Friday, July 06, 2012

Caught in the Time Warp Again

The Horse | Researching Horse Boots

 Professionals Choice - VenTECH Elite Sports Medicine Boots
ee these cool PC SMB’s?  I bought a whole set last fall after two horses pulled suspensories in the slickness that was Hurricane Irene’s leftovers. I wrote a really positive review of them mostly because they are so velcro-sticky that I could slap them on Zip as he trotted past me in the pasture.  

Classic Equine Polo Wraps
See these nifty polo wraps?  I have them in three colors and two densities.  I bought them for the same purpose as the SMB's.  Zip loves having leg wraps put on.  I don't know why.  All the horses seem to love it.  I use them sporadically, mostly for rehab but sometimes because I've taken pity on poor Leo's ancient legs and I'm about to ask him to do six-inch cross rails again.  

So what's my gripe today?  My basic maladjustment is that the research keeps screwing with my management plans.  It would make me very happy if all the research about all the horse issues that might ever crop up could be done at once--this week, if possible--so I can stop discovering that I've once again taken the wrong approach and endangered the very animal I was trying to protect.  It's a lot like parenting, this whole horse life thing.
I LOVE this stuff!  I use gallons of it.  Gob it on
and the heat and swelling go away, and your
poor arthritic fingers feel better and smell minty fresh.

The article above (since you're obviously not reading it) says that the heat produced by leg wrapping and booting causes the horse to exert so much extra effort that it is actually detrimental to the horses' ability to move, tires him out, and makes him more likely to ask for an iPod for his birthday because he won't ever want to leave his paddock again.  

 As I said, I bought these items for a reason.  Zip and Dakota both fell prey to the "greasy dirt" left behind by Irene and her buddy Lee, and both pulled suspensories one right after the other.  After stall rest and prior to a return to real exercise, some support seemed in order.  The SMB's (that's Professional's Choice Elite Sports Medicine Boots, in case you didn't know) were the first line of defense because they are extremely supportive, mold to the horse's leg after a couple of wearings, and offer support along the length of the forearm and under the pastern.  The booting worked wonders, and the swelling in both horses was reduced rapidly by a few days' use with cold hosing before application and Cool Pack green jelly under the boots.

Once both horses were on the mend and ready for a little more exercise than their gorging on hay was affording them, the boots came off and I went to the polo wraps.  Why?  Because I know how to use polo wraps.  That gave me a very warm feeling that I couldn't be doing anything to hurt the Boyz worse than they had hurt themselves.  I was taught how to wrap by someone really good at it, and though I'm not an expert, I'm competent.

Since that episode, I kind of fell into the boot/wrap routine and had been using one or the other religiously...until I read the article above.  Of course I'm never one to take research at face value, so I had to take my new learning experience to the Advisory Council for a vote.  Leo isn't much of a complainer.  He'd probably be fine with sandpaper on his legs.  Dakota opted out of voting because ESPN had a rodeo on.  Zip had his hoof raised the minute he heard there was a voting option.

Zip is a born communicator.  Some of my readers are familiar with Zip's little balking issue.  He can slam on the brakes and plant all four and become completely immobile fast enough to cause whiplash.  We'd been getting past all that nicely thanks to some sage advice from a brilliant horseman who pointed out it was all my fault (I like him anyway) right until Zip injured his leg.  After he'd recovered and we'd started working a little again, I noticed he was more forward but spent an awful lot of time pausing to rub his nose on his foreleg.  

Dakota being a Good Boy.  His response to the boot vs wrap question?
"No give me a cookie."

Of course I assumed the problem was in his nose, and I put various bug repellents, salves, and nets on to solve it.  Nothing worked.  

Nothing worked because he wasn't rubbing his nose on his leg; he was rubbing his boot with his mouth.  I realized this when I saw what I thought was blood on the front of the white boots and later determined was Manna Pro cookie residue.  Could it be, I wondered, that he really wasn't loving the boots anymore?  Or ever?  

The next day I rode without them.  What ho!  No halting, no nose-rubbing, just normal riding (that's Zip-normal, not normal-normal).  

Now, I don't have the fancy equipment to measure the heat build-up in his lower legs with and without boots or wraps or determine his perception of the amount of work he's being asked to do, but I'm going to venture that possibly there's a little discomfort involved in the wearing thereof.  He was never particularly vocal about the cheap open-front jumping boots we used for years, so maybe the open front allowed enough ventilation to prevent the need to complain.  I intend to dig up those old boots and do another comparison ride, just for jollies.  If it feels like more work than it should be, Zip will be the first to let me know. 

Meanwhile, read and heed the article.  Especially if you've got a guy like Zip under you, less irritation is always better than more.  I like to give him every opportunity to succeed in the way I define success, which is limited compared to my competitive-rider friends, but success nonetheless.  

Ride On!

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