Your horse’s safety is always a primary concern, especially when it comes to preventing heat stroke. To do so effectively, you’ll need to know the best ways how to cool down a horse after riding.
Horses can become too hot in high temperatures and after prolonged exercise. To help you properly cool them down, we’ve compiled a list of what to do.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to cool down a horse after riding effectively.
Why It’s Important to Keep Your Horse Cool After a Ride or When Temperatures Soar
On their own, horses have difficulty returning their body to normal temperatures after they heat up. This makes maintaining a normal temperature a critical aspect of keeping your horse healthy.
Failing to cool down a horse when it’s hot out or after exercising can lead to heat exhaustion. The best preventative method is to keep your horse cool in these conditions. Overheated horses may also have poorer blood circulation, which can lead to pulled muscles.
Normal Temperature of a Horse
The normal temperature of a horse is between 99 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit. If a horse has a temperature over 103 degrees, you’ll want to cool them down. However, this range can be different for foals.
To know the typical temperature for a particular horse, periodically take temperature measurements. That way, you’ll know what is normal for your horse.
How Do You Know If Your Horse Is Too Hot?
In addition to taking their temperature, there are other ways to determine if your horse is too hot. Here are some symptoms to look out for.
- Panting or rapid breathing
- High heart rate
- Unwillingness to move
- Slow movements
- Body temperature above 103
What Temperature Is Too Hot to Ride a Horse?
To know what temperature is too hot to ride a horse, start by adding the air temperature to the percentage humidity. After you find this number, consider what aid you can provide your horse to safely ride in that temperature.
Any number above 120 can still be safe to ride in with additional cooling considerations. You’ll need to help the horse cool itself after riding in that environment.
If the air temperature plus the percentage humidity is above 150, the horse will struggle to cool itself or function effectively. You should be extremely cautious about riding your horse at this temperature.
If the temperature and the relative humidity together exceed 180, you should not ride your horse in that condition. The risk of heat stroke will be extremely high. Above 180, it is not safe for your horse.
Additional Temperature Considerations
The temperature and humidity a horse can safely ride in depends on several factors. Most significantly, horses can better accommodate hotter climates when they are used to them.
If your horse has just been moved to a hotter environment, it’ll need time to acclimate. Allow them to adjust before exercising them in hot conditions.
Other factors can prevent your horse from safely performing in hot environments. Obesity is one such example.
How to Cool Out Your Horse After a Ride
One of the most common ways horses become overheated is after exercising. Here are some tips on the most effective methods to cool your horse down after a ride.
1. Take a Walk
Taking a slow walk in the shade can help keep your horses’ blood circulating properly. A 15 minute walk will help the horse cool down while also loosening their muscles. This will prevent injury and keep the horse cool.
2. Avoid The Sun
It may seem obvious, but avoiding the sun before and after your horse’s workout can be extremely helpful. Limiting their exposure to the sun will significantly decrease the heat exerted on them.
3. Offer a Drink
Providing frequent sips of water for your horse to drink will help them restore their electrolytes. In the heat, horses sweat which will lower their amounts of electrolytes and reduce their ability to cool themselves.
Restoring their body’s water supply will prevent this from becoming an issue, and allow them to naturally cool themselves better. Ensuring your horse is drinking water is essential.
4. Hose or Sponge Your Horse
Hosing or sponging your horse in cool water will also cool them down. To begin, add cool water to the horse’s chest and neck. After doing so, you can proceed to add cool water to the horse’s body.
To effectively cool down a horse, you’ll need to continuously wash your horse with cool water for at least a few minutes. A simple rinse-off will not be effective. You’ll need to continue to rinse off the horse until heat no longer radiates from its skin.
5. Use a Cooler If You Need To
Coolers can be used after you exercise your horse in colder temperatures. However, they should not be used in hot conditions. Coolers are most effective in chilly weather to prevent the horse’s sweat from evaporating. If your horse’s skin feels too hot, remove the cooler.
In warmer weather, a misting fan might be a good alternative to a sheet or cooler.
6. Do Some Hand-Grazing
Allowing a leisurely walk with some grazing is a good way to cool down your horse. Fresh grass can also help your horse reduce its electrolytes, as it’s high in water content.
What Should You Avoid Doing When Cooling A Horse Down?
The worst thing you can do after exercising a horse is to put it back into a stable immediately. Some horse owners may think that returning the horse to a cool, shaded environment will suffice.
However, this can be very dangerous, as the horse has not had the opportunity to restore their blood flow and heart rate to normal levels. You must walk the horse after any intensive workout to prevent injury or illness.
Another common mistake is not providing enough water. Your horse will need to replenish their electrolytes by drinking plenty of fluids. Denying them water could become dangerous as well.
To Sum Up
If you need any advice about how to cool down your horse after riding, feel free to give us a call. We have experts on hand to answer all of your burning questions. Send us a note on our website or call us at 877-835-0878.