The Ice Horse XC System Works Like Nothing Else

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Cooling the horse during competition is always a priority, but it's critical for three-day eventers and endurance riders.

The Ice Horse XC System has quickly become a proven method of swiftly and efficiently lowering the horse's temperature and, thus, his pulse and respiration. Since its creation in 2008, it's been used by scores of riders at major events across the country.

Quick Cooling. Dougie Hannum, the equine therapist for the U.S. eventing team since 1988, helped invent the XC System because for years he?d experienced the effects of excessive heat on competing horses.

?The machine is very efficient in the way it puts water on specific areas and then scrapes it away, but it's also very calming. it's like walking into a wash rack for them,? said Hannum.

Our trial at one event and observations at three others confirmed Hannum?s assertions. At the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event, in Temecula, Calif., in November, the XC System lowered our horse's temperature by 1 degree in the 10-minute box before cross-country and by 1.5 degrees in 15 minutes after cross-country.

But you'll need a substantial source of cool water, at least the size of a manure bucket, a garbage can or even a water trough to place the pump in. Water buckets won?t work, as the pump will suck them dry in less than a minute.

Cooling Facts. The most important fact revealed during the intense heat-stress and cooling studies conducted in preparation for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was that cold water is essential for hot horses ? and that it's not possible to use too much of it. Prior to that, many people believed that applying cold water to a hot horse would lead to muscle cramping, colic and tying-up.

The research proved that when a horse becomes really hot from exercise (temperature above 102 degrees), it's imperative to get his temperature down as fast as possible. If his temperature comes down, so do pulse and respiration, and he regains normal function of his organs and limbs.

Sweating is essential to help horses dissipate heat from blood vessels near the surface of their skin, but it's not efficient. Putting cold water on their skin and scraping off the water warmed by the body makes their own system more efficient.

that's exactly what the XC System does ? it puts cold water on and immediately scrapes it off, again and again, as the heart pumps more heated blood through the blood vessels.

Bottom Line. The XC System does quickly reduce a horse's temperature and is more efficient (and less messy) than using buckets and sponges. Still, $525 is a significant investment.

If you don't compete (or train) horses in hot and/or humid conditions, buckets, sponges and sweat scrapers are far cheaper. But, if you do seriously compete in these conditions, it's a sound investment.