By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg
If you’ve been reading our blogs, then you already know that engaging in adequate warm-up exercises with your horse before every ride is an important part of a routine designed to make the most of your horse’s athletic abilities. And just like warm-ups, cool-down exercises after a ride are a critical part of caring for your equine athlete. But what do the words “cool down” actually refer to?
BEST PRACTICES FOR AN EFFECTIVE COOL-DOWN
So, what’s the best way to cool down a hot horse? Many riders spend the last ten to fifteen minutes of every ride walking their horse on a loose rein as a cool-down period. Some riders like to dismount, loosen the girth and hand-walk their horses for that same amount of time. Either method should be enough to allow your horse to cool and his breathing to return to normal unless he’s very out of shape or has been working incredibly hard. If that’s the case, continue walking your horse. Here are a few other tips for monitoring your horse’s cool-down process:
- Touch your horse’s neck periodically throughout your walk to monitor whether his temperature is decreasing. If your horse continues to feel warm to your touch, keep hand-walking or hand-grazing until he cools.
Watch your horse’s nostrils or flanks periodically to keep track of his respiratory rate.
- On very hot days, consider finding a shady spot to walk your horse.
Regardless of the weather, offer a cooling horse sips of fresh water to drink throughout the cool-down period. If your horse has been sweating heavily, he’ll need to replenish his body with plenty of water.
- In the summer, untack your horse and use the hose to help cool him down faster. Use a sweat scraper to flick the excess water off afterward, as water that sits on a hot horse’s coat will quickly absorb the heat and become warm.
If your horse has a long hair coat during the winter, you may need to walk your horse for a longer period and use a cooler or towel to cover sweaty spots to avoid giving your horse the chills.
(NOTE: If you notice your horse seems to have trouble regulating his temperature or doesn’t sweat normally, consult your veterinarian. Some horses can suffer from anhidrosis, which means they lack the ability to sweat in response to increased body temperature. These horses need medical attention.)
ADD DRAW IT OUT
If you’re looking to maximize your horse’s comfort even more during a cool-down period, consider using Draw It Out products! Try these tips to use products you already know and love in new and exciting ways.
Many #TeamDiO members love to use Draw It Out Horse Liniment
- Concentrate as a cooling spray after a hard workout or competition. A proprietary mineral blend based around an Epsom salt profile, this deep penetrating formula can be used as a soak, poultice or general body spray. #TeamDiO members enjoy spraying it on their horses’ shoulders, backs and hips to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain and soreness. It’s also safe to use before or during competition, since it consists of specially selected ingredients that are in compliance with FEI regulatory lists.
- Want to give your horse a nice bath after a workout? Use Draw It Out Soothing Horse Shampoo with Lavender! Biodegradable, sulfate-free and salt-free, this cleanser is formulated with a coconut-based surfactant so that it is both mild and efficient. Our shampoo contains lavender oil, Egyptian geranium oil and chamomile extract to help decrease anxiety and inflammation.
Think your horse could benefit from a spray with anti-inflammatory properties? Use Draw It Out PLUS! Ready To Use Spray. This veterinary strength liniment spray uses DiO’s proprietary organic botanical blends infused with arnica for enhanced anti-inflammatory properties. It’s long-lasting, safe for use during USEF and FEI competitions and made completely of natural ingredients. You can use it before or after competitions. It also works great to soothe pain and swelling associated with joints or muscles after a hard workout.