Clipping, Blankets Helpful in Cold-Weather Exercise Recovery

Clipped horses achieved faster post-exercise recovery than unclipped horses when working in cold temperatures.

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For many parts of the country cooler weather is just around the corner, which means many horse owners will be throwing extra hay, picking ice out of hooves, and pondering the age-old question: to clip or not to clip? But a team of Scandinavian researchers might help some owners with the final task, as they recently confirmed that clipped horses appear to achieve swifter post-exercise recovery than unclipped horses when working in cold temperatures.

Kristina Dahlborn, a study author and professor of integrative physiology in the Swedish University of Agriculture Science’s Department of Anatomy and Physiology, explained that when horses exercise, only 20% of the energy metabolized in muscle cells goes toward physical activity, while the remaining 80% becomes heat.

Long hair coats, such as those grown in winter, are thought to act the same way blankets do, trapping heat close to the body to keep the core temperature high. Many owners of equine athletes clip these winter coats to allow for easier heat dissipation when the animals work in cold temperatures.

Dahlborn and colleagues recently completed a study evaluating how clipping and blanket use affect horses’ thermoregulation (the ability to maintain body temperature) during exercise and recovery in cold climates

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Written by:

Natalie Voss is a freelance writer and editor based in Kentucky. She received her bachelor’s degree in equine science from the University of Kentucky and has worked in public relations for equine businesses and organizations. She spends her spare time riding her Draft cross, Jitterbug.

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