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Cooling down a [very] wooly horse in the winter….?

This topic contains 28 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  G & S 2 years, 5 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 29 total)
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  • Liz Original Poster Liz
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 17

    Hi Everybody!

    I was wondering if anyone had any tips for cooling down a very very fuzzy horse in the winter months? The past couple of times I have driven my boy he has been drenched with sweat under the breast collar, the belly band, and on the insides and backs of his hind legs (about where the breeching goes). I tossed a cooler on him and tried rubbing him down with dry towels, but no matter how long I stay at it he still feels damp.

    How do you dry off a sweaty horse in the winter time when they have a super thick coat of hair?

    (please note: I don’t believe a trace clip is an option here. The barn is not heated and I don’t want to rid him of his protection from the cold)

    Any advice, tricks, or tips would be appreciated :)

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    I am not a big fan of clipping, either, tho I accept its purpose when there is need. For some reason, trace clips always look like they are exposing vulnerable areas that are already….vulnerable. Same with fly sheets, etc. They don’t cover the bite-able/potential frost bite zones. I use them but have little expectation of them. Comforts me more than my horses at times, I think… I will mention, however, that a flannel sheet thrown under your cooler will wick away sweat very efficiently. Best if your cooler is wool and not polar fleece, PF being a nylon base, keeping heat and moisture IN…I personally find polar fleece to be countre-productive (on a horse), more often than not..

    As for dealing with woolly coats and working horses, there is an attachment that can be applied to most standard type clippers that will NOT clip the hair too close to the skin, one can actually regulate the length of cut (can we say…Flow-Bee? : D). I understand and don’t disagree with your reluctance to do so, but if this is a possibility (finding the right attachment: dog groomers will know what I refer to, for sure), perhaps just a bit of a longer trace clip can help? Or possibly half clip only the areas of issue? Other than that, my extreme intelligence and experience says: more towels, time and treats : D

    Wish I could actually help you, Liz.

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    If you walk him the last mile back in, he should be cool. He might still be damp, but a good cooler and more walking should do the trick. Which is your main concern – is he hot, or is he just still wearing wet sweat?

    It is never the horse's fault

    Liz Original Poster Liz
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 17

    Still sweaty. I walk him out with the cart, then unhitch and walk him without the cart with a loose belly band. My main concern is him still being wet with sweat. I don’t want him to get chilled.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    I would go with pheets on the wetness – a wool cooler (and they are easy to make yourself, if you can find a place that actually sells wool fabric) is the best thing to help him dry. Just a large rectangle that covers the necessary parts of him, not fitted like a sheet or blanket.

    It is never the horse's fault

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    This might be well off the beaten path (imagine: ME being off the beaten path : D) in practicality for you but, as we know of many grooms that use a vacuum for grooming and it is widely accepted as long as the horse is amenable….why not could a hair dryer for the thin spots be useful? Low heat, low airflow, blower in one hand, towel rubbing with the other.. I would think might feel pretty good…for some anyway..

    It is the time consumption as well as the desire and humanity of not leaving a wet horse in the cold that compounds the effort tho as long as he is cool, he can stand as long as you need for such things as hair drying, cookies, love and adoration, etc. : )

    Per usual and again, I agree with Joe-Joe on walking the last mile or so, and the ease of making your own cooler.

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    MHBTAvatar
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 31

    I know a lot of people who employ the blow dryer, and I still do on occasion (did it a lot when he lived outside!) It still takes a while, and you want to make sure your dryer isn’t blowing too hot, but if your horse will tolerate it (and I think most will if they’re generally sane and it’s introduced slowly), it’s a very useful tool. I would cover most of him with a wool cooler while working on one area and then just keep moving around, keeping the areas you’re not working on covered & cozy until he’s all dried out. You may also have to go over him a few times if he gets antsy with the blower being on one area for too long at a stretch.

    I also know a trainer who, when her horses are 90% or 95% dry, feels leaving a fitted wool cooler under a breathable stable sheet overnight gives them a little warmth and helps wick the rest of that lingering dampness away. I haven’t done it myself, but the theory makes sense to me, as long as you’re using a fabric like wool (NEVER COTTON) that insulates when wet and wicks moisture away from your horse instead of trapping it. Of course, if he’s outside and there’s any chance of precipitation, this isn’t the way to go because he’ll never dry out with moisture on both sides of the blankets.

