Updated: Jan 13, 2020
It’s forecast 41oC today. At 7am it is already 26oC.
Recently I’ve mentioned pre-cooling to a couple of clients and been met with blank looks.
Pre-cooling is not some fancy technique reserved for elite level horses performing at big competitions. Pre-cooling is simply wetting or hosing your horse before you ride and benefits every horse and rider wanting to keep active over summer.
Once you have groomed and saddled up as usual, lead your horse to the wash bay and use the hose to lightly spray along the neck, belly, rump and legs (avoiding your tack). Then proceed to the mounting block and enjoy your ride. The water will evaporate off your horse drawing body heat away, so your horse starts the session cooler, and doesn’t begin sweating (and dehydrating) until further into your ride.
If you are doing more than just a short light ride, you can use water bottles to pour more cold water over your horse’s neck and rump whilst mounted, part way though your ride. You are also allowed to compete with your horse wetted.
Pre-cooling is not a replacement for cooling-down, it is an additional preventative measure to ensure the comfort of your horse. Any activity in the sun will make your horse hot, remember they have a large body mass so if you feel hot, your horse feels hotter. Even if you’ve just been for a walk along a trail, or lunged your horse they will still need cooling-down properly afterwards.
*Do pre-cool. *Do know your horses usual body temperature. *Do cool-down thoroughly afterwards. *Do ride in the early morning or later evening. *Do ride in shade. *Avoid getting your tack or seat of your jodphurs wet! *Don’t put ice on your horse before riding – ice is for afterwards. *Do remember skin temperature is different to core temperature. *Don’t scrape water off – do leave it to evaporate. *Do check out Dr David Marlin's website for further info on cooling legs, and hot horses.
Skin temperature after saddling up: about 32oC
Skin temperature immediately after wetting: about 30oC
Skin temperature after walking on a long rein for 5 mins as part of warm-up (water has evaporated): about 24oC
The water from the hose wasn’t exactly cold, but it still made a difference.
Temperature pictures are for example only, degree of cooling will vary with air temperature, water temperature, skin temperature, breeze, humidity, ...