Since the dawn of time we have been using stable bandages for a plethora of reasons. Back in the time of dinosaurs with cotton and cut flannel, to the advent of quilts, then pre-made bandages with velcro on the end, throw in the No-Bow bandages, and now we have “boots”. Let’s be honest, we all have a roll of cotton in an emergency kit somewhere along with a roll of vetwrap, if you don’t, you should probably get some. “Who has an emergency kit?” Oye ve, that’s a different discussion. If you own a horse you should own a set of bandages, stuff happens, you need to be able to wrap them. Get help if you don’t know what to buy, there are sizes so 14 hand Fluffy Pony needs a different size bandage than the 17 hand warmblood down the barn aisle.
So the question is about Back on Track products, do they work or not? Well, it depends on what you are trying to do. Usually when I wrap I am at a show and attempting to prevent stocking up. “Stocking up on what? Is there a sale, do I need to buy something?” No, “stocking up” is that swelling that horses get in their legs when they stand in a stall all night. It’s generally not life threatening but can be uncomfortable for your horse and that isn’t fair to your lovely show pony that carted you through that dressage test and jumper round earlier today. I have done dry supportive stable wraps, I have wrapped with liniment of various flavors and types, and I have used the Back On Track (BoT) boots. First thing, if you use BOT, you use it dry, without liniment or poultice. I will tell you BoT worked as well as any wrap with liniment. They are crazy expensive ($95 a pair compared to about $60 for bandages and no-bows for all 4 legs) but the boots literally take 2 minutes to put on, 2 minutes to take off, they are instantly ready to put back on as in no rolling of wraps, and if you don’t actually know how to wrap a horse, these are fairly fool proof. I do recommend everyone learn how to wrap, if done incorrectly, you can actually cause more harm than good, and yes, I do know how to wrap all kinds of wraps thanks to lots of great Pony Club camps. If you are a wrapping connoisseur , they sell the pillows/quilts/no-bow version for $70 a pair (so by the time you buy 2 pairs and the bandages you have spent about $160).
What about the rest of the BoT line? Well I have a small blanket that I put on Emma’s back before I tack her up when I am at shows, she seems less cold backed, but maybe I would get the same reaction if I just strapped a saddle pad to her. They have full blankets and turnout blankets as well which if you are pulling a horse from a stall and turning them out on a cold morning, could prevent a sore back, rump, or shoulder as they explode around the pasture like a wild banshee. Some people swear by the entire product line, but some of it I feel is unnecessary. I live in Texas, it doesn’t take much time for my saddle pad to get just plain hot, so having a saddle pad heat up just that much faster isn’t really necessary, in cooler climates though, it may be worth the money, especially if you have a cold backed horse.
As far at the tendon boots and brushing boots, if you are in a hot climate like I am, you may want to think twice about adding heat to heat, but up in colder areas, it could be beneficial.
Frugal Cheat! Schneider’s Tack has a ceramic line as well, I have not tried it yet but it is significantly cheaper than BoT, about 25% cheaper. I also like their tack bags, reasonably priced and heavy duty.
Update 7/6/17: I got contacted by a company about Mr. Feel Warm products. They are out of Europe, thus they may be cheaper for our European readers. Most of the stuff is as or more expensive than BoT, BUT if you are looking at a BOT fleece sheet, that will run you about $200, where as Schneider’s is $180 but Mr. Feel Warm is about $140 with shipping (depending on the Euro exchange rate. As always be aware of overseas fees with your personal credit card.)
“You mentioned liniment but what about DMSO, Poultice, magnets, ice boots, so many options, what about those.” Great question, lets address each.
DMSO – First of all, this is a chemical and should be handled carefully. I do not recommend using this without veterinary supervision, misuse can cause problems, and it’s not something you should be exposing yourself to on a regular basis. Also, I have a deep loathing hate for the stuff, I can’t stand the smell, if a vet prescribes it, then I will use it, but I don’t even keep it around, I have only once had it prescribed and that was when my mare got West Nile, ages ago.
Poultice – So many people swear by poultice, I see nothing wrong with poultice, but… I have yet to see poultice be more effective than a supportive wrap with liniment gel, followed by cold hosing after removing the wrap. I chose to avoid the mess. The only time poultice prevails over liniment is on broken skin, abscesses, or wounds, using liniment in these situations is just plain mean. But as for your general stocking up, liniment and a hose works just as well as all the clay, paper, and mess.
Magnets – I remember these being big before BOT, some people still use them but they seem to have fallen out of popularity. I never did try them, some people love them but all of the magnet stuff I can find is crazy expensive.
Ice boots – Ice boots are great so is soaking in cold water or cold hosing but these would be things that you would do after your horse has stocked up, or after a work out to help prevent swelling and promote recovery after a workout. These are not recommended for leaving overnight to aid in stocking up. I do have Icevibe boots that I use after a round at the shows, when I remember to throw the packs in the cooler.
A note on Liniment – We all love the natural stuff, but some of it contains “illegal” ingredients that will test positive at shows, should your horse get drug tested. Sore No-More is one of them, if you are going to a recognized show, be sure to use “Sore No-More Performance”
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