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RE: Heat, Humidity and Cooling (and other things)

OK, I'll pick up on Ramey's excellent discussion about heat and
humidity, having done all of my endurance competitions on the east
coast.  We have all learned to sponge "on the fly" with a wet sponge
dipped in every puddle and stream that we trot or canter past.  Sponge
it on, wait a few seconds, sponge it off.  Doing this, I've had my horse
stay cool and sometimes even dry out between water.  Getting ready to
compete in heat and humidity means training in the heat of the day
(don't over do it), not clipping that winter coat until just before ride
season, and perfecting that sponging technique.  

In vet checks, if there's shade, get in it.  Keep sponging the horse
with cool or even ice water.  We always kept the ice water for the lower
legs and large veins of the fore and hind legs.  Some people stand their
horses in ice wraps or boots, using old support boots placed loosely
around the leg and pouring ice/water into them.  It's important to put
the water on, then remove it to keep the cooling going.

Two interesting thing I learned at the Hilary Clayton Sport Horse
seminar this spring were:  From research done for the horses at the
Olympics in Atlanta, putting ice cold water on the horse did not affect
them, even putting it on the large muscle masses.  I, for one, am not
going to be the one to try this for endurance!!  The theory is that the
ice water only cools to just below the skin and will not cause cramping.
Someone else try it, not me!!  The second thing, which I find makes
sense, is the build up of heat under support boots (brush boots, sports
medicine boots, etc.).  They've measured the temperature of the tendons
under these things and found it to be quite high.  If you use them, get
them off as soon as you get into the vet check and cool your horse's
legs.  The other thing they have found is that after the first few
minutes of wear, none of the boots, including the sports medicine boots,
provide much support.  It seems that once the material is stretched as
the horse strides out, it does not have enough "rebound" to continue to
provide a lot of support and your horse is probably better off learning
to use himself without outside support.  If you are using them for
protection against the elements or because your horse overstrides,
that's fine.  

Electric fences...even a trained horse will go through an electric
corral at a ride if panicked enough, as my mare, who lives in electric
fenced pasture (internal, not perimeter electric) can attest to.  You
can't get her to go near the pasture fence, but a badly flapping tent at
a ride was enough to kick that flight instinct into high gear.  My next
investment will be a solid corral.  I had a friend have to put her
gelding put down after escaping from an electric corral at a ride in New
Jersey one year.

Question for Ramey and other "lawyer-types" out there.  On our first
competition, my mare thought kicking anything that was within distance
was fair game.  Quite a surprise to me, since she'd never done it in
training.  We've corrected the problem but I always tie a red ribbon in
her tail, just to be safe.  It also is pretty effective in keeping
people off your butt!  (Hang a light stick from the red ribbon for the
pre-dawn starts.) Am I leaving myself open for a negligence suit if she
kicks a horse or person, since I'm announcing that I have a potential

Raining again in So. Calif.!

Barb, Wind Dancer, Whisper, and Katie

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