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Horse Icing And Cooling

Sometimes we can't avoid the heat.  On those days, keep an eye on the Heat Exercise Index, and keep cooling and icing products on hand.  The Heat Exercise Index is the sum of the temperature plus the humidity.  For example:  if the temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity is 20%, then the Heat Exercise Index is 100  (80+20=100).  If the Heat Index is less than 120, it is ok to ride.  Start watching is as it rises above 120, at 150 your horse's cooling system won't work effectively.  If it is greater than 180, your horse will be unable to thermo-regulate. 

Signs of Heatstroke:

  • A Respiratory Rate Higher than 30, that does not return to normal after several minutes of cooling off
  • A Heart Rate Higher than 80, that does not return to normal after several minutes of cooling off
  • Excessive sweating, or ceasing to sweat at all
  • Temperature of more than 103 F, that does not decrease after several minutes of cooling
  • Depression/Lethargy
  • "Thumps" - diaphragmatic flutter due to calcium loss.  You will see this as twitching of the stomach area.

If you see ANY of these problems, cool your horse with plenty of cold water, allow him to drink if he wants, and call your veterinarian!   Your veterinarian will decide if IV fluids and electrolytes are needed. 

Horses who do experience heatstroke should be rested for ten days and given a few days of light work before being brought back to normal work.  Keep in mind that horses that experience overheating are more prone to do so again, so best to prevent it in the first place! 

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10/7/2015 2:09:53 AM
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