Study Shows Hosing Legs An Effective Cool-Down Strategy 

A Polish study sought to determine the best method to cool down horses after exercise.

Horses are susceptible to heat-related stress when asked to exert themselves in warm weather. This stress can cause a plethora of health problems including weakness, trouble breathing and muscle issues. In extreme cases, overheating can cause death.

Dr. Iwona Janczarek and a team of scientists from the University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland, used 19 Warmbloods for their study. The horses were exercised moderately in temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The researchers then employed three different cooling strategies using water at 62 degrees Fahrenheit; water was sponged or hosed (legs only) on each three times, 10 minutes apart, for 30 seconds. The areas tested included the legs only (water was hosed on the legs); over the hip and loin and behind the ears; over the hip and loin, behind the ears, and the legs.

Each horse was exercised and then cooled under the different protocols. The control horses were walked to cool down and were not hosed off at all. The temperature of each horse was taken before exercise, and then immediately after, as well as 10, 20 and 30 minutes after exertion.

The scientists discovered that sponging or hosing these specific areas did not decrease the rectal temperature post-exercise. The timing of the decrease in body surface temperature depended on which cooling method was used.

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They discovered that hosing the limbs with several water applications was most effective and most efficient at lowering surface body temperature. The team concluded that this method is sufficient for cooling out a leisure horse that has put forth medium or low-intensity effort in moderate temperatures.

The typical full-body shower after exercising does not affect thermoregulation, the scientists concluded.

Read the full study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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