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Bathing or washing off a horse in hot weather
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Laura A
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 Posted: Wed Aug 27th, 2014 06:27 pm
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Dear Dr. Deb
Yesterday I was discussing with a dressage trainer the bathing/rinsing of horses in hot weather. How critical is it to remove all excess water from your horse before turning him out regardless of knowing that he will roll? What are the dangers of turning a horse out wet from a bath/rinse especially in the summer heat? After talking with a number of horse owners I am surprised at the array of answers I've received. Dr.Deb-what is the safest way to bathe/rinse a horse in the heat? Thank you

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Aug 28th, 2014 03:00 am
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Laura, a lot of the answer depends upon where you live.

(1) Is the climate rainy and humid, i.e. Florida or the Carolinas or the northern 2/3rds of New Zealand? Or just plain rainy, i.e. western Oregon-Washington? These are areas where rain-rot is a problem, and horses have trouble getting dried out at any time, let alone right after a bath. In this case, you might have to take some care to get the horse more dry, or to ensure that he rolls in sand (see below) so that he dries himself.

(2) Is the climate the opposite, i.e. arid, as in Arizona or most of California, Nevada, New Mexico, or most of Australia? IN these places, getting a water-bath is a treat for a horse (as it should also be, i.e. it should be a treat, no matter where you live).

(3) Is the climate seasonal, i.e. hot and humid in summer only, as in most of the U.S. mid-Atlantic and Midwest? Rainrot can be a problem here too.

Apart from rainrot, there are really no health "dangers" to a horse having a water-bath or being hosed off, and you do not have to remove ALL the moisture; in fact, that's impossible. Whether you use a water-scraper or a towel on him, there will have to be some degree of evaporation and indeed that's half the reason for giving him the bath, i.e. the cooling effect that accompanies evaporation; it isn't just the coolness of the water coming out of the hose that benefits and feels good to the horse.

The other factor of importance is the substrate, because -- as you notice -- a wet horse is likely to want to roll. If your rolling area is sand, that's ideal; the sand will absorb 90% of the moisture that remains on the horse after his bath. When he stands back up after rolling he'll give himself a good shake and the wet sand that is sticking to him will go flying in every direction. Two minutes later you'll find he's completely dry.

If your substrate is clay, dirt, or mud, however -- when he lies down to roll he will get himself caked with mud. This leads me into a whole different aspect that's implicit in your query: Psychologically and emotionally normal people will smile when they see the horse get himself all muddy; they will project themselves into the horse's life and they will thereby be able to appreciate how very good this feels to him. Further, a mud-caked horse is far less likely to suffer from fly bites or mosquito bites, since he armor-plates himself through rolling in the mud. It is absolutely GRAND to see muddy horses, because muddy horses are (usually) comfortable happy horses.

But if the person seeing the muddy horse is not psychologically and emotionally normal, when they see a muddy horse they will only perceive a DIRTY horse and to them, this will be unacceptable. THEIR horse will have to be 100% dry, therefore, before they dare turn him out -- if indeed they dare turn him out at all -- because he "might get dirty" and that will cause them to feel that they "have" to groom him, and of course, as we all know, it's a pain in the ass to get hardened mud off of a horse. Ahh! But if only the psychologically and emotionally abnormal person could ABIDE the nature of the animal they claim to love, and just wait a few hours or maybe a day or two, and let him roll again or let the horses mutually groom each other, they'd find most of the mud would by then have fallen off. But such people usually can't stand to let anyone think that they'd have even a single horse on their place for five minutes that had a speck of mud on him. And this is, of course, because psychologically and emotionally abnormal people are driven by WHAT OTHERS MIGHT THINK OF THEM instead of being driven by what they think themselves.

As to the latter -- I often suspect that they are deficient in this area through simple lack of practice. Hopefully, this will not be the case with you, Laura.

So, Laura -- you'll have to decide what to do with your own horse. After you think this through, you might even find that you're at the WRONG BARN -- with the WRONG PEOPLE -- and you might want to look around your local area and perhaps find some other people to be with that are not so insufferably superficial, and who are capable of loving horses more than they love themselves. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Pintado
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 Posted: Fri Aug 29th, 2014 07:17 am
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I have also been told that turning out a wet horse in full sunshine will cause the water to heat up and overheat him, rather than cool him off. This doesn't quite make sense if you think that heated water will evaporate and cool the horse off ultimately, but it is something people say and perhaps something that the original poster heard? Is there any weather condition that this would be true for?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Aug 29th, 2014 08:47 am
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No, Pintado; bogus physics. There is a lot of that and always has been.