    If you simply don’t have the time for a serious cooling out ritual, I think you’re only left with the option of clipping (and I agree, you probably want to use a blade that doesn’t take off too much hair) and purchasing a quality blanket and hood.

    ShilohsGirl ShilohsGirl
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 49

    I agree. We had a Welsh pony who had cushings, and in the winter, he would be so sweaty. (To get an idea of how bad this horse was: It was -20 out and we put a light blanket on him (he lived outside) went to check him ten minuted later and he was so sweaty!) I would walk him in the arena with a cooler on for ten minutes, then I would fold the back part of the blanket up, and rub it with a towel, then fold that partof the cooler down and groom his chest. Time consuming, yes, but he was always dry when I put him away. I will have to try a blow dreyer, though.

    "Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art" ~George Morris

    elizabeth_richards
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 8

    I have a Purebred Polish Arabian who gets very wooly during the winter months. When she sweats in the winter I usually take a warm damp sponge to the sweaty spots and walk her around for 15-30 minutes. Usually that is enough. When it isn’t I typically throw a cooler on her and keep walking. I would stay away from fabrics that keeps moisture locked in. The flannel was a good idea! Now that my horse is 24 (almost 25) years old it’s really important to keep her in tip top shape.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Elizabeth – Yours gets a lot of coat? Mine (by NF Proof out of Genesa by Pepton) only gets more like a fall sweater than a winter coat.

    It is never the horse's fault

    angie_bauer
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I recommend using a blow dryer and curry comb to fluff the hair as much as possible. Additionally, since it sounds like he is only sweaty in certain spots you can try putting him away not completely dried. The key is to make sure that he has started to dry and returned to a normal body temperature. You don’t want him to reheat and get sweaty again under a blanket, that is when they get chilled. If he is naked, then he will continue to cool out naturally. I would always pay attention to the weather, obliviously be more sensitive it is inclement weather or abnormally cold.

    AmyJean
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 12

    Sorry to say I would clip. These are my reasons.
    I’ve dealt with the extremely hairy Cushings horse… In 20 min of work he’d be soaked enough to need hours to cool out. I had to full clip him. I simply couldn’t spend hours cooling him out.
    My young ASB is from Maine and as a 6 month old he was as fluffy as the old Cushings boy. So for the first few years I didn’t need to blanket him. But since he was 3 I’ve clipped him. Because he is outside, with shelter of course, the majority of the time, I clip just enough to allow him to cool quickly. From under his chin, down his chest, and to the girth. This is not an agressive clip, he cools quickly and still keeps warm with a winter blanket.
    Best of luck.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    AmyJean – climate is a really huge factor in this discussion. Since we all seem to be in different areas, most of us are basing our decisions and suggestions on what works for us and our horses determined by where we live.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Liz Original Poster Liz
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 17

    Joe-Joe,

    My horse gets an extremely thick and long winter coat (he is a mini). I live in northern Illinois (almost Wisconsin) so the winter here is very harsh. It could be mild and 20 degrees one day and then be windy with a 10 below zero wind chill the next. Last year we got down to a 50 below zero wind chill in February (needless to say, the horses were inside a lot).

    I’ve taken some of the suggestions here and have been walking him out for the last 15 minutes or so, then unhitching and walking a few more laps before I untack him and throw a cooler on him. Then I just use towels and stiff brush and leave him in the cross ties with the cooler on while I put away his cart and everything else. He’s usually dry or very close at this point.

    It is a bit hard since everyone here is from a different climate, but I certainly do appreciate all of the ideas and suggestions! :)

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Liz,

    It is sometimes confusing. My horse is an Arabian (Polish) who gets more of a fall sweater than a winter coat, and also he doesn’t get hot. For us, really cold is generally in the mid-30s, and average is 40-50. We do get occasional real cold, but more often we are worried that the horses should not have blankets on at all rather than are they going to be warm enough!

    Summer, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. 90 is about average and 75 would be considered downright frigid then. So, we often have to stop in the middle of a lesson or schooling session and sponge them down to keep them from overheating.

    Anyone who knows a place where weather is always perfect, do let me know!

    It is never the horse's fault

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