This month we look at care of the horse after strenuous exercise.
Cross country. Horses are athletes, they are built for endurance, speed and efficiency. Their muscles use a lot of energy, and a very large amount of that energy is released as heat. The heat causes the body temperature to rise and respiration increase.
Cold water cooling. Apply cold water to all parts of the horses body, paying particular attention to the large muscles. Ice cold water is great. Scrape and reapply cold water regularly. It is important that large amounts of water does not sit on the horses coat as this then begins to insulate the horse.
It is also very important to keep the horse walking while you wash as this will increase their blood flow. The cooling of the horse should continue until their temperature is 38/49oC or when the water you scrape off is cool!!
When washing pay attention to any cuts, scrapes, swellings or any other abnormalities. Offer the horse a drink but don’t let them guzzle too much at one time.
It is advised that you monitor the horses drinking so you know that they have rehydrated. An effective cooling off programme will result in better physical condition and will recover quicker from exercise.
It is important to cool the legs as well. I personally like using ice cube bags which you make and apply to the legs, they cover the important parts of the legs. Remember to use a jay cloth first so the ice does not touch the horses leg as this can cause ice burn. To secure this in place you can use a boot or bandage. Icing should be done at 20 minute intervals, 20 mins on, 20 mins off, and repeat as necessary.
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