Chilling Them Out

Hey, it’s Barb. I want to talk to you about something that’s been bugging me a bit.

I’m not one to get on a lot of soap boxes, and I’m not getting on one about this. I’m just hopefully raising awareness for a simple idea that we all know: cooling down our horses after a workout.

Hey, it’s Barb. I want to talk to you about something that’s been bugging me a bit.

I’m not one to get on a lot of soap boxes, and I’m not getting on one about this. I’m just hopefully raising awareness for a simple idea that we all know: cooling down our horses after a workout.

It seems that lately when I’ve been going to different venues or noticing horses that are in training — after they’re done, people tie them up or take them straight to be unsaddled.

They might be hot and wet as they stand there and wait for a long time, huffing and puffing.

I don’t think people intend to do the wrong thing with their horses in this situation. But sometimes, it’s inconvenient to take the time to cool a horse out (which I think is a wonderful time to spend with your horse.)

But in some environments, it’s not perceived as an inefficient use of time.

(Barb comes close to the camera.)

You can see that Nic has a light sweat—a tiny bit of a lather.

He’s huffing and puffing pretty well.

As a bit of background, Nic has a limited airway because of a successful surgery that was done on him as a young horse. He was a wobbler. You can see the surgical line here on his jaw. He’s done great throughout his life—he’s 15 now—but he is a bit hard to keep in shape because of his airway.

So I’ve been gone, and he’s been living the good life in the pasture.

This morning, I exercised him to talk about this idea of cooling down.

(Barb starts riding again away from the camera.)

So here’s what happens when we don’t cool a horse down.

Horses get hot, internally and externally. When they stop moving and are not cooled down after exercise, blood pools in their muscles, and there’s extra heat in them. So, if they’re not cooled down and walked out, they can get sore muscles, and in the winter, they can get a respiratory illness or be affected in other ways.

It’s also good for their health and well-being to get them moving until their respiratory rate is above average.

That’s basically it. I’m not trying to make it any more complicated except to encourage you to walk your horse out.

You can do it on the ground or on their back.

Just keep moving slowly to keep the blood flowing and help rid the muscles of excessive heat and lactic acid. This relaxes the muscles and helps the horse gradually return to a more normal respiration rate.

So that’s it. It’s nothing more complicated than that, but it’s an important thing to do for your horse.

I hope you have a great week.

Leave a comment for me. Maybe you can expand on this topic or talk about what you do. I’d love to hear from you. Bye-bye.

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9 Comments on Chilling Them Out

  1. Stephanie on Sun, 12th May 2024 1:47 pm
  2. Thank you Barb. I learn so much from you. I hope to ride with you in person someday.

  3. Cathy on Sun, 12th May 2024 2:08 pm
  4. Barb,
    Thank you for highlighting this important topic. I am a ‘new’ horseperson. Granted, now ‘new’ means 10+ years, but I didn’t grow up with them. While I ‘rode’, I didn’t understand what riding was and am still working on that. Our horses are our teammates. I was an athlete in my younger years. We didn’t start a practice/game without a warm-up and we didn’t finish a practice or a game without a cool-down. I spend this cool-down time with my horses to tell them, out loud, what they mean to me and how proud I am to be their ‘hooman’; also what we did well and what we will work on for next time. Just because the practice/class is over, doesn’t mean we don’t look after their well-being – and our own.

  5. Jackie on Sun, 12th May 2024 2:38 pm
  6. Thank you, Barb, for bringing awareness of this important topic. Whether we are working our one beloved horse at home or whether we are responsible for a large training facility of top show horses, it is part of our responsibility to do all we can to ensure the health and fitness of our equine athletes. This includes a cool-down after exercise.

    At home I may do a light trail ride at a walk after a workout. My riding area is a way from my saddling area, so my horse is usually cooled out by walking back. On the infrequent occasion that my horse is really hot and blowing, I loosen girths and hand walk until cool. I remember many years ago spending seemingly hours hand walking out show horses after the trainer had ridden them. I always hand walked my 3 day event horses after a hard workout or competition, using anti-sweat sheets or coolers as indicated by the weather and the needs of the horse.

  7. Kelly on Sun, 12th May 2024 4:03 pm
  8. Hi Barb
    Clean out, your horse also helps the horse not to tie up.
    If it’s hot outside or too cold outside, and they’ve worked hard and you tied them up instead of walking them out, they themselves can tie up and then you’re on your way to the vet.
    Thanks for sharing

  9. Joanne Milton on Sun, 12th May 2024 6:47 pm
  10. My students LOVE it when I tell them to go for a walk around the back field after a lesson! And so do my horses! It is so important for both of them…

  11. Lucille on Sun, 12th May 2024 11:33 pm
  12. I would add to be sure to loosen the girth and remove any boots or leg wraps that are on your horse before you start the cool down walk.

  13. Christy Agan on Mon, 13th May 2024 10:29 am
  14. Thank you, Barb for this super important but often overlooked tip! After an arena workout, I love to go into the woods and cool down on the trail. It allows my horse to view the “big outdoors” as a relaxing place and lets me reflect on our work out and plan for the next one. I need to get better about this at shows!

  15. Carol MacGregor on Mon, 13th May 2024 2:01 pm
  16. Hi Barb, What good advice and example you are showing with walking Nic to cool him out. I will take this to heart myself. Thank you very much. 😉

  17. Roxanne on Tue, 14th May 2024 6:59 am
  18. Hi, great topic. Made me think.this applies to us as well. That cooling down is related to the soaking in of the experience we just went through together, a relaxation of our intent. A reward of decompression. A healthy exhale, for us all.

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