Horses Do Get Hot
And it doesn’t need to be a hot day as the exercise will heat up the horse, especially his feet and his tendons. 80% of aerobically created energy ( uses oxygen) creates heat as a by product The sun will also create heat on the skin surface of the horse. It’s important to note that a horse’s hoof can reach 42◦C due to friction especially on artificial surfaces, the tendons also can reach 45-46 ◦C as heat is generated during stretching of the fibres.
A horse will help themselves to cool down by sweating - up to 50% or even 60% of heat can be reduced by sweating and the 25% from convection as the air flows over the body. They also breathe out heat in expired air and lastly heat radiates from their hot bodies.
However it is important to help to cool down a horse as soon as possible after exercise. When the activity stops the sweating suddenly reduces to 45% and so stops cooling the horse. A spike can occur at that time, creating the highest body temperature - so be ready to cool him. Cool water hosing all over, avoid very cold water it can cause shock and will close down the pores and you need to get the sweat out. If you can use warm water once he is cooler it will cleanse the skin and release the sweat from the pores better than cold. Scrape the water off as removing the water reduces the skin temperature. Walk the horse around slowly , if possible in shade, so that convection will also act to cool him.
Also cool the feet too use cold water or a cool gel, especially on the sole. Cold bandaging can assist to quickly cool and improve tendon recovery. Avoid ice, it shocks the capillaries and horses are sensitive enough to get freeze burn. An evaporative coolant like Arctic Blast Bandages or a gel like Aloe Cool Gel is ideal. Also if you are not near water then the new Artic Blast Coolant spray will bring down the surface temperature within minutes.
Also him to sip cool or tepid water, not in large amounts nor very cold. A horse is much likelier to want to drink tepid water than icy cold.
Be aware that heat stress is more likely to occur in high humidity, the level of humidity affects the sweat mechanism of the horse. High humidity of over 70% combined with an ambient temperature of 30 ◦C is the zone for caution and concern for heat stress.
Panting is a sign of the onset of heat stress, maybe from a reduced sweat function or dehydration from a lowered fluid intake. Essential to keep washing down, scraping and walking him slowly to create air movement. If possible artificially create air movement with a fan, or even fanning him manually.
A horse can become uncoordinated , weak even collapsing , so check conditions, reduce the work and watch for signs.
Keep handy access to water, sponges , cool gel, and a evaporative coolant. Ideal is the Arctic Blast range of spray coolant , and bandages – safer than ice, fast effective relief . The spray can be quickly used all over the body if a hose is not readily available. Aloe Cool gel useful for the feet and joints that are not able to be cold bandaged. A rapid cool down is going to improve recovery. There are science reports that show pre- event cooling can improve performance . Check out Arctic Blast Cooling Spray.
Wilson TE, Johnson SC, Petajan JH, Gappmaier E, Luetkemeier MJ, White AT
Dept of Exercise and Sport Science, Uni of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA – 2002
- 38 minutes of pre-event cooling, prior to a 5km run, resulted in 13 sec improvement (100 metres), with a faster pace most evident in the last two thirds of the run.
Arngrimsson SA, Petitt DS, Stueck MG, Jorgensen DK, Cureton KJ
Dept of Exercise Science, Uni of Georgia, Georgia, USA – 2004
- 30 minutes pre-event cooling, followed by a 70 sec cycle sprint, provided a 2.7% increase in power output.
Marsh D, Sleivert G
School of Physical Educataion, Uni of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand – 1999
- 30 minutes pre-event cooling, followed by 30 minute run, lowered sweat rates between 10 – 23%, ALSO endurance times for running at 95% of VO2max were increased by 49 sec
Webster J, Holland EJ, Sleivert G, Laing RM, Niven BE
School of Fabric and Textile Design, Massey Uni, New Zealand – 2005
- Halftime cooling (10 minutes) resulted in greater aerobic performance
Hornery DJ, Papalia S, Mujika I, Hahn A
Uni of West Sydney, NSW, Australia – 2005
- Achieving 5 – 6 degrees of pre-event cooling, followed by 30 minutes of cycling, resulted in cyclists cycling 6% further – 0.9 kms
Kay D, Taaffe DR, Marino FE Human Movement Studies Unit, Charles Sturt Uni, NSW, Australia – 1999
- In hot conditions 12.3% of horses are withdrawn from 3 Day Eventing due to heat strain, proactive cooling during the rest and recovery period was important to facillitate heat disipation.
Kohn CW, Hinchcliff KW Dept of Vet Sciences, Ohio State Uni, Colombus, USA – 1995