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Hosing horses down in the sweltering weather is very refreshing for them. Not only humans but also horses sweat profusely in the heat, particularly when engaged in physical activities. It’s only natural to offer the horses a hose-down after a ride to wash away the sweat and provide a cooling effect. However, there are a few essential considerations to bear in mind.

Horses have a delicate cardiovascular system

Subjecting a heated body to a sudden blast of cold water can place a significant strain on the cardiovascular system. Just as we don’t plunge into a chilly lake after exercising, it’s advisable to acclimate gradually to the cold temperature, starting with our feet, to prevent the body from going into shock.

Therefore, always start the hose-down process with the legs and proceed gradually upwards, avoiding directing a cold water jet directly onto the sweaty flanks. When starting with the legs, it means you should start all the way at the bottom: with the hooves. Many people begin by targeting the carpal joint or even higher. However, in this area, there are specific connections known as anastomoses, acting as “short circuits” between arteries and veins. The cold water shock can open these connections, causing blood to flow directly from the arteries into the veins and significantly reducing hoof circulation. Clearly, this is an undesired outcome as we don’t want the blood volume to accumulate in the lower limbs. Therefore, always start hosing the horse down at the hooves and gradually work your way upwards.

The rule of thumb is to start from the bottom and progress to the top, from the back to the front. Proceed slowly up all four legs towards the heart (chest).

With these steps are followed, horses can truly relish the cold shower. Especially if they have the opportunity to roll in the sand afterward!