COLD WEATHER COOL-OUT TIPS
A hot, sweaty, unclipped horse presents a challenge in the middle of winter. Once wet, a winter coat doesn’t provide insulation, leaving a horse at risk of a chill. Your challenge after a vigorous workout is to keep him warm until his coat dries.
Your best bet is to cover your horse with a cooler—either an old-fashioned woolen one or one made of a modern material that wicks moisture away from the body. Then, keep him away from the wind and drafts until his coat is dry, changing the cooler if it becomes damp. If you’re in a hurry, towel dry your horse or even break out a hair dryer, being careful to not overheat his skin.
But don’t put a heavy blanket on a hot, wet horse in cold weather. That will merely trap the moisture, making his coat stay wet longer. Stick with a cooler until he is dry, then put on his regular blanket. It could take several hours for a horse to be ready for his winter blanket, depending on how sweaty he is and what the weather is like, so plan your rides to allow enough time for this follow-up.
The good news is you don’t have to keep your horse walking until he’s dry. That’s a common misconception. Walking him until his breathing returns to normal will ensure his muscles have properly cooled down, but once he’s no longer huffing or puffing, walking is not necessary.
If you frequently ask your horse for exertion in freezing weather, consider giving him a partial or even a full body clip. A clipped horse needs much more protection from the cold in the form of blankets and shelter than his natural-coated herdmates, but he will dry much faster after workouts.