This is why we tell people, "Read Equus Magazine" and "ask your veterinarian," because from these reliable sources, which means correctly educated people, you will get correct answers.

Understand that this has been known for a long, long time. Aside from quoting Sophocles or Plato on this subject, I am fond of quoting Charles Dickens, who in "A Christmas Carol" there comes a point where the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge two scrawny, dirty children hiding among the folds of his robe. He says, "The one child is Want and the other is Ignorance; but the one most to be feared is Ignorance."

This is why it is ILLEGAL in the United States for children under the age of 17 to be truant even a single day from school. -- Dr. Deb

Laura A
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 Posted: Tue Sep 2nd, 2014 04:30 pm
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Dear Dr. Deb
Thank you for shedding some light on this subject. I feel I should elaborate a bit on what happend. I live in PA and on this day it was around 77 maybe 78 degrees. After the instructor had finished her lesson she asked me, as a favor, if I would mind washing the horse off. She also washes her lesson horses prior to each lesson. I didn't mind and proceeded to wash the horse. When I finished I asked permission to turn him out in the sand area still wet. (Just because it's ok with me I would never assume it would be ok with her) Well, the look of horror on her face could have knocked you over! She was appalled that I didn't know the horse could die of heat stroke if turned out wet. If this is true, then yes, I did not know this. I scraped him dry and turned him out. He immediately rolled, came up clean, and the flies were on him like you know what! Poor guy.
I have a ritual with my young mare that has been going on for a few years now. Every time she sees that I'm filling her water, she comes running down the pasture and waits patiently for me to hose her off. She turns all sides until she is completely wet then goes off and rolls. When she gets up she is covered in muddy dirt and grass. She looks at me as if to say "thanks-that was awesome" and off she goes. She must enjoy it because she comes every single time. And I can't tell you the feeling I get every single time we do this. My horses bring me such peace.
I am relatively new to horse ownership and realize I have a gazillion things to learn. I have been relying on my gut and common sense and so far so good. Of course, I read everything I can, listen to what everybody has to say, I participate in/audit clinics, and I'm always with my girls for the vet and farrier visits asking questions. But this bathing thing now has me questioning my choices.
Dr.Deb-if I am putting my horses in danger or compromising their health in any way please tell me! I feel blessed at having found you and the ESI site. I have learned so much as everything you teach makes such complete sense to me.
And BTW-this discussion took place at a friend's barn. I am very happy where I am and my girls are thriving! Thank you from us all for sharing your time and your incredible knowledge.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Sep 2nd, 2014 09:20 pm
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Laura, what I'm telling you, you could have heard from Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers on NPR: Your instructor's ideas about wet horses are BO-O-O-O-O-GUS.

I'm sure your daddy told you this too: don't believe everything you hear. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

TC11
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 Posted: Sat Sep 20th, 2014 10:15 pm
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Dear Dr.Deb,
I was interested in what you thought about wetting a horse down in the paddock before getting saddled on a hot day in southern California before a thoroughbred race?
Thank you!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Sep 21st, 2014 04:28 am
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TC -- C'mon, what do YOU think? I mean, based on what's already been said in this thread. Let's hear your thinking process on this one. -- Dr. Deb

seminolewind
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 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2014 03:41 am
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They always roll their eyes at me because I rarely bathe my horse. My horse is clean and has a great coat and skin and everyone else's horse is dealing with rainrot and feet that just fall apart in the summer from the wetness. In Florida with 90% humidity during the day for 4 months, I am not bathing my horse! I may wash her legs down, and do keep my rides short at that time.

So now they say I'm wrong leaving the salts from sweat on her skin.

I can't win!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2014 06:53 am
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Yes, you CAN win, Seminole. What you do is you ignore the comments and opinions of ignorant people. You also ignore the comments and opinions of busybodies, the superstitious, and anybody who listens to FOX news. Cheers -- Dr. Deb


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