What’s so Cool About Coolers for Horses?

Find out why using coolers on horses post-exercise makes good sense, especially during cold weather.

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coolers for horses
Wearing a cooler helps the horse avoid catching a chill during winter cool-down. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Q.I’m a little confused about the purpose of coolers for horses. Is it to literally help “cool” a hot horse after exercise? I feel like putting a cooler on a hot horse would just trap in damaging heat or not allow a sweaty horse to dry. What’s the real reasoning behind this habit?

—Danny, via email

A.A cooler is used at the end of a workout, otherwise known as the cooling-down portion—hence the blanket’s name. You’re right about the cooler trapping heat post-workout. However, this action helps the horse avoid catching a chill during winter cool-down. During a workout a horse can keep its body temperature high enough to stay warm in cold weather, but once the workout is finished, its body temperature will drop and it will become cold and likely uncomfortable, unless somehow kept warm

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Written by:

Rachel Buchholz, DVM, is an associate veterinarian at Northwest Equine Performance in Mulino, Oregon. She currently manages the standing MRI unit at the practice, as well as seeing horses for various lameness and sports medicine related issues. Buchholz graduated from Michigan State University, where she worked in the renowned Mary Ann McPhail Equine Performance Center studying equine spinal anatomy, pathologies, and therapies. Her professional interests include equine physiotherapy, advanced diagnostic imaging, and western performance horse issues.

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