At this past show, I was consistently asked about when would I use heat or when would I use ice. So I thought I would jot it down for your reference.
Hot and cold therapies are most effective in speeding up healing time when used at the appropriate stage of an injury to soft tissues, muscles, tendons or ligaments.
Stage 1: Ouch! Injuries less than 36 hours old begin swelling and bruising. This process can damage uninjured tissues if left unchecked.
At this stage use Cold Therapy.
Applying Cold Therapy helps control the inflammation that could cause more damage. It causes vasoconstriction (the blood vessels constrict) which helps staunch hemorrhaging and bruising. Applied to an injury early, cold therapy can shorten recovery time by minimizing further tissue damage. Good Sources of cold therapy – a cold water from a hose, standing in spring/cold water, icing, etc.
Stage 2: Still Hurts! After 36 hours the swelling slows down and distinct edges of the injury become visible. The texture of the injury is slightly firmer.
At this stage start Alternating Therapies – Cold Therapy & Hot Therapy. Applying alternating therapies will begin the healing process. Heat therapy encourages circulation that allows healing cells and biochemicals to begin the repairing process, while Cold therapy prevents new swelling.
Stage 3: Getting Better. The swelling is now minimal. the injury may still be stiff and cause some discomfort, but the repairing process is fully underway.
At this stage we use Heat Therapy. Applying Heat Therapy at this stage increases circulation which allows your horse’s body to more quickly repair damage and remove waste from the affected area. Heat Therapy speed up this final stage of the healing process.
Source Article: Blog.sstack.com/understanding-hot-vs-cold-equine-therapy/