Leg Care — Before, During and After a Race

Legs and hooves are the most important part of your horse, especially our performance horses.
How do you take care of your horse’s legs during training, before a race and after a race? This is a question that I am frequently asked. As a barrel racer, we need to make sure that our equine partners stay sound.

In 2010, Rocket got hurt at a barrel race. It was our first race since I’d been home from college, we both were rusty and the weather sucked. We came into the arena for run without a proper warm up because the outdoor arena was flooded, it was raining and the covered round pen was occupied. We lined up for our first barrel and as Rocket turned it, something did feel right, but we finished our run.

As we walked out of the arena, I thought it was his shoulder that he had strained going into that first barrel. I applied poultice to the shoulder and upper leg, put his blanket on and loaded him in the trailer. I wasn’t expecting what I found the next morning when I went down to feed. Rocket had bowed a tendon on his left front leg. I didn’t do a lot with him for it other than I let him be a horse and wonder around in the pasture with the other horses. No vet was contacted and when we started running the next year, my vet as extremely surprised at how it healed. Looking back on that experience, I would have done a few things different, especially with the knowledge I have gained out the last several years.

When I started bring Rocket back in 2012, I took extra care with his legs. As part of our routine now, I start by putting Back on Track quick wrap boots on all four legs and BOT hock boots on his hocks. The BOT boots are excellent for hauling in the trailer and protecting the legs as we
haul.

When we get to a barrel race, I go through the following steps:

  1. BOT books stay on while saddling and until I am ready to warm-up
  2. Aculife patches are applied to his hocks and other sore areas
  3. I recently started using the RES sport boots (previously used the Professionals Choice Elites) on the front legs and polo wraps on his hind legs with bells in front.
  4. A good warm up before we run with lots of trotting and some loping of circles.

Post-race routine consists of the following:

  1. Pull boots and polo wraps and rub down legs
  2. Apply Cool Cast poultice wraps, quilt leg wraps and standing wraps
  3. If it is a multi-day race, BOT boots go on the hind legs
  4. Poultice is applied to the hind legs from just above the hocks all the way down to the fetlocks (I let the poultice on the hind legs dry and don’t wrap the hind legs)

I have been running Rocket consistently for the last 4 years using these steps and he has stayed absolutely sound. These steps will continue to be used as ride different horses for the rest of my career.

Keeping horses sound is an integral part of our success. Without legs and hooves, we have no horse!

What do you do to keep your horses sound and running at their best? Tell us in the comments!

 

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