Homemade ice boots for horses are a fantastic alternative to store-bought brands, especially if you have a smaller budget or need them urgently.
When used correctly, icing horse legs can help reduce inflammation, swelling, and reduce pain. (1).
However, one roadblock is the cost of purchasing the boots, which can be pretty steep.
But worry not! I have several DIY ice boots for horses that you can put together in no time!
- Use dish soap for flexible ice packs.
- Rubbing alcohol with prevent the pack from fully freezing.
- Duct tape can help secure your ice boots.
- Frozen peas a great for an emergency
Of course, if you prefer to purchase specially made boots, there are some great options you can find here: best equine ice boots.
What Do You Need For DIY Ice Boots For Horses?
To make ice boots for horses, you can easily find the materials in your home, grocery store, or barn. I’ve put together a few different options in my guide below.
Depending on which one you want to try, you will need some of the following items:
- Polo wraps
- 1-gallon heavy-duty zip lock bags
- Freezer pops sheets
- Regular dish soap; at least 90 ounces
- A clean water source such as a stream or even the sea
- Bag of frozen peas
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cut a section of the leg from a pair of jeans
- Duct tape
- An old towel
- Ice cubes
- Vet wrap
OK, now that you have a list of supplies you can use to make your cold pack, let’s take a look at the different options for homemade ice treatment.
6 Different Ways To Make Homemade Ice Boots For Horses
All of these options are pretty cool, but I’m going to talk about my favorite first.
Just a quick note as to what icing does. Boys Town National Research Hospital states that “Icing is effective at reducing pain and swelling because the cold constricts blood vessels and decreases circulation to the area.” (3)
It is an excellent option for an acute injury.
Now, let’s find the perfect DIY pair of ice boots for you!
Homemade Ice Boots Option 1
For these ice packs, you will only need three items. While the towel isn’t necessary, I find it safer to use to help prevent ice burn that can occur from direct contact with the ice pack.
- Freezer ice pop sheets
- Polo wraps
Fill the freezer pop sheets with water, water and rubbing alcohol, or dish soap; Palmolive dish soap is a good choice, but any will do the job. Keep it in the freezer, so it is ready to use at a moment’s notice. These are essentially reusable ice packs that you can stick back in the freezer after use.
I advise you to label them, so no one accidentally grabs one on a hot day! That cool, fruity treat they expected will be a rather unpleasant surprise!
Wet your towel and wrap it around your horse’s leg. Just one layer is all you need to protect the skin, and it doesn’t need to be super thick. However, wetting the towel will make cold therapy more effective.
Finally, use your polo wrap to secure the ice sheets in place. Leave it in place for 20-minutes and remove it. Don’t leave ice on too long, as it will cause a rebound effect.
When you leave ice on for more than 30-minutes, blood flow actually increases, causing heat.
That is, “If ice is applied for more than 30 minutes, it will begin to have the same effect as heat. Do not re-apply the ice for 1-2 hours,” according to the University of Notre Dame. (2)”
Horse Ice Boots Option 2
What I like about this option is that you get a flexible gel ice pack. This is what you’ll need:
- Ziplock bags
- Dish soap
- Duct tape or polo wrap
Fill your zip lock bag with dish soap, taking care to push out all the air. Smooth it out, so it is even and not too thick.
Stick the bag into the freezer for at least 2 hours. Because it is only filled with dish soap, it won’t freeze completely.
When you are ready to use it, place your wet towel on the cannon bone and then wrap your bag around it. It will be flexible, making it easier to mold to the leg. Secure it in place with a polo wrap or duct tape and leave for 20 minutes.
DIY Ice Boots Horses Option 3
I learned this cool method from a trainer I had years ago. For this, you will need the following:
- Ice cubes
- Duct tape
- A section of jeans cut from the leg
Start by wetting your towel and wrapping it around the leg injury. Next, lift your horse’s leg and slide the jeans over it. Secure the bottom with duct tape or vet wrap.
Next, hold the jeans up and fill them with ice cubes, so they sit on top of the towel. Then secure the top with more duct tape or vet wrap. When 20 minutes is up, simply remove everything and let the ice cubes slide out the bottom.
Ice Boots For Horses Option 4
This option is similar to the soap ice pack. For this, you will need the following:
- Large, heavy-duty zip-lock bags
- Rubbing alcohol
- Polowrap or duct tape
Fill your back with ⅔ water and ⅓ rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol will prevent the cold pack from freezing completely, making it easier to apply to the horse’s leg.
Leave it in the freezer for a couple of hours before use. Wrap it around the leg, over your wet towel, and secure it in place with a polo wrap of tape.
Homemade Ice Packs For Horses Option 5
You’re probably familiar with this method and have used it yourself. If stuck for something to ice your horse’s legs, head to the freezer. You will need the following:
- A bag of frozen peas or other small vegetables
- Tape or polo wrap
Grab your peas (best to label the bag so it can be reused and not eaten accidentally!). Place the peas over the wet towel on the leg and secure them in place with your wrap or tape. Take it all off after 20 minutes.
DIY Horse Leg Cooling Option 6
OK, this isn’t exactly making ice boots, but it is a great way to apply cold therapy if you have access.
If you have a safe, fairly shallow stream or creek, or access to the sea, standing your horse is moving, cold water is a fantastic type of cold therapy.
I’m lucky I have this option and have used it myself. The water is cold, which helps with swelling and inflammation with the added bonus of a gentle massage. It is more effective, in my opinion, than cold hosing.
So long as your horse is happy to stand in the water, this is an excellent method.
Cold therapy is one of the best methods for treating leg injuries at any time of the year. Check my article on the benefits of ice boots for horses to learn more.
Here is another simple way to ice your horse’s legs with a cold pack you can get from the drugstore.
How long do you leave ice boots on a horse?
Leave ice boots on a horse for no less than 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes at a time. Longer than 30 minutes actually causes heat and is not beneficial for inflammation.
How can I ice my horse’s legs without ice boots?
To ice your horse’s legs without ice boots, you can make your own DIY option by picking one of the options here in my guide.
Should I ice my horse’s hocks?
Yes, absolutely! Icing hocks can help with inflammation, swelling, and soreness. It is a little more tricky to ice hocks due to their shape, but with a little creativity, you can do this, even with DIY options.
I hope you love my homemade ice boots for horses as much as I do. They are cheap but very effective ways to apply cold therapy if you don’t have the budget for commercial ice boots or need something quickly.
There are many reasons why you should ice your horse’s legs. It can help with injury prevention after a hard workout and reduce the damage caused after an acute injury.
All horse owners should learn how to use ice therapy correctly.
So, which method are you going to try, then? Let us know in the comments how it goes!
- 1. Cold Therapy & Ice Bandages | AAEP [Internet]. aaep.org. [cited 2022 Oct 28]. Available from: https://aaep.org/issue/cold-therapy-ice-bandages
- 2. R.I.C.E. [Internet]. University of Notre Dame. University Health Services; [cited 2022 Oct 28]. Available from: https://uhs.nd.edu/assets/165789/rice_11_526k.pdf
- 3. Injury: Do I Use Ice or Heat? [Internet]. www.boystownhospital.org. Available from: https://www.boystownhospital.org/knowledge-center/injury-use-ice-heat
Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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