Liquid Titanium Hoods
Liquid Titanium hoods have become popular on the competition circuit over the last few years. I have seen it most popular among showjumpers, and it appears on the Riding Club scene as well. These horse face hoods have claimed to reduce anxiety, reduce pain and even regulate body temperature levels. From the outside, this looks like a great product that will calm my horse drug-free, but does it really work?
Titanium is a chemical element, a silvery grey colour metal and part of the periodic table. It has a melting point of 1,660 degrees Celsius and a boiling point of 3,287 degrees C. (Britannica, 2023) At room temperature it is in a solid state and is often used in surgical procedure due to its non-toxic properties. Knowing the melting point of titanium, it is hard to believe that a textile product can hold titanium in a liquid state. It is my opinion, that there is no Liquid titanium contained within the product. I have seen comments on social media that the brand name of the product is Liquid Titanium, which to any consumer is quite misleading.
Fenwick Equestrian has a range of Liquid Titanium products for horses. It says they use Far Infrared technology in the hoods. The claims for the “Fenwick LT Liquid Titanium Mask”- €110.23 (price from Old Mill Saddlery) are as follows:
- Reduce Stress & Anxiety
- Regulate Body Temperature
- Relieve Pain
- Boost Metabolism
- Accelerate Healing
- Improve Immune System
- Increase Circulation
I contacted Fenwick Equestrian to ask for any scientific evidence or studies completed on horses for their products. I received a reply including a link to the website’s about page and a message of “Far Infrared therapy has been used for centuries. There are many companies producing products. Fenwick’s is unique in our use of titanium”. Having read the website’s about page previously, I already knew there was no mention of studies completed on horses, and no published studies on horses regarding Far Infrared Radiation.
Far Infrared Radiation (FIR) is one part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Specialised heat lamps and saunas are possibly the most common form to deliver the radiation in a controlled environment. FIR has been known for many years of its therapeutic properties. It has been found that FIR can penetrate up to 4cm beneath the skin (Vatansever & Hamblin, 2012). There has been development in the last number of year of fibres impregnated with FIR emitting nanoparticles. This is when ceramic particles, composed of substrates like magnesium, silica and titanium oxide are combined into other materials and reflect the FIR humans naturally emit, back onto the skin. This is what Fenwicks Equestrian says when it uses Far Infrared therapy.
Studies have been published on humans for the use of FIR from lamps, saunas etc, but what about materials that have these FIR emitting nanoparticles? In a study investigating textiles impregnated with particles with high emissivity in the Far Infrared in people (Papacharalambous et al., 2019) found that, out of the four subjects, three showed a slight warming of the treatment hand (around 2 degrees C) compared to the non-treatment hand.
So we know that FIR is a well-established from of healing in people in the form of lamps etc and that textiles can be impregnated with ceramics to reflect this back onto the skin, but what about our horses? They are covered in a hairy coat, so how much of the FIR from the ceramic particles that are impregnated into textiles, actually penetrate through horse hair? I would imagine very little, as an online article on the topic about infrared light (Caniry, 2022) said, “hair is a barrier to penetrating infrared light “ and that 98% of the infrared light was absorbed or reflected by the 2mm of blond human hair, blocking it from the light sensor. So if this is from a infrared light, it can be concluded that textiles with impregnated ceramics will reflect very low amount of FIR back onto horse hair. Not only does this show that the materials are showing a low ability to reflect the FIR onto our horses, but would you want to be warming your horse during exercise? Especially not on areas such as tendons, as we work hard to keep them cool during exercise.
It is difficult to prove that these “Liquid Titanium” horse hoods actually deliver on what they claim, as there is no studies conducted on horses with them. Exploring the topic of FIR has given light to its possible ability and limitations in horses. Brands will often use studies conducted in humans to back up claims for their product in horses, but horses and humans are not the same. If a product seems to good to be true, check the brands website or information for any studies conducted in horses. Overall, I would say that these hoods do not have sufficient evidence to back up their claims and that the capability of impregnated textiles to reflect FIR back onto our horses is relatively low.
Can infrared pass through skin? (2022) Caniry. Available at: https://www.caniry.com/can-infrared-pass-through-skin/ (Accessed: March 9, 2023).
Papacharalambous, M. et al. (2019) “The effect of textiles impregnated with particles with high emissivity in the far infrared, on the temperature of the cold hand,” Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 141(3). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4042044.
Titanium (2023) Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/science/titanium (Accessed: February 22, 2023).
Vatansever, F. and Hamblin, M.R. (2012) Far Infrared Radiation (FIR): Its biological effects and medical applications, Photonics & lasers in medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699878/ (Accessed: February 22, 2023).