Do I need to use a cooler? Maybe!
The beauty of coolers….love them. They are perhaps the most useful piece of horse clothing to have around, even when you don't clip or blanket your horse. Here’s why:
- Coolers are great to use as you strip blankets and start grooming/tacking up in the winter. They can keep your horse warm in the cross ties, so that he doesn’t have to go from snuggly to naked to chilled. Drape a cooler over your horse standing securely in the cross ties, you can fold over sections, groom, and put the cooler over that section again.
- Coolers are great to keep YOU warm as you hang out in the cross ties area. Inevitably, there is a certain amount of “hurry up and wait” in the grooming way of life, and when it’s wicked cold, you can use a cooler during those “wait” sections. They are also good for wrapping around your legs if you are ringside with the video camera.
Coolers come in all shapes and sizes - I love this Wiksmart with the neck piece and belly cover.
- After a workout, coolers are ideal to toss on your freshly exercised horse. They will start to immediately wick away any moisture, and help your horse return to a normal body temperature slowly and safely as he dries. This way he won't go from sweaty and warm to wet and cold. He can just go back to his normal temperature.
- Coolers make excellent drying assistants if you are using the hot toweling method of grooming in the winter. This grooming technique uses hot and wet towels to clean sections of your horse at a time. After a thorough scrubbing, the hair will still be wet, and a cooler will help dry the area and prevent it from getting cold.
Some of you may be wondering if a cooler is even necessary, and it may not be in your climate. Think of it this way - would you want to exercise, sweat, and then stop moving to be stuck in the cold while you are damp? Probably not.
This wool cooler likes to steal Miguel's hairs. But wool is the best fabric for wicking away moisture quickly!
In general, there are several types of cooler fabrics to choose from. Your needs and climate will determine what is best for you.
- Wool coolers are the gold standard in wicking properties, and the largest pain in the laundry department. If you have a horse with a thick coat, this may be the best for you. Word of warning - you will want to curry your little elbow off as every last piece of hair will glue to these bad boys. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that wool horse cooler + dryer = new wool cooler for your barn dog. This article here has tips on how to clean your wool coolers.
- Fleece coolers are versatile, and come in a zillion colors and thicknesses. Most are totally fine in the washer and dryer.
- Knit coolers (or Irish knits as they are sometimes called) are ideal for warmer temps, their weave is very open and the cotton doesn’t wick away the moisture as well, they sort of just soak up the moisture.
The airy Irish Knit!
Play it safe when using coolers. It's all too easy to cut corners and have your horse in a tangled mess of cooler. Please use a cooler with a sensible chest closure and leg/belly straps for safety if you use one when your horse is loose in a stall or paddock.
This wool cooler has a hidden belly strap (sewn to the inside of the cooler) as well as a strap under the tail.
When you are using a cooler to help your horse cool out after exercise, you will notice that the moisture may form little beads on the outside of the cooler. Monitor the underside of the cooler to make sure it’s not saturated and in need of changing.
You can, if the temperature is warm enough for this, use a cooler folded into thirds to drape over the saddle area after exercise. This will help the saddle area dry, without heating up your horse more by having a cooler on his rump and shoulders. Please only do this with your horse secured in the cross ties so that it doesn’t slide off with his movement.
What are your thoughts on coolers? How many do you own?