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How to Keep Your Horse Cool
 By Winniefield Park   •   9th Sep 2017   •   829 views   •   0 comments


Whether to avoid heat stress or to treat an inflamed injury, there are lots of ways to cool your horse. Cold hosing is one way to treat injuries and can be very effective. But, it’s messy, not very portable and time-consuming. A cool bath with a hose, or standing in a pond can be fun, but not very convenient. Of course, horses need shade and cool water to drink during the dog days of summer. But sometimes, that just isn’t enough, especially if the horse is working. Here are a few ways you can provide your horse with some cooling relief in the summer heat.

Hats
A hat is a very useful item for keeping the sun off your head, the glare out of your eyes and the bugs out of your hair. There are hats for horses too, and they serve much the same function. The simplest of these are fly bonnets that protect the horse’s ears and the top of the head. For the best protection against the sun and heat, lighter colors are the best.

Then there are real hats, with brims and visors. You can find lots of examples on sites like Etsy and eBay. Some of these are hats made for humans hacked for horses. They come in a variety of materials and styles. There is everything from cowboy hats and sombreros to fascinators and fedoras. Many of these are strictly for costume and won’t do much to protect your horse. Others make an attempt to provide shade for your horse’s head and eyes and are specifically made to fit on a horse’s head securely.

Whatever type of hat you put on your horse, it probably shouldn’t be left on when your horse is unattended. If it’s straw, it will probably be eaten, and any hat could be a hazard if it slides out of place.

Fans
Enter a race barn and chances are you will find fans blowing on horses. These can serve two purposes. They help keep the horse cool and they help blow away the bugs. You want horses to be in top form, so you don’t want them spending energy stomping and swishing at the flies. You also don’t want them to stand sweating and overheated.

Some fans are portable and can be set up to send a breeze in a specific direction, or permanent overhead fans help cool more broad areas. Whatever type is used, fans need to be mounted so they can’t be knocked over or interfered with by the horses, and they need to be properly grounded like anything else that is going to be exposed to damp conditions and curious horses.

Vests, Bands, and Blankets
Most cooling blankets and vests need to be soaked briefly in water and then wrung out. The effect of evaporation helps cool your horse out after work, or on a very hot day. These come in a variety of designs. Some are complete blankets, others might only wrap around the chest area or neck. As the blanket or vest dries out, it needs to be soaked and wrung out again. Some of these blankets are meant to help dry a horse out in the winter too, encouraging evaporation of sweat on a hot horse. Some of these products claim they hold the cooling effect for hours and that their temperatures can be up to 10 degrees colder than the outside temperature.

If you have a dark colored horse that seems to absorb the heat of the sun, you might try a light colored fly sheet to protect its coat and deflect some of the heat. Fly sheets are made of a light mesh that lets the breeze through. They also may help protect the horse from flies.

Injury Relief
For cooling more specific areas, such as taking the heat out of sore joints and injuries, there are lots of products such as cooling leg wraps, boots, and appliances that circulate cold water through a wrap or boot or hold ice packs. The simplest ones are filled with a gel that can be soaked in cold water. They hold the cold for a short while, and once they’ve come to body temperature, can easily be re-wetted in cold water. These are not so useful for keeping a horse cooler in hot weather, but they can help take the inflammation out of injuries.

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