Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Therapy Blankets and Products - Fact or Fiction?

Finding the right therapy to alleviate minor pain, swelling, inflammation or as part of a rehab program after injury, without a drug, a trip to the doctor/vet isn't always easy but it's worth the effort if you can find something that works.  I'm not a big believer in popping pills on animals or humans unless there's no other alternative.  And horses, like humans, are athletes that need to be tended to in order to function at peak performance.  Regular massages, working on sore muscles, increasing blood flow, will help all athletes get back to "normal" after exercise or help the aches and pains that come with age and too much activity.

And like human athletes, a trip to the chiro, a good massage or even a little accupuncture, can work wonders. But what about some of the other stuff?  Does it work?  Is it worth the money?  The short answer is it depends on who you ask.

1) Back on Track Products
These products have been out on the market long enough that people can chime in on whether they work or not. You can buy these products for humans, dogs and horses.  I have not used them for my own aches and pains.  But I have been using the wraps on my horses for many years and they have worked for me.

I use the wraps on Alfie for a puffy ankle that won't go down without anything but turnout or a back on track wrap.  I use a sheet on him at horse shows for his back.  And Lola is getting one too. 

Like anything else, this therapy may not work for everyone, but if it does, it's not a huge investment and it won't hurt your horse if it does not work.  These products are sold everywhere - Dover, Smartpak, many tack shops and online.  You can read about how it works here.

2) Draper Therapy Sheets
Similar to BOT in concept, Draper has a smaller selection of products for horses. You can see this line here. This product uses celliant (hollow fiber therapy).  I have not used Draper products. 

The following is from the Draper website:
Celliant, the technology contained in all Draper Therapies products absorbs and stores the electromagnetic (energy) emissions from the human body and releases them where they are reabsorbed into the skin and deep muscle tissue. In the deep muscle tissue they act as catalysts for natural, biological processes resulting in enhanced oxygen levels and more balanced body temperature during sleep, rest or physical activity.

In this way, it helps the user remain strong and active even when the product is not actively being used. It is the world's first responsive textile with clinically proven benefits to the human body.  All Draper Therapies products are proudly made in the USA and are washer and dryer safe!
3) Rambo Sportz-Vibe Blanket
Another option is massage therapy blankets which can be very expensive.  In this line, a less expensive option (but still expensive) is the newer Rambo blanket.  I have not tried this option.  You can see it here

I have read that there is not much "vibration" in this blanket, that you can add more to the blanket.  You also have to the blanket on the horse and let it run for 20-30 minutes (in cross ties) so this therapy will add to your riding preparation time.  If you have a limited time schedule this may not work for you on a daily basis.

4) Other More Expensive Options
You can find other options too and if you look at the very high end equine athletes - Grand Prix show jumpers, top three day horses, and dressage horses, you'll likely find Centurion, Respond, Sports-Innovation and other brands of therapy blankets that can cost thousands of dollars.  These blankets use pulse therapy to stimulate the blood flow and increase circulation after a strenuous workout.  The list of international clients for Sports-Innovation is quite impressive (see it here) but again, these horses are in the seven figures.  So dropping six grand on a blanket is a drop in the bucket at this level.  I know people who own the Centurion and I have tried it but the blankets can be heavy and it takes quite a bit of time to set the blanket up and use it.  For busy people with no help, it may not make sense.  I like the Sports-Innovation brand because they are lighter and not as heavy to work with.  You can read about it here.

There are lots of products out there to try!  What works for you and your animals?

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