While the majority of equine owners and caretakers know that hosing a horse is a quick way to cool him off, many still believe that the water must be scraped from the horse's body to reduce his temperature; they feel that not removing the excess water will actually make the horse hotter.
Dr. David Marlin, an equine thermoregulation expert, debunked the myth to Horse & Hound. Marlin worked extensively with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to ensure competition horses were safe in the hot and humid conditions. Marlin is working to get the scientific word out: scraping off water is not necessary.
He points out that wild horses get wet from standing in the rain and they're not scraped of excess water–and none of them perish from the water left on their skin. Though cold water used to hose down a horse will get warmer as heat passes from the horse to the water, the horse is in no danger of “cooking” from the water.
The colder the water and the hotter the horse, the more rapidly the horse will cool down as the heat moves from the horse to the water. If a horse is in a heat stroke situation, it's best to continuously run cold water over the horse. Stopping the application of water to scrape is wasting time that should be spend cooling the horse as rapidly as possible.
Though some horse owners and caretakers believe that cool water should only be applied to specific body parts that have large blood vessels, Marlin stressed that the cool water should be applied all over the body for a maximum cooling effect. Marlin also advises the horse be allowed to drink as much as he wants before he exerts himself and immediately after exercise. It's a myth that cold water will harm a hot horse.
Read more at Horse & Hound.
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