammation, pain, and swelling from those areas.

Stifle Ice Wraps

Dura-Tech® Stifle Ice Wraps use a soft, flexible neoprene wrap to secure ice packs over the stifle joints. The wrap uses a soft strap that goes over the horse’s back to keep the wrap from slipping down off the stifles.

Coolaid Icing & Cooling Hock Wraps

Coolaid Icing & Cooling Hock Wraps can help ease swelling and soreness in your horse’s hocks with these easy to use cooling wraps. You can either freeze them or use ice water to cool them down before wrapping your horse’s hocks and allowing them to sit for 10 minutes, reducing inflammation and heat from the hocks without bulky ice boots.

Ice Horse Back Blanket

Ice Horse® Back Blanket makes it easy to use cold therapy on your horse’s back from their withers and shoulder blades down over the Sacroiliac joint, or areas of Kissing Spine pain. Reusable cold pack inserts stay cold for over two hours!

Finding the best cold therapy options for your horse is easy with so many styles of products designed to be affordable, effective, and convenient. Every barn set-up is different. Some have access to a freezer that can store ice boots while maybe you prefer something that you can just use cold water or pick up your own bags of ice. No matter what type of cold therapy product you choose for your horse, always consult with your veterinarian to ensure you are treating the injury properly and under their guidance.

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