A very hot and hot-under-the-collar topic: cooling out horses in hot weather

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by slc, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Opinions differ a lot!

    When the goal is rapid cooling of horses in very hot humid weather, it looks like 'hypercooling'(whole body washing with ice water) cools horses off more than sponging off limited areas of the body with tepid water. This study used rectal temperature to compare body temperatures.

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.2042-3306.1995.tb04948.x

    This study compared a specially designed 'cooling blanket' of breathable fabric layers, to 32 liters of 4 degree Celsius water, by using the pulmonary artery temperature. The cooling blanket failed to perform effectively, the cooling bath was better, but the cooling bath didn't keep the body temperature down once walking was resumed.

    A NOVEL METHOD OF COOLING HORSES AFTER ENDURANCE EXERCISE - UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

    This study looked at precooling in 13 different studies - trying to cool the horse off before he performs (we use to do this and in the 1992 Olympics some of the riders were infuriated when the security staff did not let anyone wash down the horses before they competed - one rider insisted the guards do it, and they did!). They found 'moderate' evidence that pre-cooling actually happens. I think they are more endorsing washing the body with cold water, and ingesting an 'ice slurry' as a possible alternative.

    Pre-cooling for endurance exercise performance in the heat: a systematic review

    "Current evidence indicates cold water immersion may be the most effective method of pre-cooling to improve endurance performance in hot conditions, although practicality must be considered. Ice slurry ingestion appears to be the most promising practical alternative. Interestingly, cooling garments appear of limited efficacy, despite their frequent use."

    There doesn't seem to be any endorsement of draping the horse in wet towels or using other cooling garments before or after work.

    Some older(1995) observations from Sally O'Connor:

    http://useventing.com/sites/default/files/education_committee_notes_6_95.pdf

    The main point here is that cold water baths do not cause muscle cramping or tying up.
     
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  2. slc

    slc Senior Member

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  3. FraggleRock

    FraggleRock Full Member

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    Yes! I get so sick of people telling me I'm hurting horses with cold water. I groomed Standardbreds, and then owned my own race horses. I've given many horses cold baths (when the hot water tank was out) and generally bath them in much cooler water than the average person. These are horses that are literally coming off the track being unharnessed and bathed, no cooling time. Have yet to see any signs of discomfort from the cold water!
     
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  4. doublelranch

    doublelranch Senior Member

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    It's a pretty common belief that cooling a hot horse all over with cold water could cause shock and instant death. Never seen or heard of this actually happening.
     
  5. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I have. Big heavy-muscled warmblood at FEI level, there are very few days that I would throw ice water on him, but also I was generally careful about getting him overheated on very hot humid days. Plus he was incredibly fit. So having an extremely overheated horse on an extremely hot humid day was not an issue.

    Another issue with this type of horse is 'reheating.' What happens is that on days that are cool-ish, and high humidity (say, about 50 degrees and very humid), they will 'reheat' or 'break out' and start sweating and heating up AFTER they are fairly well along in cooling out. This is because there is so much heat stored in the muscles of the hind quarter and they are so thick and buried under other muscles. This can happen if you put them in their stalls, so these horses have to be cooled out very carefully on days like that.

    I could feel muscle stiffness in his back and top of hind quarter the day after if I did. instant death, tying up, anything like that? No. Some stiffness. It would be difficult to get him to 'give me his back.'

    So I did not use ice water all over his body - I would not put very cold water on his loin or the top of his hind quarter - that still leaves an awful lot of surface area the heat is coming off of. I did not find any issue with putting cold water anywhere else.

    I would however stand there and hose him on his chest, between his front legs and on his neck, with very cold water. And that seemed to work very well for him.

    I've heard others with very heavily muscled advanced horses say the same.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
  6. MzCarol

    MzCarol Senior Member

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    I'm only going to say this......

    I know what it's like for me on hot/humid days and I'm not out of shape. I know that on hot/humid days it takes more from the body to do just the daily/normal load of things. I know that I move slower because simple breathing is harder on the body when humidity is above 70%. I know that it's not advised to drink ice cold water on days like that because it shocks a hot body that is already working hard to cool itself. Cooling (or heating) rapidly can cause stress to systems an organs.

    I don't believe that this is any different in horses. As I wouldn't jump from a 100 degree day with high humidity to an ice cold shower, neither would I do that to my horses. I make time for a longer cool out walk after workouts and let their body calm down some before I take it to the shower. I also ride at 530am when it's cooler (about 70) to give them as much comfort as possible.
     
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  7. turnnburnlynx

    turnnburnlynx Senior Member

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    I must be weird, because after i work out , and get hot sweating and gross, i love a cold shower haha
     
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  8. horseingreyflannelsuit

    horseingreyflannelsuit Senior Member

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    What I have always been told over the years was to not let an over heated horse or one that was hot and sweaty to drink a large amount of cold water all at once. But I also think that the do not suddenly hose down a hot horse was also mentioned to me. In the summer months, I've always gone out in the middle of the day and hosed down the horses I had, on those really hot days. The way I did it was to start hosing the legs off first and slowly working upward over the body. I never turned the water bib on high, just a gentle slow flow. They always seemed to enjoy those hosings. Never turned the hose on them when the weather was cold. In the winter months, I walked them till they were cool and the hair was completely dry.
     
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  9. equinitis

    equinitis Senior Member

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    Me too.

    I will hose off a hot equine without hesitation but I do not have access to cold water from the hose. Since I have a well, the water stays right around 60 all year around.

    I remove tack and scrape sweat, hose off liberally, walk, hose and scrape, walk, lather rinse and repeat until breathing is normal and the animal is no longer "hot" to the touch. I also allow them to drink all they want during the process.
     
  10. turnnburnlynx

    turnnburnlynx Senior Member

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    @equinitis I also have a well, so I'm in the same boat
     

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