Dear Mr. Ed,
I hesitate to ride my horse during the cold winter months. What do I do if he gets sweaty and it's cold outside?,
Signed, Just Wondering
Dear Just Wondering,
Working a horse into a sweat during cold weather means having to cool him out carefully. A cooler can help you accomplish that. Like the lightweight sweatshirt in your gym bag, a cooler is a useful part of a working horse’s winter wardrobe. Made from warm but breathable materials, coolers control the rate at which a hot horse cools down, reducing the risk of chills. Most coolers do this in three ways:
• by wicking moisture away from the horse’s skin and onto the fabric’s outer surface, where it evaporates.
• by blocking the wind, which will literally blow away the heat produced by the horse’s body.
• by trapping and retaining warmth between the fibers of the fabric to act as insulation.
To get the greatest benefit from a cooler, toss it over your hot, sweaty horse and walk him until his pulse and respiration rates return to normal. Then, keep him in a draft-free area, with the cooler on, until his skin feels warm---not hot---to the touch. But be watchful while he is wearing a cooler: Some do not secure as well as regular blankets, which makes it easier for a horse to become tangled.
When your horse’s coat is mostly dry and his skin feels nearly normal in temperature, you can put on his regular blanket and call it a day. Or, if he’s a real man and doesn’t wear a blanket all the time, make sure he’s brushed out thoroughly before putting him back out in his stall. An important part of any horse's winter wardrobe, coolers help hot horses cool down without the risk of chill.
Well, that’s what the experts say. Directly from the horses’ mouth, Mr. Ed recommends NOT working your horse into a sweat at all, any time of year. Why? What’s so great about exercise? However, if you do, be sure the cooler is stylish, in colors that match or at least coordinate with your horse’s coat, feed plenty of treats while he’s drying and of course, brush, brush, brush until he shines before putting him back in his cozy stall. Oh, and don't forget the fresh shavings and a nice big flake of alfalfa.
If you have a question for Mr. Ed, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org He will answer your question if he feels like it. He is a horse after all.