Caring for your horse after strenuous exercise - blog by Emma Stewart, International eventing groom

This could count for anything like endurance - fun rides - cross country - galloping etx

For my example I will tell you what we do after a horse has ran cross country at an international event and the following morning.

With eventing horses in the cross country faze the horses can gallop anywhere between 5-12 minutes .. It all depends on the level and the format - CIC competitions are shorter than CCI ones..

For the most competitions there is always a place after the finish line where there is waiting a vet and there is also water for washing.

To the finish I usually take a wheelbarrow with buckets - sponges -swear scraper - spanner for studs - towel -fly rug or sweating rug depending on the temperature and a head collar and rope.

When the horse crosses the line usually the rider canters then trots some circles .. In my opinion the first thing that should be removed from the horse is the boots - keeping them on keeps the tendons hot and that is not what you want. At the finish usually (in our team) there is 2-3people (including the rider) helping .. It's important to remove everything fast - so one on the saddle one on the bridle and the other already starting washing.

It is better for the horse if they can keep walking so there muscles don't seize (tying up) and whilst walking should have buckets either thrown( if the horse is not scared) or people sponging the water all over them. As soon as the water is on the horse it should be scraped off almost immediately - the idea is to cool the horse down as fast as possible and if the water stays on the hot horse it only heats up.

Usually after walking and washing around 10 minutes the vet will take the heart rate .. If it is below 90 bpm then the horse is allowed back to the stable area.

Once at the stable I usually take the studs out let the horse have a small drink then take shampoo and wash the horse completely .. It ensures that the mud and sand is away and any cuts and scrapes are clean.

Once in the stable the horse will get ice directly on the legs - either ice cube bags ( with a cloth under so the ice is not touching the skin) or ice boots . This goes on for 30-40minutes. In this time the horse can be checked for and cuts/scratches and bruising and be treated accordingly. After the ice Is off its good to take the horse walking again to stretch the muscles .

We usually spend the next few hours splitting time between ice on the legs and walking .. Late in the evening we trot the horse once to check if it is sound and then after apply stay sound/ Ice tight clay covered with wet paper and on top stable bandages.

The next morning at most competitions is usually a vetcheck - so it is early to the stable to wash away the clay and apply more ice on the legs . Whilst the ice is on I normally plait and brush the horse and when I remove the ice I start walking - usually at least 30 minutes before the vet takes a look..

In the end it is just important that the horse is cooled down as fast as possible , the tendons are well cooked and supported and the horse is happy and comfortable regardless of what discipline at what level ..

Next time I will write about fitness of a horse including gallop training

Till then,

Emma

 

Photos by: Jeffery fierens - nifin.be

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