No matter if it is a tough conditioning ride, or the post-ride after a competition, your equine partner who works so hard for you needs some special consideration. Let’s talk about post-ride care for your horse.
- Water, water, everywhere
Your horse may come in all hot and steamy. If you’ve done your homework (a solid conditioning plan) the pulse may be elevated but should quickly drop as you hand walk your horse in to the finish. This is where you and/or your crew will need to get busy and work to cool the horse down, and deflate an elevated pulse. Let the horse have a good drink, hand-walk a bit, and then more water. Water can also be sponged on and scraped off to decrease the body temperature. Once your horse has successfully dropped to the per-determined (by the vet) pulse, and you’ve vetted through, let your horse graze, and drink, and walk, and repeat.
- A bit of TLC
As your horse begins to relax, do a thorough grooming, paying particular attention to the legs (looking for heat, swelling, or puffiness). Palpate along the horse’s back checking for any back dipping or sore spots. Sponge the horse to get off all the sweat, mud, and crud. Check for scrapes, and cuts, and pick out the hooves. If the weather is cold, blowing, or raining, you may want to go ahead and skip the sponging and just get the horse blanketed to keep the muscles warm.
- Feed the Work
Be sure your horse has a nice bag of hay, and fresh clean water. This is a great time to give your horse a small pan of wet mash, full of your horse’s favorite sloppy goodness. If at all possible allow your horse the luxury of staying overnight to rest up prior to heading out.