Julie Garella knows a good thing when she sees it. Many years as an investment banker in the pressurized New York City financial world will do that to you. It can also burn you out, especially if you have a heart for horses and yearn for a life that includes time to enjoy them.
That's where Julie found herself in 2007, when she decided to put her business savvy to use for her own benefit. She had just published a book called Capitalize On Your Success and decided to set on a path doing exactly that. A few years later she came upon the "the best kept secret in the equine world," Ice Horse®, maker of equine cold therapy products.
It was an investor's dream: an already-good product poised to be exceptional with some upgrades in design, technology and marketing. A pioneer in the cold therapy market for 15-plus years, Ice Horse has always had an edge because its cooling power comes from a patented technology used for the inserts, rather than gel packs that are common in this product category.
When frozen, the inserts, compatible with all of Ice Horse's boots and wraps, have the consistency of soft, fluffy snow that stays cold for over two hours. Because the formula actually changes state, research shows that, ounce for ounce, the inserts provide therapeutic cooling five times longer than gels do. The granules in the patented formula help prevent the burning sensation common with gels and raw ice, Julie notes. Best of all, the inserts are reusable after about four hours in the freezer.
Since acquiring the company in late 2012, Julie has committed to manufacturing in the United States. "This has allowed the company to carefully manage the quality control, improve the features of both the inserts and the wraps and focus on new products such as our equine Back Blanket and Ice Rider® line for humans."
All of the Ice Horse products are now made in a facility that meets mandates for products bound for the human market. This assures high standards and consistency in the manufacturing of all components. The boots and wraps that hold the snow packs are made of state-of-the-art material that is breathable. This is an important distinction, says Julie, because many wraps are made of neoprene, which is a toxic material that can cause allergic reaction in horses and people. The new designs provide even compression to the areas being treated. New clear packaging invites consumers to touch and feel the material.
Team Ice Horse
Along with this evolution, the list of riders who endorse Ice Horse has grown to span many disciplines and horses at every level of competition. American Olympians Rich Fellers, Laura Kraut and Gina Miles top that list, along with national jumping stars Susie Hutchison, Joie Gatlin, champion hunter riders Hope Glynn and Liza Towell Boyd along with WEG gold medal reining champion Tom McCutcheon. The Ice Horse Team also includes dressage, reined cow horse, combined driving and barrel racing champions.
These horsemen understand cold therapy's ability to keep damaging heat and inflammation at bay in muscles, tendons and joints. Ice Horse's boots and wraps are most commonly used after work or in treating an injury. They can also help with swelling associated with lymphangitis, cellulitis or edema.
Suspensory ligaments, tendons, pasterns, knees, hooves, hocks, stifles and sore backs are the equine body parts currently treated by Ice Horse's ever-growing product line.
Riders' use of Ice Horse products on their own sore spots spurred the development of Ice Rider wraps for the back, elbow/ankle and knee and shoulder. "Riders kept telling me they were using our hock wraps for their knees," Julie recalls. "I knew there must be a better way to handle that, so we developed it." Canadian Three Day event coach Clayton Fredericks complained of elbow pain from a polo injury, and thus was born the wrap that can be used on the elbow or ankle. Julie's own temperamental back led to the Ice Rider back brace.
Ice Horse also offers Deep Heat inserts that fit the pockets in all their compression wraps and boots. Heat is soothing, relaxes muscles and prompts the healing effect of increased blood flow. Some conditions call for alternating hot/cold therapy and the interchangeable ice and heat packs make this an easy treatment to administer.
Healthy Horse Space
Julie left New York City and the financial world behind, but not her fast pace and open eye for new opportunities. She travels the show circuits domestically and abroad regularly to meet with riders and veterinarians and she's ever on watch for new products that fit into what she calls the "healthy horse space."
"Just as in the human 'space,' people are looking at non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical ways of taking care of themselves and that's translated into the care of equines and small animals," she observes. Strict medication rules intensify that quest in the competitive horse world, making cold therapy an appealing choice.
The entrepreneur is just now ready to get back into a regular riding routine and hopes to compete on the amateur hunter circuit soon. Win or lose, the Ice Horse proprietress and her equine partner will surely be cool competitors.
For more information on Ice Horse, visit www.icehorse.net.