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What is So Cool About Horse Sweat
 By Winniefield Park   •   14th Mar 2018   •   996 views   •   0 comments


If you exercise your horse a bit hard, or the summer air temperature soars, youíll probably notice your horseís coat becoming damp. Thatís because it is sweating. During really hard work, say a really intense schooling session or any sort of competition that requires your horse to exert itself, even a tough trail ride, your horse could be drenched in sweat. This is your horseís cooling system at work. Horses are among the small number of animals that produce sweat all over their bodies. Sweat glands sit beneath the skin, and the sweat rises to the surface through pores. The sweat is made up of water, waste cellular material, salts and proteins.

A long time ago, we believed that if a horse became lathered, it was a sign the horse was not fit. As it turns out, all horses will lather if they sweat a lot due to stress or hard work. A young or unfit horse probably just starts to sweat sooner. Youíll often see foam build up between the back legs or under the straps of a harness or breast collar. This happens because the sweaty area is being rubbed and like whisking soapy water, bubbles form.

The lather foams because horse sweat contains a protein named latherin. Latherin is a surfactant. Surfactants reduce the surface tension of the liquids they are mixed into. So basically, they make liquid Ďslippierí.

An example of a surfactant at work is dish soap. If you try to wash a greasy pan with plain water, most of the grease will probably stick the pan, and some will stick to your dishcloth. Add in a dab of dish soap, and the water will carry away all the grease more easily.

So why is there a surfactant in horse sweat? After all, someone might say they are Ďall in a latherí, but human sweat doesnít lather like horse sweat. This could be because we are not totally covered in hair like a horse, and our body mass to surface area ratio is much smaller. We donít have huge heat generating muscles like a horse and we cool off much faster. Our sweat has more salts in it, and very little protein. Latherin is thought to aid in the sweating process, helping the sweat spread faster through the coat oils that waterproof your horse.

Latherin isnít just a component of sweat. It is also in a horseís saliva. Here, it could aid in the horse being able to wet down tough, dry fodder as it chews. Horse relatives such as donkeys asses, and zebras also produce the latherin protein. Latherin isnít found in the sweat or saliva of any other animal.

Latherin isnít the only component of horse sweat. Salts, called electrolytes are also lost through sweating. That's why if a horse is working hard and sweating a lot, electrolyte supplements may be a good idea.

If your horse sweats, you should rinse the sweat off so its coat can recover the oils that help to waterproof it. If you donít wash off the sweat, youíll notice that your horseís coat will be dry and dull. Sebaceous glands sit at the base of each hair, and a rinse and grooming can help pull the oils along the hair shaft, replacing the horseís waterproofing and making itís coat shine. Leaving a lot of sweat on the coat may actually damage it.

Sweating isnít just a sign of hard work or hot weather. A nervous horse will sweat and a sick or injured horses may break out in sweat. If your horse is just standing sweating, and itís not hot out, itís wise to check for other symptoms that might indicate an illness.
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