Do Horses Sweat?

Horses, like most mammals, have a beautiful coat of fur that keeps them warm, and that makes them soft to the touch. This coat can vary in length, depending on the time of year, and can have many different patterns and colors, as horses have different appearances!

Do horses sweat?

But have you ever wondered if horses can sweat? Picture a horse being ridden during the summer season, on a hot sunny day.

The riding session causes the horse to perform different activities, which require effort. And by the end of it, the horse is practically drenched. Is that sweat? 

The answer is yes! And that is because horses are one of the few mammals that can sweat, just as humans do. But how do they sweat, and why? And what if they sweat too much, is this something you should watch out for? 

Don’t worry, we can answer all of these questions and more, so let’s get right into it! 

How And Why Do Horses Sweat? 

Okay, now that we know that horses can indeed sweat, let’s go a little more in-depth as to how and why they do so. 

The reason why horses sweat, put simply, is so that they can cool themselves down. Sweating is a way for them to regulate their body temperature, and they will usually sweat when it is very warm outside, or when they perform intense physical activity.

It is completely normal, and it is something that keeps them healthy, as otherwise, their bodies would overheat! 

As to how they sweat, their body does it naturally, using the water within. During especially hot days, horses can sweat up to around 4 gallons of water every hour! Which seems like an insane amount of water to be losing,

but you have to remember that horses make up for that by drinking large amounts of water throughout the day. 

Something that you should know, as to how they sweat, is that horses don’t swear all through their body. Instead, the sweat mainly comes from their neck, chest, and legs.

These are the parts of their body from which they sweat, and which should therefore be left uncovered during hot or intense days. 

That being said, if a horse begins to overheat, it might also start sweating from the rump, and this indicates that the horse is in danger of suffering a heatstroke!

Do horses sweat?

Is Sweating Good For Your Horse?

Seeing a horse sweat can make you worry, especially if they start sweating quite a lot. So is sweating actually good for them? 

The answer, generally, is yes. When a horse sweats, it is a sign that its body is regulating the temperature, cooling itself down in order to avoid overheating and suffering from heatstroke.

They do so during hot days, or during intense physical activity, and it is completely normal and healthy.

That being said, there are times in which your horse sweating can be a sign of something wrong. 

For example, if a horse starts sweating from the rump, this is a sign that the horse is close to overheating, and you should do something immediately to help them cool down.

This is because usually, a horse will sweat from the neck, chest, and legs. Sweat on any other part of the body means that they need cooling down with your help! 

(Of course, if you are riding the horse, then there will probably also be sweat around the saddle, due to the contact. This is completely normal, just make sure to cool down your horse after the session!) 

Other times to be concerned are when your horse is sweating despite being stood still, in normal temperature conditions. Or when your horse is sweating excessively, as this could lead to dehydration. 

How To Cool Your Horse Down After Exercise

Horses tend to sweat after a riding session, due to the physical activity involved. They do so even more during the summer season when it’s warmer outside! This is completely normal and healthy. 

However, it is important to make sure that your horse isn’t sweating too much, or else this can lead to dehydration. So it’s important to cool your horse down after exercise so that the excess heat dissipates faster, and your horse is back to normal without the need for so much sweating. 

Here Are Some Basic Ways Of Cooling Down Your Horse After Exercise

  • Walk your horse until the breathing becomes normal once more (this is a lot better than having your horse stop immediately after intense work, walking will slowly relax the muscles to avoid damage, and will regulate the body temperature a lot better) 
  • Give your horse a cold shower! (This is a must, especially during the summer, and it’s the most effective way of cooling down your horse and wiping the sweat away) 
  • Make sure your horse has plenty of water for drinking, they will need it to stay hydrated after all the sweating! 
  • Make sure your horse has shade after exercising so that they are not standing around in the sun

What To Do If Your Horse Doesn’t Sweat

So…horses sweat, and that’s a good thing. They do so to cool their bodies down, which is why they will usually sweat when it’s hot, or when they are performing intense physical activities. 

But what if your horse doesn’t sweat? Is this something you should be concerned about? Is sweating not a problem? 

Well, in the same way that sweating too much is bad for a horse’s health, not sweating at all is definitely a bad sign and something that you should call the veterinarian over! 

Not sweating is dangerous, because it means that your horse doesn’t have a way of getting rid of the heat within the body, meaning the temperature is staying high, which can lead to overheating.

So if your horse isn’t sweating, when he should be, you need to intervene and make sure you’re getting that temperature down! 

There is actually a condition called anhidrosis, which is when a horse is unable to sweat. There is no clear answer as to how this condition comes about, whether it is hereditary, metabolic, or environmental.

But what is clear, is that it happens when a horse is unable to sweat and regulate the body temperature and that it is more common in horses that live in hot and humid climates. 

Here Are Some Of The Signs That Can Indicate That Your Horse Has Anhidrosis

  • A completely dry coat after an intense workout or in warm weather (basically, no sweating) 
  • The coat is hot to the touch (indicating a high body temperature) 
  • Labored breathing during and after physical activity 
  • Poor performance (becomes exhausted quickly, cannot perform as well, and doesn’t want to exercise) 
  • Loss of hair on the coat (this is one of the earliest signs!) 

If you notice any of these signs, contact the veterinarian, and they will be able to perform a test to determine whether it really is anhidrosis or not. If it is, then you will have to make sure you are limiting the build-up of heat in your horse’s body, and that you are helping your horse cool down since they can’t do it by themselves. 

Here Are Some Of The Tips For Dealing With Anhidrosis

  • Exercise your horse early in the morning or late in the evening (when there is less heat and sun) 
  • Take lots of breaks while exercising your horse, so that the heat doesn’t build up as much
  • Use cold water and fans in order to help your horse cool down
  • Make sure your horse always has shade in which to seek refuge

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, horses do sweat, and they are actually one of the few mammals to do so! They sweat in order to regulate their body temperature, getting rid of excess heat to avoid heat stroke.

They will usually sweat through their neck, chest, and legs, so if you notice excessive sweat anywhere else, this might be a cause for concern. 

It is very important to help your horse cool down after exercising and to make sure your horse has plenty of water and shade during hot days so that they are able to stay safe from overheating.

But if your horse is unable to heat, then you will have to take more extreme measures to help regulate their body temperature!

Catherine McDowl
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