The Low Down on Cool Downs
Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, the unofficial start to the summer, and the temperatures are quickly rising. We’ve already had a few days in the mid 80’s and if you have a horse that hasn’t been clipped or isn’t fully shed out, you’ve got a sweaty, hot mess on your hands. Overheating can lead to huge problems, needless to say, cooling down is VERY important.
Contrary to popular belief jumping off your horse and running to the wash stall to hose him/her will NOT cool them down. Standing still in a wash stall getting soaked with freezing cold water will just lead to tense, tight muscles. Water sitting on your horse’s body prevents the heat from escaping; making your horse hotter than when you started. This is where the handy dandy sweat scraper comes in. If you chose the hosing route, scrape after each spray so the water doesn’t have a chance to heat and insulate.
Cool your horse as quickly as possible and try sponging hot spots or major blood vessels instead of a full body soak. Use cool water to sponge down the bottom of the neck, chest and “armpits” for the maximum cooling effect.While everyone seems to be in such a rush these days, the most beneficial way to cool down your horse is a nice old fashioned walk after riding. Leave yourself enough time to drop your reins to the buckle, loosen your girth and any constricting nose bands/straps and allow the muscles to naturally stretch and cool.
Overheating is a huge concern for horses. Check your horse’s water—be sure it is plentiful—and make sure they are drinking. Consider adding an electrolyte for the hot summer months to ensure proper water intake. Dehydration is dangerous year round but especially in the summer.
So, my confession you ask? I HATE being sprayed with the hose.
I always feel bad for my horse when the water is freezing.