Heat Therapy, and Alternating Hot and Cold

Thermotherapy, or heat therapy for horses can be used for the final stage of healing. This allows for the replacement of cells and repairing tissue. Blood circulation is increased which allows for the cells to regenerate and speed up the healing of cells. There are many types of heat therapy. Poultices can be used to draw out an infection. A poultice is a plant like material that relives soreness and inflammation. Hot hands are made of rubber or latex gloves filled with hot water from the tap. Boiling water is not used due to deterioration of gloves. The rubber ends are tied and the gloves look like warm pillows. These are then placed on the horse. Hot compresses, heat packs and hot water bottles are also used.


Thermotherapy should be applied for a short period of time. Heat should be applied in 20 minute intervals, up to three-four times a day. Heat should not be scalding and the horse should be supervised when receiving therapy. Heating should be applied to unexposed muscles. This means no open wounds or fresh cuts should receive hot water.

The benefits of hydrotherapy have already been mentioned. The alternating of heat and cold is beneficial. Alternating between thermotherapy and cryotherapy is best when an injury is at a palpable lump. This injury will be noticeable with swelling and less painful injuries. Alternating between the two extremes allows for white blood cells to destroy any dead tissue or other particles. Alternating therapies are used for kicks/bites, soft tissue abscesses, tendon injuries, laminitis, and hoof abscesses.