More About Horse Coolers
You may have seen a winning racehorse covered in a cooler after his victory. A rider at your barn may have won a cooler as a horse show prize. What exactly are horse coolers, and why do you need them? When a horse undergoes exercise in cooler weather and sweats, he needs protection from the cold. That’s what a cooler, generally made from fleece or wool, provides. Coolers are absolutely essential after riding in cold weather on an unclipped, sweating horse. Recently bathed horses also need to stay warm if temperatures start dropping. Coolers not only help your horse dry faster but they wick moisture away from his body, reducing the chances of his becoming chilled and subsequently sick. Coolers come in a rainbow of shades and trimmings to complement your horse or stable colors.
Horse Cooler Styles
Horse colors come in two basic styles. The racehorse cooler type - which is fine to use on show or pleasure horses - covers the horse from ears to tail. The other type of cooler resembles a stable blanket or sheet. Which type of cooler to choose depends on personal preference, climate and whether the cooler is used to dry a sweaty or recently bathed horse. For the former, many horse owners prefer the full neck cooler.
Choosing the Right Size
Horse coolers don’t always fit the way blankets or sheets do. Some coolers are meant to cover the horse from the back of his ear to his tail, and these will not include chest straps. Because most coolers aren’t designed for overnight use, they often include just one surcingle and do not have leg straps to keep them in place. To find the right size cooler for your equine, measure him from mid-chest to just beyond the tail. If there are horse coolers for sale that extend to the neck, measure from just behind your horse’s ears to just past his tail.
Horse Cooler Materials
- Fleece Coolers – Fleece, or the synthetic version, is the material of choice for most coolers. Not only are they machine washable, but fleece coolers are less expensive than other types of fabric. Fleece is also warm, but not bulky.
- Cotton Coolers – Natural cotton allows your horse to cool down quickly as it wicks away moisture.
- Wool Coolers – Wool coolers are top-of-the-line, and while you can’t put them in the washing machine or dryer, they’re the most durable fabric. If you live in a cold climate, wool is your best choice.
Combination Horse Coolers
Some coolers perform double duty. Fleece/mesh coolers are also useful as a blanket liner, or put one on your horse at shows to keep him clean. You will likely need a heavier cooler if you ride in cold weather.
Using a Horse Cooler
Horse coolers are best used in one of two ways: Either while you are walking your horse while cooling him down or allowing him to dry, or when he is standing in cross ties. You can leave a horse in his stall for a short time with a cooler on if you keep an eye on him, but there’s always the possibility he will try to roll. Avoid putting a blanket on top of the cooler – it defeats the cooler’s purpose of wicking away sweat and moisture. Feel beneath the cooler regularly to see if he is dry. Once there’s no more wetness, remove the cooler. You’ll see that all that moisture transferred to the horse cooler, which is how it is meant to work. Care for the cooler according to the manufacturer’s instructions.