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One of the more interesting scientific papers presented at the American Association of Equine Practitioners annual meeting in San Diego, Calif., in late November dealt with using hot and cold therapy when treating lameness cases.
Presented by Kansas State University equine veterinarian Allison Worster, the study was of special interest to farriers in the audience since cold therapy is recommended in treating certain laminitis cases by Australian researcher Chris Pollitt.
In fact, sticking the feet of laminitic horses in an ice bath appears to do a considerable amount of good in dropping hoof temperatures for treating acute laminitis cases.
In the Kansas study, one of the front feet on each of a half dozen horses was placed in a 117 degree F. heated water bath or an ice water bath with a temperature of 40 degrees F. for 30 minutes. The opposite front foot was left untreated for comparison purposes.
Nuclear scientigraphy was performed before, during and after the hot and cold therapy to assess the vascular and soft-tissue perfusion (passage of fluid through the blood vessels) of the hoof in response to the various treatments.
The cold treatment decreased soft tissue perfusion in the hoof to 80.5 percent of pre-cooled values. Some 30 minutes after discontinuing the cold therapy, soft tissue perfusion increased to 86.6 percent of pre-treatment values.
With the heat treatment, the soft-tissue perfusion was 25.1 percent above the pre-heated values. Even 30 minutes after the heat was discontinued, the hoof tissue temperatures…