The main reasons for this difference between humans and horses are:
• Horses are larger and have more active muscle during exercise, which produces more heat
• Horses can sweat 15 to 20 litres per hour in cool, dry condition and up to 30 litres per hour in hot, humid conditions.
• Horses can only use about 25% to 30% of this sweat to cool themselves.
• Humans can use up to 50% of their sweat to cool themselves.
• The salt in horse sweat is four time more concentrated than in humans so they loose electrolytes faster and dehydrate quicker.
His tips for protecting horses from the harmful effects of overheating and dehydration are:
• Teach your horse to drink an electrolyte solution, which is water with the right amount of salts dissolved in it – follow the manufactures instructions or veterinary advice. It can take a while for the horse to get used to this drink, so teach the horse before you really need it. Keeping your horse hydrated is the most important thing you can do to protect against heat stress.
Plain water will not rehydrate a horse quickly and concentrated salts (such as pastes), without the horse drinking enough water at the same time, could make matters worse.
• Acclimatize your horse to the hot conditions before you get to the event. To do this your horse needs to spend about 4 hours per day at least 5 days per week for 3 weeks before the event. For the best results exercise the horse for an hour during the second hour of his heat exposure.
Most riders choose early morning or late afternoon when it is cooler, unfortunately this may not prepare the horse for competition or an activity which is held at the hottest time of the day.
• When you are at the event look for shade and breezes to cool down.
• Never use a blanket or ‘cooler’ on a horse that is sweating.
• The best way to cool a horse is to wet their body and scrape off, wet the body again and scrape off. Continue to do this and you can reduce a horses temperature by 2° in 10 minutes.
You need to scrape the excess water off the horse otherwise it heats up and stops the cooling process.
• Lastly, make sure that you pack all the necessary equipment you will need to cool your horse and keep him hydrated