Saturday, July 20, 2013

How to properly cool down a horse

It's been pretty warm outside lately and our poor Indie is a giant sweat ball after Maddie gets done riding.  Maddie walks him out and then we normally hose him down before we put him up.  I started wondering the other day if how we are cooling him down is healthy for him. I decided to do some research on how to properly cool down a horse.  Here's a few points I felt everyone should know.

1.) Begin cooling down with a 15 min walk.  Loosen the saddle to help with airflow up the back to help prevent cramping.

2.) Give your horse a minimal amount of cold water.  To much water can create cramping in the stomach.

3.) A curry comb or towel to dry them down is sufficient.  You may choose to hose them down, but dry afterwards.

4.) It is more important to cool your horse down in the winter than it is in the summer.  Cool down in the winter can consist of not only the above, but also a large flake of grass hay.

For more information you can read the complete article by Horse Magazine at the link below.


  1. I walk my horses on long rein until their breathing has improved-no matter how long it takes, then I loosen the girth and remove the bridle, then take him to the trough to drink with the reins around his neck (you could place a halter next to the trough for after riding). I allow him to drink until he seems satisfied, I do monitor how much he takes in. Typically it's not a lot. But if youre out on a long trail ride with no access to water for a long period of time, I suggest upone returning home to allow the horse to drink, then walk hime for 10 more minutes, then offer more water to allow his body time to absorb it. I do not recommend allowing them to drink large amounts of water at any one time, so I offer it in "smaller doses" until the horse is no longer needing more. It is important that they note limit "cold" water. The water we have in florida is typically not cold out of the hose, I allow my horse to drink to start replacing the fluids lost. I've never had issue with abdominal cramping with any of my horses. My thought is, if they are thirsty, let them drink. I do the same for myself after a hot workout. I'm more concerned about dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. I always offer my horse the opportunity to drink before I ride and I give electrolytes daily in feed especially for my heavy sweaters. I hose my horses down thoroughly after a workout, I also place 5 drops of peppermint essential oils down the spine and on his poll to accelerate the cooling process (This also helps my heat intolerant TB tremendously). I allow them to air dry as the moisture helps to disperse the heat. Leaving sweat on their skin is not healthy, as is the same for humans. In the winter I have a "cooler" that is available through horse suppliers. If they are steaming and sweaty, I untack them and put the cooler on them immediately. It will allow them to disperse the heat and the moisture will settle on the top of the cooler. They can dry without catching a chill. Then I brush them thoroughly. I used to use rubbing alcohol applied with a sprayer to dry them quickly, I no longer practice this as the skin is the largest organ on our bodies and that alcohol is absorbed into the body through the skin. I don't think it's very healthy for them. Hope this gives you more ideas.

  2. Dont forget, if you are going to hose them ALWAYS START FROM THE LEGS AND WORK YOUR WAY UP. :)

  3. Being an endurance rider, we let our horses drink as much as they want especially when they are very hot. However, if the water is icy cold, then we don't. We also sponge water over their wither, carotid area, belly, between hind legs, everywhere there are big muscles and arteries. Not all horses like this, that's where knowing your horse comes in. Cold weather cooling is totally different as they may immediately start to get too cold if they are sweaty and then stop working. That requires a blanket to keep the muscles from tightening up.

  4. #2 is wrong there is a water founder