How to Cool Your Horse Down Properly in Cold Weather
After a winter work out, your horse will greatly benefit from a 10 to 15-plus minute walk to help prevent muscle soreness and to help their coat dry. While there is no "one method fits" all (your cool down process will vary depending on relative humidity in the air, whether your horse has done a light or heavy workout, and whether your horse is clipped or not) these general guidelines can help with the cooling down process in the winter months:
- After your workout, walk the horse either on foot or in the saddle until respiration is normal and the skin is dry.
- If you choose to dismount to and hand walk, be sure to loosen the girth slightly on your saddle but do not remove the saddle right away unless you plan on putting on a cooler immediately after. The goal is to have a slight increase in air flow around and under the saddled area - not to chill the horse.
- Never place a heavy winter blanket on a wet horse. Use a breathable cooler to wick any remaining excess moisture out and away from the skin first.
- Clipped horses cool down faster. A quarter sheet or cooler is recommended for the entire cool down process in this case.
- Plan your type of ride for the type of time that you have to properly cool your horse down after. For example, if your schedule is running tight, a light workout with a 10 minute cool down is best. Save the more intense workouts (and longer cool downs) for days when time is available.