Do Horses Sweat?

Last Updated on March 24, 2022

Anyone who’s untacked a horse after a summer afternoon ride has probably noticed dark sweat marks left behind by the saddle and girth. But why do horses sweat and how do you know what’s normal?

Keep reading to learn more about how horses use perspiration to stay cool in the heat and why a lack of sweat could indicate a significant problem.

Why Horses Sweat

Horses sweat to regulate their body temperature during exercise or hot weather. While sweating is just a single component of the complex system that helps keep your horse cool, problems sweating can have significant consequences for his health and wellbeing.

How Do Horses Sweat?

The presence of sweat on the skin doesn’t cool the horse down. It’s actually the evaporation of sweat that helps remove heat from the horse’s muscles.

When your horse exercises, his muscles produce a lot of heat absorbed by circulating blood and carried to the skin and lungs. Excess heat not controlled by breathing and radiant cooling will then start to raise the horse’s body temperature.

Part of the horse’s brain, the hypothalamus, senses the increase and signals the sweat glands to begin producing sweat. As the sweat accumulates on the skin, it begins to evaporate and remove heat to reduce your horse’s body temperature.

Sweating Isn’t Always Enough

Sometimes your horse may not be able to cool himself adequately after intense exercise in extreme heat. Humid weather can also prevent sweat from evaporating quickly enough to control body temperature.

Limit your horse’s risks of overheating by reducing exercise during hot, humid weather. Always offer your horse free-choice water to promote hydration and monitor his behavior to check how he handles heat.

Happy Horse Thick Rubber Sweat Scraper

Excessive Sweating In Horses

Generally, too much sweat is better than too little. But excessive sweating could be a sign that your horse is struggling to cool himself due to a lack of fitness or hot weather. Repeatedly hosing your horse with cold water and scraping it off can help him cool down faster.

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Anhidrosis In Horses

Anhidrosis is a dangerous condition that compromises your horse’s ability to sweat. Horses that suffer from anhidrosis will produce little sweat in situations where other horses may be drenched. This issue is common in hot and humid regions.

If your horse can’t sweat enough to cool himself, it is essential to manage him carefully to avoid overheating. These horses should have constant access to shade, fans, misters, and drinking water. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect that your horse has anhidrosis.

Read more about What is Cushing’s in Horses: Signs, Causes & Treatment

Sweaty Horses and Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals found in body fluids that are vital for hydration and muscle function. These minerals are lost easily in sweat, and electrolyte supplements like Redmond Rock Mineral Salt may help support rehydration in horses who train in hot environments.

Sweaty Horses and Electrolytes

Horses Sweat To Stay Cool

Sweat marks after a hot summer ride are nothing to worry about. Horses sweat to keep themselves cool, and appropriate sweating is a sign of a healthy horse. Although too much sweat is better than too little, extra sweaty horses might benefit from electrolyte support.

Comment any questions below, and remember to spray and scrape the next time your horse needs extra help cooling off!

Why is my horse sweating in the stable?

Horse sweating in the stall can have many causes. Poor stable ventilation, humid air in the stall, poorly regulated heating, and hot weather will all contribute to sweating. If your horse sweats a lot while in the stall, there are a few things you can do to help it dry out and cool down. The main thing you need to do is make sure that there is good ventilation in the stall. This means that the air in the stall needs to be moving around so that there is less chance of it getting stale and humid. You can also help control the temperature in the stall by installing a fan or using a thermostatically controlled fan. If you can’t do anything about the humidity in the stall, then you can use a dehumidifier to help reduce the moisture content of the air. This will allow the horse to breathe easier and will prevent it from sweating so much. 
It’s important that you take the time to learn why your horse sweats when he is stalled. This will help you effectively manage the problem so that your horse is comfortable and healthy. 

What is it called when horses can’t sweat?

Anhidrosis is a medical term that describes the inability of the sweat glands to produce sweat. A horse with anhidrosis is also called a “non‐sweater”. This condition may be performance limiting, putting the horse at risk for overheating, heatstroke, and dehydration. Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency that occurs when your horse’s body temperature rises rapidly.
Anhidrosis in horses can cause several clinical signs. It’s important to learn what causes the condition and how to prevent or treat it. Congenital anhidrosis (CA) is caused by the failure of the sweat glands to develop normally. CA is not hereditary and is usually present at birth. It is very rare in horses. There is no cure for CA. The only treatment is to keep the horse cool by providing shade and by limiting the horse’s exposure to heat and sun.

How do you stop a horse from sweating?

Horses sweat during periods of high temperatures and high humidity. During such periods it is important to keep workouts short to allow the horse to cool down. It is also important to keep the horse at a comfortable temperature. If the weather is extremely hot, exercise the horse in the morning or early evening when it is cooler.  In warm weather, work the horse at the highest intensity only for the short amount of time in order to prevent overheating.  
What are the best ways to control sweating? The best way to prevent sweating is by keeping the horse in a dry stable with good ventilation. A lot of the heat is generated in the skin, so keeping it dry reduces the amount of sweat that evaporates off of the skin.

How do you dry a sweaty horse in the winter?

You’ll need only a wool or polar fleece cooler. Both, the wool and the fleece, are great wicking materials that help to create an air space around your horse’s body, protecting him from the elements. With his body heat, he’ll keep the air spaces in the material warm. This will draw the moisture away from his skin to the outer surface of the blanket.