I’ve been dying to try the Ice Vibe Boots from Horseware almost since the day they came out on the shelf of my local Dover. This is not an exaggeration. Therefore, when I was presented with the opportunity to try them and review them, my immediate answer was yes of course. Since I’ve had them, they’ve quickly worked their way into my regular equine therapy repertoire and probably won’t ever leave.
The basic idea of these boots is to offer a combination of cooling and massage therapy to the horse’s legs. The ice packs slow down blood flow to prevent swelling, while the vibration effectively encourages lymph to move, thereby draining inflammation and stimulating repair to damaged tissue.
You can use the boots with or without the ice packs, and before or after exercise, all to great effect. Using the boots with just vibration before exercise can help reduce the risk of injury, as increasing blood flow to the tendons and ligaments using the vibration makes them more elastic. On the other side of the spectrum, using them for rehabilitating an already damaged tendon or ligament is also achieved more quickly with daily therapy.
I tried the Ice Vibe X-Full boots, which offer the most coverage from right below the knee all the way down under the fetlock. You can also get the same great product in the form of knee wraps or hock wraps. For horses with joint stiffness, these are an excellent option, and you can even integrate warm packs with massage into your therapy repertoire.
So, in your Ice Vibe bag you get two boots, two cold packs, two integrated vibrating panels, and a battery charger with four universal adapters (for your international lifestyle, when you go to Badminton and still need your Ice Vibe Boots). The vibrating panels charge on a USB port, so you can even charge them on your computer or in your truck at a show, which is super convenient. They charge up really quickly, in just a few hours, and last for six uses per charge.
When you unfold the boots, you can see that there are four pockets to choose from when you insert your vibrating panel. This enables you to specifically choose an area of the leg that you would like to focus on, if, for instance, there is an interest in boosting circulation to an old or current injury. The vibrating panels have three settings: setting 1 is the lowest frequency vibration, and turns off after 10 minutes, setting 2 is slightly higher level of vibration and lasts twenty minutes, and setting three is for exceptionally large boned horses or a situation with a lot of old excess scar tissue.
The ice packs are some of the nicest I have come across, because when you freeze them, they don’t become literal blocks of ice that are impossible to mold to the shape of the horse’s leg. They stay cold for up to 40 minutes, and a soft and pliable enough that you can really get a good fit around the leg of the horse, providing top notch coverage and no gaps. No need to crack and smash and stamp on them to get them to fit around the leg.
The boots themselves go directly over the ice packs, which independently velcro onto the leg, so you can be assured that they stay in place. The boots are extremely durable, as you might expect from Horseware, and they have four very sturdy velcro straps that go straight, and one that loops around and under the feltlock.
Once these boots are strapped into place, you can activate the vibrating panels on the setting of your choice, and go about your activities. This is one of the great advantages of these boots; you can literally set it and forget it. You can put your horse in the stall, in the cross ties, in the trailer, and these boots will continue to provide therapy while you tend to other stuff in the barn for 20 minutes.
Overall, these boots are incredibly easy to use, effective, multi-functional, and well designed. There is a reason why top riders worldwide swear by them, including Michael Jung, Carl Hester and Phillip Dutton. Horseware is, above all others, a brand that I personally trust to the hilt, and after trying these boots as well as reading testimonials from many top riders in every discipline, I can only give these Ice Vibe Boots a review of two thumbs up.