Is cold hosing better than ice packs for cold therapy on my horse?
So much of what we do with our horses is dependent on time and resources and convenience! So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of ice therapy versus cold hosing. You may find that they are both possibilities, depending on what your horse needs at any particular moment! But first - why would you need to do either of these things?
Ice packs give you free hands!
Cold therapies are great for lots of horse related things - mostly reducing inflammation and removing heat from your horse’s legs, back, neck, you name it. This inflammation occurs after an injury (ouch) and also in the course of any given day while you are riding. “Wear and tear” happens over time, and the tiny bits of heat and inflammation that your horse’s body accrues is real.. just ask my knees and shoulder.
The cold hose method - get comfortable in the wash rack! Reliable, and accessible for most horse peeps.
Cold therapies also help to remove pain - think about when you sprain an ankle and have throbbing reduced with an ice pack, or you are the pitcher for your local baseball team and nothing helps that shoulder more than ice.
Cold therapies also help with general healing and reduce the soreness after exercise by helping the body rid itself of inflammation. Think about doing a strenuous round of exercise and having trouble walking, squatting, lifting the next day. Cold therapies help that post exercise soreness vaporize.
For horses… you have lots of options to accomplish this mission…
Cold hosing… This can be totally convenient, or a total pain in the horse’s butt. It’s accessible for barns that don’t have freezers, and for one area on your horse at a time it’s great. But if you need to cold hose all four legs, that’s 80 minutes of standing in the wash rack not being able to do other things. You also may not have the coldest water, many wells and springs have warmish water. You are also stuck if you need to cold hose your horse’s back or neck, and it’s winter, and then you have a wet horse.
Ice packs - great if you have a freezer, and you can do chores while your horse cools!
Ice packs… These are great, if you have a freezer at the barn, or you carry them in a cooler daily. Ice pack systems save time, but there is an initial outlay of dollars. You will also need to purchase refill ice packs at some point, which can be forgotten when you go to the tack shop, just ask my keys. But, using ice packs can reach those hard to hose places, and can free up significant time to do other chores at the barn or even just hang out more with your horse.
What works for you?