As the new year starts, we are off to many races, I get the questions often about leg wraps, liniments and poultices. To use them or not?
For starters, one of the most important considerations is that your trailer is safe and comfortable for your horse. Have you checked the trailer floor underneath the mats recently, to see what kind of condition it is in? If it is a steel trailer, are there any places that are beginning to rust that could be dangerous to your horse? Check the door latches and hinges to be sure they are in good working condition and no water leaks in when it rains. Are the tires in good shape? When was the last time the brakes were checked and the bearings packed? Do all the trailer lights work properly? These are all things that need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure the safety of your horse.
When hauling, we offer our horses a drink of water about every four hours. You may want to carry water from home with you to encourage him to drink.
To keep your horse eating and drinking, be sure that you maintain the same feeding schedule and routine. Keep your water and feed buckets clean and hang them at a comfortable level for your horse. We even start using buckets at home so that your horse is used to them. Take enough hay and whatever else you feed so you won’t have to switch brands in the middle of a trip if at all possible.
As far as leg wraps go, I generally don’t use them unless there is a problem. If I have a horse that climbs the walls or fights in the trailer, I may use shipping boots that are made specifically for hauling horses. There is no doubt that the worst place you can cut, bruise, or injure a horse in any manner is below the knees or hocks. Wrapping the legs is to keep them from getting skinned up or stepping on themselves in the trailer. But remember, shipping boots should only be applied tight enough to stay on – not so tight that they restrict blood flow.
I do not use a polo wrap or standing bandages unless I am using a quilted or cotton fiberfill leg wrap underneath. Alone, these are easy to apply wrong, causing extreme pressure on the horses legs. It is very important to give his legs the best care.
As far as rubs and liniments go, be careful not to use a strong brace or liniment prior to putting on boots as you can blister or irritate the horse’s legs. There are a large number of liniments and braces on the market that are good and safe to use. We use LAME AWAY. Running cold water on the horse’s legs is another way to reduce heat and swelling.
Every barrel racer should carry a poultice in the trailer. LAME AWAY MUD is my favorite one of these. Poultices provide extra relief from muscle soreness and fatigue due to overexertion. A poultice will really pull out swelling and soreness. You just apply it and wash it off the next day.
Keeping our horses comfortable will produce better barrel runs. Believe me.
Until next month, God Bless and Happy New Year!