Icing Hooves in Times of Laminitis

A club member lamented to me today that her horse, diagnosed with laminitis, would NOT keep her feet in the buckets long enough for the ice and cold water to help her hooves.  So here’s a tip that may help others:  

  • Find a big pair of jeans–it helps if you have a large husband who’s not in the house at the time, so you can steal them without getting caught.
  • Cut the jeans’ legs off just below the crotch.
  • Carefully slide one jeans’ leg on each of your horse’s front legs (repeat with a second pair of jeans if needed for the rear legs).
  • Drape the bottom of the pants leg over the hoof but off the ground. Tie off at the fetlock, just above the hoof.  Leave enough slack in your loop that the horse can move and the jeans won’t chafe, but not so loosely that the ice that you’re going to pour into the leg will slip out the bottom.
  • Use a pair of suspenders (also swiped from the husband) to hang the jeans legs on the horse.  Run the suspenders from the top of each pants leg (closest to the horse) up across the horse’s withers and down to the other pants leg.  You may also use a wide, soft lead rope, a belt, or anything else that is wide and soft enough to avoid putting too much pressure on the withers.  If the weather is cool enough, put a blanket on your horse and attach the jeans’ legs to the blanket. 
  • Since only one side of the top of the jeans’ leg is attached, the other side should gape widely enough that you can gently pour ice into it.  Use enough that the lower part of the leg is adequately cooled.  As the ice melts, the cold water will soak in to the lowest part of the jeans leg and drip onto and over the hoof.

Keep in mind that you will still have to stay with the horse to monitor the situation and add ice as needed.  Be prepared for your horse to get very cold (think of having your legs submerged in ice water), so you may want to have a blanket handy to make him more comfortable.  The picture below doesn’t show the jeans cut in half, but by leaving them in one piece you run the risk of them binding (and perhaps panicking) your horse.  And we hope you NEVER need to use this tip!

Horse wearing jeans

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