After every workout, examine your horse for leg swelling or lameness, and monitor resting heart rate, rectal temperature, appetite,
attitude and general demeanor. Ice boots (or cold water hosing)
help limit inflammation in the lower legs when applied for 30 to
40 minutes after a strenuous work effort.
Following cold therapy, bandaging the legs, with or without
poultice, may be useful for horses that tend to develop
windpuffs. If leg swelling does develop, then it is likely that
the horse is being asked too much for his level of fitness and
Tapering down the training effort—a steady reduction in
training intensity but not necessarily a change in training
volume—for a few weeks prior to competition is an addi-
tional important strategy to bring a horse to peak physical
and mental state on competition day.
With careful planning at the start of the season, you can
keep your horse mentally sharp and in peak fitness without
overdoing the physical demands on his body.
NANCY S. LOVING, DVM, is a performance horse veterinarian based
in Boulder, Colo., and is the author of All Horse Systems Go.
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