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FIR in horse boots - unrelated to overheating

Posted by Back on Track Representative on
FIR in horse boots - unrelated to overheating

Does the far infrared energy (FIR) of Back on Track horse boots lead to overheating of tendons?  The answer is no - and here is why!


Horse boots surround the most vulnerable parts of the horse's legs and absorb the force of shocks and impacts. In addition, good horse boots provide increased stability to both tendons and joints, reducing the risk of them being overstretched, overworked or misloaded.    

But it is also important to choose horse boots that reduce the heat load on tendons. The risk of tendon overheating is significantly reduced if the material is highly breathable or the boots are perforated to allow air to circulate.    

However, FIR – far infrared therapeutic energy, which is emitted by all Back on Track leg protections - does not make the boots warm. This means that the beneficial effect of FIR can coexist with both high breathability, high airflow and moisture wicking properties, which allow heat to be dissipated more easily.    


The properties of horse’s tendons  

The tendons of the horse's lower legs have been refined over the course of evolution into strong, resilient structures that effectively transmit the explosive power of the body's massive muscles. They run close to the surface of the skin, in a part of the horse's body that is also relatively unprotected. Around the cannon area, the pastern, fetlock and the coronet, there are no more supporting tissues than are absolutely necessary for function: elasticity and storage of kinetic energy.   

Due to the anatomical construction and biomechanics of the horse, tendons are exposed to very high loads. They therefore need to be both protected and stabilised to reduce the risk of injury. Tendon injuries in horses are very common and can be difficult to heal. The consequences can be devastating, and avoiding tendon injuries as much as possible is important for the long-term sustainability of the horse.   

The absolute best measures are prevention. By wearing leg protection, taking great care of the horse's lower legs and recognising small signs of problems before they develop into obvious symptoms, the risks can be significantly reduced.  


Two opposing requirements - protection and coolness  

But there is another specific threat to tendon durability: heating. Tendon internal temperatures can increase significantly during movement and exertion. Protective boots are needed - but they also make it harder for tendons to stay cool, as they are cooled by the environment. The resilience of tendons means that they store kinetic energy - which also increases their internal temperature. Thermal insulation can therefore lead to the heating of the connective tissue cells that make up the tendons. And these cells are not heat-resistant.   

In fact, tendon connective tissue cells start to die at temperatures just above 42°C - a temperature that tendons can reach locally during exertion and heavy work(1). If overheating of the horse's tendons is a regular occurrence, the tendons can start to break down; a process known as 'degeneration by hyperthermia'(2).  

As horse boots are positioned to cover the tendons, their very use risks further increasing their temperature, just by covering them up. This applies to all protective gear. But the outcome depends on the characteristics of the boots themselves and what material they are made of. A type of horse boot that allows air to circulate - thanks to its material properties or through perforations - will significantly reduce the risk of overheating compared to other boots.  


Leg protection with FIR - unrelated to generation of heat    

The minerals behind the FIR technology (Welltex®) do not provide thermal insulation. Instead, the Welltex technology gives the material its therapeutic properties, by absorbing and re-transmitting FIR to the horse's body. The material properties and/or the presence of ventilating openings will determine how well the boots can help dissipate heat away from the tendons.  

Far infrared energy has been shown to have a beneficial effect on biological tissues, including stimulating blood circulation and contributing to the efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients. This in turn improves the conditions for the body's own healing processes. The effect can be experienced and observed, but the mechanism behind it is still an active area of research. However, several possible explanations have been put forward.   

One plausible theory is that FIR upregulates the expression of an enzyme in the walls of blood vessels. This enzyme in turn increases the production of nitric oxide (NO) - a signalling molecule that the body uses to dilate blood vessels. The discovery of NO and its function as a signalling molecule in the body was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998.   

Energy delivery through FIR is also thought to affect water molecules. Because water make up such an important part of the body, the effect of causing these molecules to vibrate, move, change position or configuration can be of great importance. However, the infrared energy is not powerful enough to generate increased heat in the tissues.  

Taken together, the biological responses to FIR may explain why this form of energy appears to relieve conditions as diverse as swelling, inflammation, joint stiffness and muscle soreness. The Welltex®️ effect is often perceived to both relieve and prevent problems with overstretched tendons, inflammation, swelling and wind galls.  


Here's how you can train your horse in a sustainable way:  

  • Use high-quality horse boots that protect, support and relieve the structures in the horse's lower legs - but let your choice be guided by their ability to dissipate heat and keep the horse's tendons cool.    

  • Warm up the horse before a training session. Good blood flow and supple tissues will reduce the risk of lactic acid, fatigue, misloading and injury.   

  • Cooling bandages lower the temperature of the tendons after exercise. This can prevent tendon injuries.    

  • Exercise the horse on a suitable surface and preferably with a high volume of low-intensity exercise. Avoid sudden escalations of workload. This increases the risk of injury.  

The Airflow Collection - leg protection designed for maximum airflow and low weight   

The Airflow Collection includes a range of products made to allow air to circulate efficiently through them. This is achieved through highly breathable materials, openings, mesh fabric, perforations or surface structures creating small air pockets.   

This material technology allows the boots in the collection to breathe; keeping tendons and other sensitive structures cool and reducing the risk of overheating. Air circulates close to the horse's skin and heat and moisture can be quickly transported away.   

All products are lined with Welltex®️ technology, which can help increase blood flow by reflecting the body's natural infrared energy - without making the protectors hot.    

We choose the name Airtech™️ to describe the composition of several materials which together allow a lot of air to pass through the final product. The circulation of air makes the products comfortable to wear even in hot conditions – and also reduces the risk of overheating. 


1. Hall, E.J. (1988). Radiobiology for the radiobiologist, 3rd edition, Philadelphia: Lippincott.

2. Wilson, A.M. Goodship, A.E. (1994). Exercise-induced hyperthermia as possible mechanism for tendon degeneration. J. Biomechanics. 27(7), 899-905. 

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