How To Cool Your Horse Down After A Ride
Horses are athletes. Just like human athletes, they need to warm up before horse riding and cool down afterwards. A horse that is not properly cooled down after a horse ride is at risk for developing conditions such as lactic acidosis, tying up, and colic.
The body temperature of a horse is 99 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Their temperature rises as they move throughout your horse ride, which is normal; but, if their temperature rises too high, it might be hazardous to their health. Cooling down your horse after horse riding is essential in any weather.
A thorough cool down is always vital, but because summer rides are held in hot, frequently humid weather, your horse is more prone to becoming dehydrated while training. Maintain an eye on the heat index and plan your rides properly so that both you and your horse get enough exercise without overdoing it.
Follow these general guidelines for cooling down a horse after a ride to ensure your horse's comfort when you return it to its stable.
Take a walk
Going for a walk is the first piece of horse care advice for properly cooling down your horse. Cool down in the same way as you would after a bike ride by walking and stretching.
After the horse ride, dismount your horse and lead him around for 10 to 15 minutes at a slow walk. This will help his muscles cool down gradually and give you time to check him over for any problems.
Avoid the sun
If it’s a sunny day, try to cool your horse down in the shade. If there is no shade available, walk him in circles so that he doesn’t get a chance to stand in one spot and heat up. Walking in circles will also help keep his blood circulating properly. Avoid walking in a straight line as this can cause your horse to stiffen up.
Don’t hose your horse down right away
Hosing your horse down immediately after horse riding can cause his muscles to tense up and make him cold. It can also wash away any sweat that’s still on his coat, which is good for cooling him down.
Offer a drink
Once your horse has been cooled down, part of horse care is to always provide him with water. It’s important to let him drink as much as he wants so that he can rehydrate. If he doesn’t want to drink right away, that’s okay. Just make sure there is fresh water available for him when he gets thirsty.
Hose or sponge your horse down
After your horse has had a chance to drink, you can hose him down or sponge him off with cool water. Start from his neck and work your way down his body. Avoid getting water in his ears and eyes.
Use a cooler if you need to
If it’s a particularly hot day, you can use a cooler to help your horse cool down. Soak a horse cooler in cold water and then drape it over your horse’s back. You can also wet his legs with cool water and then wrap them in horse leg wraps.
Dry your horse off
Once you’ve finished hosing or sponging your horse down, dry him off with a towel. This will help him cool down even more and prevent any dehydration.
Give your horse time to rest
After you’ve cooled your horse down, it’s important to give him some time to rest. It is part of horse care that will allow his muscles to recover and prevent any injuries. Let him stand in his stall for at least 30 minutes so that he can fully cool down.
Cooling your horse down after horse riding is essential for his health and well-being. The way you manage horse care and recovery after exercising or competing has a significant impact on how well he performs. This is especially relevant if you're competing in a tournament where he has to run multiple times in one day or participate over several days.
Maintaining your horse's cool down and healing well will help him cognitively cope with both horse riding and competition while also minimizing the time until he is ready to participate again. A protracted and unpleasant healing period could have a long-term impact on his behaviour and desire to practice or compete.
By following the horse care steps mentioned above, you can help ensure that your horse is comfortable and healthy after a horse ride, even on the hottest summer days!