Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association
January 22, 2010
The Cooling Mechanism
Image by: FreeFoto.com
My mental wanderings (between being gone to work for 13 hours yesterday) took me to an article written by Gayle Ecker, Heat Stress and the Endurance Horse the following are my take aways from this very well written article.
Sweat is what cools the horse, yes? Well- yes and no. Sweat is part of the mechanism of cooling, but it is actually EVAPORATION that cools the horse. This is why in hot and humid conditions we have so much difficulty cooling the horse because evaporation ceases. Interestingly, I did not realize that this applies also in temperatures as cool as 70 degrees F. If the humidity is high, regardless of temperature the horse will have difficulty cooling naturally (by evaporation).
Fluid out vs. Fluid in. Your horse will NOT be able to replace all of its fluid losses. Even the tanking up, slurping down, drinking well horse is going to have some fluid deficit. Based on equine physiology studies they concluded that 100% of horses will not be able to take in enough water to replace those fluid losses. So we are striving primarily to minimize fluid loss.
Water deficit is as much or more of an issue than electrolyte losses. When a horse becomes dehydrated the horse's blood volume decreases incrementally with the fluid loss. This reduces blood flow to the skin which in turn compromises naturally cooling through heat dissapation. Blood flow is reduced to the muscle resulting in decreased energy and less capacity for the removal of metabolic wastes (lactic acid), heat continues to build in the muscle as the fluid losses create loss of function on a cellular level. This sets up a situation that could result in tie-up. Next stop-the digestive tract. As fluids are drawn away from the digestive tract the horse becomes predisposed to colic.
So if water is the most critical component to our horse's well-being, and we are putting our horses into situations that will certainly create fluid deficit, what can we do?
*Electrolyte the horse prior to the competition to stimulate the drinking mechanism.
*Train in heat and humidity. Gradually expose the horse to the stressors that it will encounter on a ride.
*Slow down your pace on hot & humid days.
*Cool your horse at every opportunity between the vet checks. Sponging neck, chest, shoulders, and legs. Water applications should be scraped off, otherwise the water will act as an insulator rather than a cooling agent. Water on, water off.
*When gut sounds are bad (due to water losses) extend your hold time to allow blood flow to be restored to the gut, and the horse to begin tanking up on water, and eating normally.
*Be creative in getting water into your horse by adding grain rations, or other tasty things to the horses water. Feeding soupy yummy mashes, well soaked and soupy beet pulp, and soaked hay. Experiment at home and find out what your horse really goes for.
Gayle's article is well written, not overly technical, and a reminder that the most critical component to insuring a healthy horse at the finish is good old WATER.