Are you doing everything you can to look after your horses’ legs…after all, where would you be without them?
What you do after a workout plays a major part in both short term recovery and long term soundness, and taking the heat out of their legs is a key factor.
It’s a practice WA Equestrian Eve Jarvis swears by. Along with partner Rick Dabner, she runs ‘Team Equistar’, show jumping at the elite level as well breaking in, training, running clinics and breeding.
Eve believes healthy legs are fundamental to a horse’s ability to perform well, recover quickly and stay sound and she has the horses to prove it! Read on for Eve’s tips on the best way to look after legs and her favourite product for doing so.
*Why is it so important to take care of the legs?
Horses aren’t designed very well. From the knees down, there’s really not much protection for their tendons, ligaments and joints but by knowing my horses’ legs, paying attention to them and applying a few simple practices, I can generally identify and treat problems before they affect their performance, soundness and attitude towards work.
*What are some of the practices you use?
It’s a combination of the way we do things and the products we use. Even when a horse has finished its workout, the temperature of the tendons keeps going up so we’re mindful of that in regards to using boots. They’re the last item of tack I put on and the first thing I take off afterwards. A heat stressed tendon is easily damaged so we spend a fair bit of time on the legs when we’re hosing off and we have a bottle of CoolingGEL hanging at the wash bay. It takes about two minutes to squeeze some onto your hands and rub into each leg.
*How did you discover CoolingGEL and what do you like about it?
I’ve lived in Australia for years but am originally from the UK where we used an ice gel that isn’t available here. It used to be a rule that any visiting friends or family members brought some over with them. I’d never found anything like it in Australia until our Kelato rep Neryl visited the property and left me with a sample. It’s actually a better product by far than the one from the UK. I love that it has Camphor in it and I would never be without it now. It’s absolutely my favourite product ever.
*How do you use CoolingGEL?
We use it on all horses after their workout and that doesn’t just mean jumping at a competition. At home, canter workouts play a big part in getting our horses fit and afterwards we hose them down and apply CoolingGEL.
Even a horse being broken in will have CoolingGEL applied. The first time you are getting a young horse ready to be ridden or compete, you’re putting an immense, new type of pressure on their young legs. Like a bodybuilder, a steady increase in work means the tissues in their legs suffer some damage, they repair and they get stronger. Getting the heat out of their legs is paramount to avoid inflammation and keep them healthy.
*How do you know CoolingGEL works?
We are generally jumping up to seven horses at each event and haven’t lost a day of competition due to lameness all season. At comps, the horses do a lot of standing around in small yards for two or three days and when they’re jumping they’re doing courses of up to a metre thirty; you can imagine the force going through their legs when landing after a jump. They’re at significant risk of damage, so looking after them is just common sense.
*What advice do you give your students about leg care?
From the very beginning, we instil in our students how vital it is to take care of the horses’ legs, from cooling procedures to protective wear to the correct way to bandage. I think all horse owners should consider the legs a priority and really pay attention to them. The smallest thing like a bump or a raised patch of hair can be an early indication of injury and shouldn’t be ignored.
*Who would you recommend CoolingGEL to?
Everyone! Not just competition riders or those jumping big jumps but anyone who rides a horse. Awareness and education are key factors in maintaining leg health which is vital for horses to stay sound. CoolingGEL is the quickest, easiest way to take heat out of the legs and relieve any swelling or soreness, I’m so thankful to have discovered it, as are my friends and family in the UK who no longer have to lug kilos of other product with them on trips down under!