There are several types of therapeutic materials available today for your equine friend. Each has its own pros, cons, and various applications. As most therapy type horsewear is rather pricey, do your research and figure out what will work best for you and your equine partner. The right choice can become a valuable asset in your quest for optimal equine health and performance!
Here’s a look at a few of the therapeutic materials on today’s market:
Wool is one of the most wonderful therapeutic materials. Completely natural, it can be found in many forms. Equestrians will typically see it in wool/pile/felt form, or left on the hide as sheepskin. Wool is breathable and naturally wicks moisture. It also insulates, and reduces pressure points. It can be found as saddlepads, horse boot liners, coolers/dress sheets, blanket liners and more.
2. Embedded Fabrics
Several companies have discovered that embedding fabrics with microscopic gemstones, stainless steel fibers, or ceramic powder offers benefits to the horse. These materials are designed into saddlepads, blankets and leg wraps. Their action is twofold. They reflect the body’s energy back into its system, increasing circulation, promoting healing and utilizing thermal heat, and they shield the body from high frequency electromagnetic fields. This shielding effect gives the body a short break during which it can focus its energy inwards.
3. Open Cell Foams
These offer the benefit of shock absorption and breathability, while providing a no-slip surface. Any weight, shock or pressure is distributed laterally along the surface of the horsewear, whether it be a horse boot or saddlepad. One company has created a pad that is lightweight, long-lasting, and custom molded.
Neoprene has long been part of the horse world – you can find it in just about everything, from horse boots and girths to saddlepads and halters. While neoprene is durable, form fitting, lightweight, shock absorbing and insulating, it does not dissipate heat, breathe, or wick moisture. It has been known to cause rubs and swelling, particularly when used as a girth lining. Horses can also be allergic to neoprene.
5. Foam PVC
Similar to open cell foams, foam PVC is shock absorbing, flexible and durable. Once warm, it will conform to your horse, but it does not breathe or wick moisture. As with any synthetic material, you must decide whether or not you want to place it directly against your horse. Given the concerns about PVC leaching additives from children’s toys and water bottles, we must also consider if our horses are at risk. Using a light cotton or wool saddlepad between the foam PVC and your horse may be your best bet.
Different types of gels can be found in horse boots, saddlepads, girths, browbands and halters. Whereas most of the materials discussed above are meant to dissipate pressure, gels are designed to absorb it. A gel pad typically does not wick moisture, and holds heat close to your horse. Saddlefitters are currently recognizing that while gel pads have long been known to have shock-absorbing qualities, that shock has to go somewhere, and you typically end up accentuating pressure points.
7. Air Ride
The pros and cons of air-filled saddlepads are similar to gel pads. Most do not breathe well, wick moisture or dissipate heat. Initially designed to absorb pressure, they are now recognized as increasing the severity of pressure points.
Antimocrobial fabrics and materials are either finished or infused with a chemical compound that destroys and inhibits the growth of microscopic organisms. Found in leg wraps, bandages, saddlepads, horse boots, and some blankets, these materials can come in handy when you are using equipment on a regular basis or sharing it with other horses. It will help prevent the growth and spread of bacteria, whether in everyday use or for wound management.
Magnetic horsewear typically consists of some type of material with therapeutic magnets sewn into small pockets. Products can appear in the form of blankets, wraps, boots, browbands and saddlepads. They employ magnetic field therapy to increase circulation, promote healing, and realign the body’s magnetic field.