Cold Weather Leg Wrapping

Q. In temperatures below 15 degrees I wrap my horses' lower legs in fleece-lined boots at night, as they are prone to laminitis and I hope it will aid circulation as well as keep them warm. They seldom go into the barn, even in very cold temps. Do you think this helps them, or what would you suggest during winter?

via e-mail

A. : I don't think you will do any harm by wrapping your horses’ legs, but I do think it’s more beneficial due to the support it gives the soft tissues, such as the tendons, rather than aiding circulation. Because horses have a natural perfusion mechanism, they can adjust their temperature using blood vessel dilation and constriction to stay warm.

Also, researchers have proven that cryotherapy (cold therapy) does help ameliorate some of the factors that can cause laminitis, so a horse standing in colder temperatures (e.g., ice water, ground snow) might actually be beneficial.

About the Author

Raul Bras, DVM, CJF

Raul Bras, DVM, CJF, is a podiatrist and shareholder at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, where he sees a variety of foot and lameness-related cases. He graduated from Cornell University's farrier school in 2007 and became a certified farrier in 2009 and a certified journeyman farrier in 2010.

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