Study: Boots, Wraps Increase Leg Heat During Exercise

During exercise skin temperature under boots or wraps increases significantly–in a recent study sometimes more than 30%. Whether that leg temperature increase is good or bad, though, remains to be determined.
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Study: Boots, Wraps Increase Leg Heat During Exercise
During exercise skin temperature under boots or wraps increases significantly--in a recent study sometimes more than 30%. | Photo: Photos.com
Tendon boots help protect horses’ front legs from injuries such as hoof strikes or collisions with jumps. Wraps protect this sensitive area during travel or flat work. But Austrian researchers have determined that boots and wraps have definite effects on skin and tendon temperature as well—and those effects are probably not without health consequences for the horse.

During exercise skin temperature under boots or wraps increases significantly—in a recent study sometimes more than 30%, according to Simone Westermann, DrMedVet, a researcher in the Units of Large Animal Surgery and Orthopedics at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.

Whether that leg temperature increase is good or bad, though, remains to be determined, Westermann said. Especially on cold days, keeping tendons warm might be a good thing, since cooler temperatures can constrict the blood vessels in the tendons. However, too much heat can damage tendon cells, as well, she said. High heat can prevent sufficient oxygen from reaching tendon cells, which can lead to insufficient cell metabolism and overuse injuries.

Westermann and her fellow researchers investigated 10 riding horses worked on the longe line, with or without wraps or boots. They measured leg temperature using local sensors and thermography at rest and during trotting. On the first day, without wraps or boot, horses’ leg temperatures remained essentially the same between resting and trotting. On the second day of testing, horses wore a fleece wrap on one front leg and a neoprene boot on the other. The wrapped and booted legs’ resting temperatures were only slightly higher than those of the bare legs. But when the horses were exercised at the trot, the covered legs’ temperatures were significantly higher than the bare legs’

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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