Vera was born and bred in Florida. She raced until she was 4 years old when her track owners decided that she had more talents to give in the sport horse arena than the racetrack. To be honest I don’t think Vera has ever sweat – and I doubt she ever really well, unless they find a cure for anhidrosis.
I got Vera when she had just turned 5 years old. One of the very first things we noticed was how “fit” she seemed. It didn’t matter how much work she did, she never seemed to sweat at all! That is when we began to look into anhidrosis and its symptoms and effects.
One thing that is important to note about anhidrosis is that we don’t really know a lot about it. Some horses never sweat, but some horses seem to have their sweating turned off or back on. People believe that many things trigger anhidrosis – allergies, skin conditions, fungus, stress; the list goes on.
Vera has several symptoms of anhidrosis besides the non-sweating. She will “sweat” but only from inside her mane and between her back legs. The rest of her body doesn’t sweat in the summer and will sweat lightly and spottily when it’s cold outside (not helpful). She also loses all the hair on her face in the summer, and she has always had trouble with fungus and other skin conditions – she looks dryer and duller than other horses – I’ve been able to combat this with a trial-and-error grooming routine to a degree, but not as easily as other horses.
There are so many different theories about how to make a non-sweating horse sweat again. Unfortunately, what works for one horse isn’t always going to work for another. For Vera, I’ve tried just about everything. The first thing that we tried were the supplements marketed to help out non sweaters. Unfortunately for Vera, these supplements didn’t work for her.
Next, we tried treating for fungus and other skin related conditions, hoping if we fixed her skin, she might be able to start sweating. No such luck. Chinese herbs were next. They didn’t smell great (in my opinion) but Vera had no issues eating them. They didn’t help though.
Over time we’ve also tried beer (nothing) and acupuncture (no such luck… but we did find out Vera was a fire horse and does NOT like acupuncture). The traditional ideas just weren’t working.
We live and compete in Florida. During the summer months, our season comes to a screeching halt – we ride early in the morning or in the rain. Lessons are short and sweet, rushing to get her under the water and cooled off. Shows had to be specifically chooses for times and access to water and power for fans. Not incredibly ideal as a pair moving up the levels. Now as a preliminary horse we have to be even more careful in the heat.
Enter the Equi Cool Off Deluxe Wrap. This was actually my friend’s idea – during one of the heat waves we’ve had this summer. She’d had this wrap for a while, having bought it to bring to horse shows at venues where access to a hose was limited (just one of its many uses!). We figured it couldn’t hurt, and popped in on Vera on
e day in the cross ties. You could immediately see the relief. She started to release tension and her panting started to taper off. She stood very happily in front of the fan for over an hour that day (which is telling if you know Vera, who hates to stand still ever)
So, I decided I would conduct a little experiment of my own. On one of the hottest days, we had in June I brought Vera in from under her huge shady breezy tree and took her temperature. Because of that tree when she came in her temp was only 102 – while this is above normal (99-101) it’s not as high as I was expecting for a non-sweater on a record high temperature day. Just to have something to compare it too, I took the temperature of Vera’s pasture mate, my young horse who has no problem sweating. Standing in the full sun, under a fly sheet, he was only 100 (well within normal) We put Vera in cross ties and put the Equi Cool Down blanket on, turned the big fan on her and let her sit for a little over an hour. I then took her temperature again … 99 degrees. In a little over an hour, the blanket had cooled her down 3 degrees.
The Equi Cool Down blanket isn’t a cure for anhidrosis. It hasn’t caused Vera to sweat more but I have noticed a huge difference in her ability to handle the heat. She seems to recover more quickly. I can ride her during the day and she doesn’t pant for hours after. She seems to be more comfortable in the field even when it’s hot. Her overall stress levels have seemed to go down. Her ears perk up when she seems me coming with the blanket and she pins her ears at anyone who dares to touch it while it’s on her (“do NOT take my blanket away from me human”) It has allowed me to take her off property and do fun things even though it is hot. She works and then she can come back to the trailer, get the blanket on and cool down like any other horse.
So far this has been the most effective way that I have been able to manage Vera’s anhidrosis. It gives her that relief that her body doesn’t allow her to have. There are still things that I have to do to manage her. I have to consider when I ride her and what we do in relation to the temperature. I keep a close eye on her body condition and weight, balancing the fine line between enough weight and not too much additional unnecessary insulation. I make sure she has access to shade or a fan and lots and lots of water. We don’t show upper-level events in the summer, especially one days. However, with the Equi Cool Down blanket, we are able to do a little more and she’s able to be more comfortable during the summer than she’s ever been in her life.