How to keep your horse cool after strenuous exercise
Did you know it is natural for a horse to warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards? Like any human athlete or bodybuilder it is important for a horse to limber up its muscles before any strenuous work and to relax afterwards to enable its muscles to cool slowly without allowing it to catch a chill due to its falling body temperature.
For the health and long term well-being of your horse it is important to ensure its respiration and pulse returns close to normal values after working hard. The easiest way to tell when a horse has cooled down after exercise is to monitor its breathing patterns. If the horse is no longer puffing it has sufficiently recovered. It should also no longer be hot and sweaty.
Check for sweat
In order to see whether your horse has overheated after hard work you should never hop straight off it after exercise. Gently feel its chest to check for sweat and act with caution if it is clammy. Indeed some riders prefer to walk the last half mile home on their horse, ensuring they are calm and ready to unsaddle the moment they arrive back to the stables.
Protect their muscles
Certainly the most relaxing way to cool your horse after riding is to take it for a leisurely walk around the nearby area whilst its body temperature falls. This will unfortunately take longer in the summer months due to the higher levels of humidity. If you suspect your horse has overheated during strenuous exercise you should never leave them standing still. This has a damaging effect on its muscles as they tense and become sore.
Once your horse has sufficiently cooled down after exercise be sure to place a cooler on its body after you have carefully dismounted. This guards against any chill your horse may receive en-route back into the stables. You may also wish to hose or sponge off your horse to keep their body temperature at a comfortable level, especially in the summer.
It is also recommended not to feed your horse until at least an hour after intensive exercise. This will depend on whether your horse enjoys trail riding or if it is a high energy, endurance horse as the latter will prefer to eat as and when it feels like it due to its high protein, high carbohydrate diet.
These tips will ensure you act responsibly with your horse’s best interests at heart.
Karen Barley provides exclusive equine transport where the welfare, health and safety of the horses is paramount. Karen provides some top tips to keep your horse cool after exercise.
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