“What is your leg care routine?” – Alenna S. via Facebook
Knowing your horse’s legs inside and out is paramount when looking after any horse. Daily checking of legs should be undertaken so that any abnormalities, from the slightest boot rub to a large laceration can be detected quickly and any further issues be put at bay by dealing with the injury correctly.
My daily routine involves a quick check of the legs when I bring the horses in from the paddock. If no shoes are missing and there are no obvious injuries then they get left to eat breakfast. Once they are on cross ties, I first pick out feet and make sure shoes are still in place and not slightly sprung. Before starting to groom I run my hands down both the front and back of their legs. I am looking for the following:
- Unusual swelling
- Thickening of tendons
- Boot rubs
- Start of fungus
Assuming all is normal, legs are curried and brushed. Boots or polos are used for exercise. After exercise, if legs are dry, they are checked for any boot rubs and abnormalities, if all ok they are then brushed. Should the legs be dirty then they get washed and toweled dry. I do not daily shampoo legs as I feel this strips the natural qualities from the skin. However if some sort of skin issue has occurred, for example fungus, then legs would be washed with either one of the following…..
Anytime a horse can hand graze dry before being returned to the stall is the best option. The quicker the legs become dry, there is less time for an environment to materialize that’s conducive to fungus!
Different factors effect how I care for the legs after exercise:
- Level of horse, e.g. novice or advanced
- Turn out during day or night
- Amount of work done, flat or gallop etc
- Known issues e.g. horse stocks up when stabled at night
After a jump school, I use some form of tightening product to massage into the tendons. Sore No More is my favorite, however a less expensive product such as witch hazel can be effective also. Intermediate and advanced horses get standing wraps on front legs whilst in their stalls. Once I have put on the liniment I then shake on some baby powder. This helps to dry the leg a little under the wrap, helping avoid skin irritation or fungal growth. If horse is on night turnout the standing wraps come off.
After a gallop, horses front legs are iced for 30 mins. There are many ways to ice, for me personally the most effective way are the whirlpool boots (I do not use the motor). If the horse dislikes these, I will then use tubi grip, placing the ice in between the folded stocking. I will then secure it in place with a polo wrap. After icing, legs are dried, checked for any obvious abnormalities, poulticed with up tite clay poultice and then wrapped.
Obviously this is only scratching the surface on leg care. There are many leg issues that need to be handled in different ways. If in doubt call your vet. Feel free to ask me a question if you have a specific issue on leg care!