A TIME-TESTED TECH­NIQUE

EQUUS - - Eq Tack & Gear -

In horse rac­ing, a sport known for its em­brace of tra­di­tion, ic­ing horses’ legs has long been one of the more ben­e­fi­cial cus­toms. “When I was train­ing horses in the1960s and 1970s ev­ery­one had horses lined up, stand­ing in ice tubs,” says Bill Cas­ner, who has been in­volved with rac­ing as a trainer, owner (2010 Derby Win­ner Su­per Saver was one of his) and ex­ec­u­tive his en­tire life. “One of the first things we did was get them ac­cus­tomed to stand­ing there with their feet in the tubs. It’s la­bor in­ten­sive to train them to the ice tubs. Those young horses would turn over the tubs, flood the stalls, etc., but once you get them trained to it they jump right in and stay there. It prob­a­bly feels good,” he says.

Cas­ner says that cold ther­apy fell out of fa­vor a bit when med­i­ca­tions came along. “Ev­ery­one thought phenylbu­ta­zone was the an­swer to ev­ery­thing,” he says. “There are times that we do use it as a tool but, like ev­ery other drug, it has side ef­fects, and the list of side ef­fects for phenylbu­ta­zone is long. Too many horse­men are con­vinced that drugs are the an­swer. If those riders would ice their horses be­fore and af­ter they per­form, they’d run great and wouldn’t have any of the ad­verse side ef­fects like they might have with drugs.”

Rather than rely on med­i­ca­tions, Cas­ner says he never aban­doned cool­ing ther­apy. “Cold ther­apy is a won­der­ful tool,” he says. “We em­ploy this method on our own horses for re­duc­ing swelling and in­flam­ma­tion; we use very lit­tle bute, and never use it more than two days in a row. We use cold ther­apy in train­ing and as ther­apy af­ter the horses run. There are no detri­men­tal ef­fects, like you’d have with drugs.”

Cas­ner, who also has ex­pe­ri­ence with rop­ing horses, en­cour­ages own­ers of all types of ath­letic horses to em­brace ic­ing and ad­vises ap­ply­ing a bit of in­ge­nu­ity when nec­es­sary to fit it into a busy com­pe­ti­tion sched­ule. “A per­son could prob­a­bly fig­ure out a way to use ice boots or cold wa­ter ap­pli­ca­tions while they were rolling down the road haul­ing the horse to the next event,” he says.

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