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Horse Management: Cooling Off for 3DE


ReadySupp co-founder and international event rider Katherine Coleman shares her top tips on cooling horses down properly after cross country.

Preparation is everything for this task. This is what you will need waiting at the finish line:

  1. 2 buckets, (three if you have them)
  2. 2 sponges
  3. 1 scraper (at least, more if you want)
  4. 1 spanner for removing studs
  5. 1 cooler or sweat rug for after wash down
  6. Cool box with ice boots if used
  7. Head collar and lead rope
  8. A bottle of water for the rider

Putting all your equipment in to a wheelbarrow which is placed at the finish before starting will ensure you’re ready. Fill up all buckets with water in preparation and remember you can use the barrow to bring all your tack and boots back to the lorry after your horse is cooled down.

Top tips for effective cool off:

    • Get cool water on to the horse then off with a scaper as quickly possible. Once the rider has dismounted get the saddle and bridle off fast, as well as any boots – this is important so that the tendons can start to cool.  Spread cold water generously over the horse’s back and neck then scrape the water off immediately (using two people is most efficient), this takes the heat off effectively. When water sits on the horse’s skin it heats up and starts to act like a barrier trapping heat. If it’s not scraped off quickly it will have a thermal effect and keep the horse from cooling down.


    • Use at least two buckets of water on the horse at this stage to thoroughly wash and scrape him down.  Put ice boots on the front legs and secure them tightly with a bandage. Immediately start walking the horse. There are a number of different ice boots available but I still prefer old fashioned ice. Waitrose sells little blue ice bags in a box of 20 for around £2 and they work brilliantly. If you use these make sure you buy some J cloths to go on the leg before the ice – If you apply the ice directly onto the horse’s skin it could burn. Secure the ice firmly with a bandage or just use your cross-country boots. Firm pressure of the ice on the leg is important and you don’t want the ice to slip down while you are walking the horse either.


    • Rapidly removing tack and getting the first two buckets of water over the horse should take no more than 2 to 3 minutes. It is important to do all this quickly because the horse needs to walk around and not stand still for too long while his breathing comes down.

For information on equine supplements or nutrition please contact our friendly team for helpful advice.

Katherine and her business partner Didi Verdina created ReadySupp’s collection of performance driven supplements to feed to their own horses for convenient and more improved results. 

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Posted in Coat health, Equine Health, Equine Nutrition, Equine Skin Health, Eventing
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