Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative
We have all been excited about the release of the Cloud. You may remember reading in my earlier blog about using them for hauling, stalling and while I’m waiting around for my run. I finally got to take a set to a small open rodeo here in town; yes it was the Easyboot Cloud’s first rodeo. Anytime you haul to an equine event chances are the parking is going to be horrible, there will be no shade, and it will be on concrete or hard packed dirt that is worse than concrete. Having the Clouds on eased my worries about where and how I was going to park. Another obstacle at many of these events: there is hardly any place to warm up or cool down your horse. I strongly believe that what you do immediately before and immediately after an event has just as much to do with being successful as training and competing. I wanted to see if the Cloud could be beneficial in cooling structures of the lower leg. Yes, we love feet here at EasyCare, but we also like to see what the benefits are for other parts of the body.
This is where the Cloud is going to be positive feature in my arsenal to keep my horse performing her best. First and foremost, my horse appeared more comfortable when I unloaded her at the rodeo, with the Clouds on she stood quietly and didn’t seem to be adjusting herself nearly as much. She is a very fidgety, nervous, high strung horse so anything I can do to keep her relaxed before running is a bonus. Yes, I know there are so many variables that can influence how a horse acts; bugs, wind, noise, kids running around and all the other monsters they seem to see but we don’t. I am the type of person that likes facts. I want some sort of proof that whatever I’m trying is working. That is where the FLIR camera came in. This is a thermal camera that allows you to see the actual temperature of something. To explain it as simply as possible; it is an infrared camera that reads infrared heat and turns it into an electric signal which is then turned into a thermal image that then processes temperature calculations. Way more than complex than the ol’ back of hand to the forehead “You have fever” your mama used to use.
I wanted to test these new Clouds in a real life situation, not in a controlled environment, but in a situation that our customers and myself will be using the boots in. We used the FLIR camera to see if these boots were truly beneficial in cooling a horse down after a run. I am an avid poultice user but that is something that takes quite some time to apply. It is not something I can put on immediately after a run, but the Clouds are, and from the results we gathered the Clouds did just what we expected. The Clouds did indeed aid in cooling the lower leg, all those important structures below the knee; the superficial digital flexor tendon, deep digital flexor tendon, dorsal digital extensor tendon and all the others I’m leaving out. If you have ever had a horse with a ligament or tendon injury you know how long the recovery can be, months or even years, if it is not career-ending. You may be wondering what the importance is of cooling off these structures. To keep this short and sweet, these tendons are like giant rubber bands and during an event they are stretched to the max: the faster you can cool them off and return them to a normal state the less likely you are to have swelling and inflammation thus shortening your recovery time.
To give you the Cliff Notes version of training on a FLIR camera, the detection gun is pointed at an object. The device will then try and set up a scaling of colors to show you what is hot and what is not. Just like a camera will automatically focus, the FLIR will automatically pick a temperature range that best shows a scale of colors. Just like the lens on a camera is detecting how much light is available and adjusts its shutter speed, the FLIR detects the temps and then sets a range for that “image”. You can take an image of your left hand and it picks a hi-low range on its temperature of 23c low and 31c high. You can take a picture of your right hand and it will self-adjust to a potentially new temperature range.
Thus “yellow” or “white” showing up in your image is not your only alert in finding a hot spot. It’s all relative to the temperature scale. If you have the SAME temperature scale reading, then yes, two pictures could be compared off of color result alone. If you are taking an image of two limbs in the SAME shot, those could be compared, apples to apples. But if you take a shot and a SECOND shot, you will have to check your scales before deciding that one limb being yellow and another one being bright white is actually a good comparison.
In these images, we might think they are the same reading, because the colors look the same to us. But if we glance at the scale that the FLIR picked, we would see that one had a high of 92.3 and the other was set to 82. That would mean that the heat spots in the left image were actually much hotter than the image on the right.
Following are the photos we took using the FLIR camera, you will notice in all the photos in the left corner there is the temperature reading in Celsius and there is an X in the location the camera is getting the reading from.
We took images of both front legs before I warmed her up. You can see that her left front was 26.9 Celsius and her right front was 27.3 Celsius she had the Clouds on for about an hour before we took the photos. The scales detected were the same, so we can just compare color to color if we want to glance at it. Additionally, the FLIR pinpointed an exact temp for where it was aimed, specifically.
In the next set of photos I did a light warm up, about 10 minutes of trotting and some loping. My horse does not require extensive warm up just enough time to get all those muscles moving and make sure everything feels right. I do a lot of walking before my runs to insure she stays warmed up but does not get too excited. We then put a Cloud only on the left front foot. I then hand walked her for a little less than 10 minutes. As you can see, the left front leg that had the boot on was about 2 degrees Celsius cooler than the right leg. Since I’m better with Fahrenheit, here are the conversions; left front 83.4 degrees Fahrenheit, right front 86.9 degrees Fahrenheit. The scales picked were almost the same, for the sake of visually comparing the reds-whites of heat from limb to limb.
The next set of photos are post run. I did ride her around right after my run so she could get her air back but after that, we did the exact same thing. I only put the boot on the left front and then I hand walked her for about 15 minutes. Might have been slightly longer as I was trying to find one of my dogs that kept disappearing. As you can see there is a 3 degree Celsius difference; left front was 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit and the right was 87.9 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, the scales picked were identical, so we can visually compare the color readings as well.
Interesting in scanning the hooves that the pastern has cooled down uniformly (despite having a boot wrapped around it) and the hoof is uniformly heated from the coronary band down to the hoof. Again, the hoof was in a boot. The other pastern and hoof have not cooled down uniformly and still show the heat of the two suspensory extensor branches, wrapping to the front of the pastern.
I knew that the Clouds would make my horse more comfortable while hanging around waiting to run but I’m glad with access to the FLIR I have proof that these boots do make a difference in cooling down thus aiding in a quick recovery. This is one of the many benefits the Cloud will have and, as opportunity arises, we will use the FLIR camera to log these boots in different circumstances. Stay tuned for more to come.