Wow is a JC-registered, race trained Thoroughbred who ran in one race; which is why he is now a show hunter. Anyway, race training can be tough on a horse's body and at only seven years old he has shown some hock soreness and discomfort. Consulting with a veterinarian after a lameness exam, we decided not to begin hock injections due to his age. Being a certified equine massage therapist, I decided to look for alternative methods to help ease any discomfort he may have and prevent further injury.
I've always heard positive things about Back on Track products so I researched their Therapeutic Hock Wraps. The Back on Track Therapeutic Hock Wraps use state-of-the-art fabric containing polyester thread embedded with a fine ceramic powder.
This is intended to reflect the horse's own body warmth creating a soothing far infrared thermal heat which is intended to help alleviate pain associated with inflamed muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. The wrap fastens around the hock but leaves the hock point uncovered. The neoprene exterior is easily cleaned by simply hosing off with water or washing with a mild soap. Three VELCRO® straps allow you to adjust the wrap's fit.
I purchased the medium Hock Wraps from SmartPak and use them pre- and post-ride. When I get Wow from his stall or paddock I brush his legs to ensure there is no dirt or debris that would be an irritant under the wrap, then fasten the wraps on each hock. I do my grooming routine and tack up with the Hock Wraps on the entire time. I only remove the wraps when I'm ready to leave the barn to ride.
After using the wraps for about a month or so now, I've noticed Wow starts our rides looser and less stiff, especially on his left hind where we've noticed the most discomfort. He's more supple and attentive to my aids because he feels better and is warmed up more due to the fine ceramic powder in the wraps reflecting his body heat back to his hocks -- and we all know the hocks are a complicated joint!
When I'm done with my ride or lesson, I'll wrap his hocks again before untacking. The wraps are essentially a prolonged cool down period. Instead of the normal 5-10 minute cool down then standing in the cross ties to be untacked, hosed and groomed, the wraps provide a slow thermal heat helping the tired muscles, tendons and joints cool down from the workout. After riding, I leave the wraps on for anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.
The Back on Track Hock Wraps are a great alternative method for helping alleviate hock pain or discomfort. Introducing your horse to the Hock Wraps, or any Back on Track product, correctly is essential. To start, use them or a maximum of four hours a day for the first 2-3 days so the body has the opportunity to familiarize itself with the fabric's effects. After the introductory period give your horse a weeklong break from the product before increasing usage time. From then on, you should expect to use the product for 10-20+ days to see its full effect.
Some horses experience an initial swelling due to the increased blood circulation which is a good sign the fabric is taking effect. The initial swelling can occur anywhere from a few to several hours after use. If your horse experiences any swelling you should stop using the product for the rest of that day, and introduce it carefully and more gradually over the next few days.
Back on Track recommends using standing wraps with the Hock Wraps to precent the wrap from slipping down the leg, but I have not had that issue, especially if the wrap fits correctly. If you plan to use the wraps overnight in the stall, then I can understand pairing them with standing wraps. I personally would not use these wraps for turn out.
*Not intended as medical advice. Please always consult a veterinarian.*