Chuck Dumbrell loves a good problem. Like what to do about the fact that the temperature of a horse's tendons can elevate to 113 degrees in as little as seven minutes of work. Heat, of course, is synonymous with inflammation, which is as damaging to the equine system as it is to humans.
The seven-minute statistic was determined by the Royal Veterinary College, London, England, and Chuck had an answer for it: cold therapy. That was the premise of his company, Mackinnon Quality Equine Products and its extensive and ever-growing line of Ice Horse products.
When he started the San Diego company 12 years ago, equestrians were familiar with the idea of using ice to treat an injured leg. Ice Horse's success has played a part in the equestrian community's evolving understanding of cold therapy's ability to prevent injuries. "With the value of horses increasing along with the professional level of owners, trainers and riders, there's a more ready acceptance of the preventative benefits," says Chuck. His favorite analogy, offered by a prominent Southern California equine practitioner, is that of a brush fire that will rage out of control if not snuffed out immediately. "People are beginning to understand that if they do not take control of the development of lactic acid (which builds up during exercise), they will have more problems with their horse if they do not cool down that tendon and related tissue."
Made of a food-grade propylene glycol, Ice Horse's wraps fit various parts of the horse's leg and hoof. They range from the Big Black Boot for the hoof to the new Full Hind Leg Wrap, plus wraps for the hock, tendon and the Evendura, which starts low on the knee and ends below the fetlock. Whatever their shape, the wraps are a conduit for cold or hot therapy, depending on whether the situation calls for vascular constriction (cold) or dilation (hot). The wraps have pockets for First+Ice® packs, which are stored in the freezer in a zip lock bag when not in use. They typically provide up to two-and-a-half hours of cooling to the affected area, and are re-usable after being frozen again. The wraps contain the First+Ice packs and keep the leg dry, and the cold therapy works by drawing heat out of the tendons and soft tissues.
Ice Horse's first product, the Continuous Flow Cold Water System, is still one of its best sellers. This system pumps a continuous flow of cold water through the leg wrap, again available for various parts of the leg and hock. More recently, the company developed the Ice Horse XC (cross country) to cool the whole horse's body after competition and work-outs in hot weather. This system sprays chilled water evenly along the horse's body, positioning a consistent water flow to critical areas like the chest and hindquarters. The system's powerful but quiet, submersible pump is powered by a 12-volt marine or automobile battery. As its name implies, the Ice Horse XC was designed for competitive eventing horses, and a portion of the proceeds from its sale goes to the US Eventing Assn.'s Equine Research Program. It was extremely popular and effective at the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong.
Chuck is justifiably proud of Ice Horse's receipt of the Horse Journal's Editor's Choice Product of the Year award for its entire line-up. That honor and the success of Ice Horse's products stem from his appreciation for the horse and his desire to improve their well being. Always on the lookout for new equine problems to help solve, Chuck regularly attends the American Assn. of Equine Practitioners conventions and other equine oriented gatherings. For example, lightbulbs lit for Chuck when he learned of laminitis expert, Professor Christopher Pollitt's findings that immediate cooling of the hoof could help reduce the risk of founder for horses and ponies that have eaten too much grass or grain. Because ponies are particularly prone to such hoof ailments, that news inspired the creation of a Big Black Boot fit for ponies, which is due on the market soon.
Competitive horse owners in both english and western disciplines have been quick to embrace the value of Ice Horse's products. They're easy sells, Chuck says. "Weekend warriors," however, tend to think the products are not meant for their horses. "I delight in visiting with those who tell me, 'I'm just a trail rider,'" Chuck shares. "When I tell them how little activity (seven minutes) is needed for a horse's tendons and soft tissues in the leg to heat up to 113 degrees, it gives them a different perspective." He loves to watch their understanding change when they realize the relatively low cost of using Ice Horse products to improve their horse's post-ride comfort level and reduce the chance of inflammation related problems and injuries. "I tell them the little brush fire analogy and they get it!"
For more information on Ice Horse products, visit www.icehorse.net or call Chuck Dumbrell at 858-792-0881.