On Mythbuster Monday, we tackle a variety of equestrian myths to either bust or confirm. Today’s discussion: Does hosing your horse off in hot weather cause them to overheat?
It’s Mythbuster Monday, where Horse Nation dives into different equestrian myths and provides research-based evidence to either bust or confirm those myths. Today’s topic: Does hosing your horse off in hot weather cause them to overheat? Does evaporation create more heat? Does it happen with both warm and cool water? Read further to find out!
Myth: Hosing your horse in hot weather causes overheating
Myth or Fact: Myth
After a long day of competing or riding on a hot summer afternoon, your routine may be to untack and hit the wash area. It’s on these days that you may hear the myth that you shouldn’t hose your horses in hot weather because as the water evaporates, it causes the horse to overheat.
According to an article by Savvy Horsewoman, this is a myth. She states that it’s good practice to hose down your horse after a workout, or even just because it’s hot outside. She compares the water evaporating off the skin to sweat and states this actually helps the horse to cool down.
Equimed also states that this is a myth in their article. They provide research that shows that hosing down a hot horse with cold water does not cause any negative effects. Research was done on show horses in the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta. Their research concluded that horses who received cold water baths after performing in hot conditions maintained acceptable core body temperature and reduced heart rate during rest periods.
To further debunk this myth, Equimed states that to cool an overheated horse, you hose the horse with cool water and scrape the water off to accelerate evaporation. The evaporation mechanism allows the horse to lose heat and cool down.
Make sure to scrape the water off to allow for evaporation. If you allow the water to sit, it may cause an insulation and increase the horse’s body temperature.
Horse and Rider also wrote an article taking a stance on this myth. They state that the evaporation of sweat is necessary for efficient heat removal. It’s important to note that heat is also lost by conduction so as long as the water temperature is cooler than your horse’s body surface, it will cool down your horse. The colder the water, the more heat will be lost.
The University of California published an article titled, “Keeping Horses Healthy in Hot Weather.” This article states that at the minimum, to cool a horse down on a hot day, pour a bucket of water over him. If you have access to hosing, it is the most effective way to lower a horse’s body temperature on a hot day. Continuous application of water to the horse over the entire body is the most effective cooling method. Their research showed that failing to remove the excess water did not have any detrimental effects on health and sweat scraping was not necessary.
After diving into the research, there is evidence that shows horsing your horse in hot weather is the most effective way to cool him down. The evaporation of the hose water is a cooling mechanism rather than an overheating process. The cooler the weather the faster you’ll cool down your horse. Don’t mark this option off the list to cool your horse down due to this myth!
Do you have an equine myth you’d like us to tackle? If so, send it our way! Email your suggestions to [email protected]. Put Mythbuster Monday in your subject line.