Old Groom`s Tales

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No matter how many times they’re debunked or how many research studies prove them wrong, some myths are slow to die. However, these fallacies can be detrimental to the well being of the horse:

Myth: Never hose a hot horse with cold water or he’ll cramp up.

Fact: The hotter the horse is, the colder the water should be to allow heat to be transferred from the body into the water. In fact, the treatment for heat stroke involves cold-water hosing, packing the rectum with ice and ice packing of the horse if he is down. Fears of muscle spasm or heart attack from external cold are unfounded.

Myth: You can’t feed corn in the summer because it’s a ”hot” feed.

Fact: Corn is believed to make a horse ”hot” tempered, but it’s not been proven. What has been proven is that the digestion of corn and burning of the carbohydrates it yields doesn’t produce significantly more body heat than any other grain. It’s the digestion of hay that generates the most internal heat.

Myth: A hot horse always needs a cooler, even in summer. If you don’t, the muscles will cramp.

Fact: Coolers keep a wet horse from getting chilled while walking him out in colder weather. A hot horse in hot weather does not need a cooler.

Myth: Giving the horse cold water after work can cause colic and laminitis.

Fact: There’s no scientific connection between water temperature and colic or laminitis.

Myth: Letting the horse drink all that it wants immediately after work can cause colic and laminitis.

Fact: Although a horse that drinks a lot of water all at once may experience a temporary feeling of uncomfortable stomach fullness, the stomach empties rapidly and isn’t a potential danger to the horse. Research shows that when horses have their water intake limited immediately after exercise, they don’t drink as much water in total during the cooling-out period as horses that are allowed to drink all they want at all times. This leads to failure to replenish the water lost in sweat. The only exception to allowing unlimited water is a horse that has heat stroke. These high body temperatures often interfere with gut motility. Offer no more than two gallons at a time and get in touch with your vet immediately.

Myth: The best way to prevent dehydration is with a commercial electrolyte mix.

Fact: Most electrolyte supplements don’t provide enough sodium, potassium and chloride to meet the horse’s daily requirements. They’re designed to replace increased electrolyte losses from sweat, but the horse must havehis baseline electrolyte needs met. Electrolyte feeding begins with at least 10 lbs./day of hay (or unlimited pasture) to provide potassium, and a minimum of 2 oz. of salt.