Study: Leg Boots And Wraps May Increase Soft Tissue Temperatures, Increasing Injury Risk - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Study: Leg Boots And Wraps May Increase Soft Tissue Temperatures, Increasing Injury Risk

While many horses wear leg boots or wraps when working to prevent injury, recent studies report that these boots may increase the temperature leg temperature and harm the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), reports The Horse

Researchers from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) created a study to determine whether different leg wraps increase the temperature of the leg during exercise. Graduate student Luke Brock explained that the equine lower limb has little muscle below the knee and hock, so it cools itself by taking the heat away from the skin's surface. Using a boot or bandage to the leg creates an insulating effect, which can harm the SDFT. 

Heat dissipation depends on leg protection design and application, material permeability, heat produced during exercise, temperature and humidity outside, and rate of ambient air exchange. The MTSU research team compared six types of leg protection: a neoprene boot, perforated neoprene boots,  plant-based neoprene boots, cross-country boots, elastic track bandages, and fleece polo wraps. 

Each horse wore each type of boot over six exercise sessions, which involved 20 minutes of work followed by 180 minutes of standing recovery. Each horse wore one boot on a foreleg; the other leg served as a control. A special tool was used to measure limb temperature and humidity every minute the horse wore the boot.

The team discovered that the leg not wearing any boot had the lowest temperature. The fleece polo wrap caused the most heat and humidity buildup. All limbs wearing boots rose to temperatures that could harm tendon cells. None of the treated limbs returned to their baseline temperature after the recovery period. 

The researchers determined the limb's cooling ability is impaired by boots and wraps, which can damage the SDFT. Before applying boots, the team recommends riders consider the intensity of the workload, the ambient temperature, boot design and material, and how the horse goes. 

If a horse wears leg protection, it's best to remove it as soon as possible once the horse is done working, then cold horse the legs, they conclude.

Read more at The Horse

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