Equineguelph.ca - Full Article
Story by: Dr. Brianne Henderson
As we move through the height of our summer competition season, it is not uncommon to have multiple days of severe heat and humidity – the days when you sweat standing still. Heat and humidity can be harder on your horse than it is on you. Most of us have worked to motivate a sluggish horse through the final jump off or day 3 of a competition but why does it happen?
Was our training off the mark? Perhaps they need a different energy source in their feed? Or was it that energy zapping heat and humidity? In the next few pages we will take a close look at the role of sweating in the horses’ ability to cool and how extreme heat and humidity can affect their ability to perform.
What happens to horses while exercising in the heat?
As the horse begins to work, heat is produced as a by-product of muscle contraction at a 4:1 ratio! As the body temperature climbs and adrenaline levels increase, sweat glands respond by producing a hypertonic (highly concentrated) salt solution that coats the hair. Under normal circumstances horses cool by evaporative cooling and convection. The movement of air over their body is paramount to both of these mechanisms...
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