2013 Tevis Forum - page 11

TEVISFORUM2013
W
hen I ran the Western States 100,
I used my medical knowledge of the
physiology of sweating to great ad-
vantage. I found the same principles
worked very effectively on the horse.
It’s common sense and it’s simple, and
itdoesn’trequireawater truck to follow
youover themountains.
Let’sstartwithasimpleexplanation
of how sweatingworks to cool you or
yourhorse.Sweating isstimulatedwhen
yourcore temperaturerises.Thehuman
thermostatkicks inwithariseof1/100
th
of a degree. The response is a dilation
of surface blood vessels to shunt the
heat to the surface, and the production
of sweat. Sweat is mostly water but it
hasvaluableelectrolyteswhichmustbe
replaced ifmuscles(includingtheheart),
nerves,andotherorgansare to function
normally. Forget electrolytes for now,
they are innocent bystanders in the
sweatingprocessand servenopurpose
in the coolingof yourCayuse.
Sweat pours from thousands of
tinyducts on to the surfaceof the skin,
spreadingover itandabsorbing theheat
from it. Thisheat is then lost in several
waysrelative tosweat:evaporationand
conduction. If the relative humidity is
lowenough, theevaporatingwaterhas
a cooling effect. The heated sweat can
alsodripoffyouoryourhorseandcarry
the increased heat with it. Consider
three things. First, the sweat (or its sur-
rogate, water) has to stay on the skin
long enough to absorb heat from the
skinbefore it cancarry itaway. Second,
the temperatureof thewateryouputon
yourself or your horsehas tobe cooler
than the skin temperature, and lastly,
thehumidityhas tobe lowenough that
evaporation takesplace.
That’s it. That’s all you have to
know to cool your critter.
When I ride the Tevis, my focus
for cooling the horse is fromRed Star
to Foresthill. In the high country, the
temperature and the humidity are low
enough to allow excellent cooling and
youonlyhave toworryaboutreplacing
fluids and electrolytes inyour horse.
FromRed Star toForesthill, I have
fourwaterbottlesonmysaddle thatare
dedicated to coolingmy horse (I wear
a camelbackpack formy ownneeds).
I have his mane braided so it doesn’t
obstruct the skin and I trickle water
downhisneck frequently; I try tokeep
his neck damp asmuch as is possible.
The trickledwater spends lots of time
runningslowlydownhisneck,plentyof
time to absorbheat fromhis skin.
Howmuch time does the bucket
of water, thrown on the horse spend
absorbingheat? It’sdefinitely a caseof
overkill. It may be okay for flat track
endurance where there are unlimited
quantitiesofwater and the crew touse
it, but not for a trip through themoun-
tainswhereyouonly see crew twice in
100miles. I’mnot justcoolingmycritter
at thevetstops; Iamcoolinghimall the
way through those hotter-than-you-
know-what canyons.
Irefillmybottlesateverycreekand
spring along theway, andof course, at
thevetstops.AtRobinson,mycrewhas
replacement bottles that were frozen
the night before, perfect to begin the
canyons.
Thehorse’sneck is likeabig radia-
torandmygoal is tokeep itwet for the
middle thirdof the ride.
It really works! Give it a try. Just
remember not to drink from the wa-
ter bottle that you filled in one of the
springs or creeks. If you don’t, you’ll
have awhole other series of problems
todealwith.
Have agreat ride!
H
CoolingYour Cayuse, Simplified
by JeffHerten,M.D.
Top: CrockettDumas.
Middle:DaveRabe and crew.
Bottom: BelowSwingingBridge.
(photographs bySilent I)
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