I mean, no sweat, as in your horse has stopped sweating. But, of course, you will never know what I’m talking about for anyone in the latitudes where it never gets above 85 degrees F or the humidity is moderate.
I wish I had a picture of the first horse I had known with anhydrosis (the medical term for non-sweating). The horse looked like an alligator with only the head, face, and nostrils above the pond water while the body remained below the surface. More common are the horses standing in front of fans, nostrils flared, rib cage heaving as they struggle to stay cool without the benefit of the cooling effect of evaporating moisture from their skin.
As a vet student at Cornell, not much about this condition of horses was known. Little was written about it. However, treatments spread about the horse world with anecdotal evidence of their effectiveness. Guinness Extra Stout ale, other dark ales, and beer are all common remedies. Acupuncture, the Equi-Patch, 1AC, misting fans, Ventipulman (albuterol), and prostaglandin injections all have reports of working to some degree in some horses.
Some Degree – Some Horses
No one has determined why some horses in the same environment stop sweating while others do sweat, but we know that every horse is different with different responses to triggers. And no one (to my knowledge) has determined the mechanism behind anhydrosis.
Accidentally we have found a cure that seems to work in every horse we try it with, and we need your help to give us more examples of this treatment’s success. But, unfortunately, it is August, and it is hot. Will you help us figure this out?
Research has shown that if you add the temperature in Fahrenheit with the % humidity and the sum is greater than 185, there is a good chance your horse will have diminished sweat. However, they did not relate this observation to their diet and did not use Celcius. For example, a 90-degree day with 95% humidity = 185. This conclusion is from an observational study, so there is some variability, just as my observation that horses resolve their anhidrosis when removing grain and grain byproducts (including ALL treats and supplements).
Most of you know we are not big fans of feeding grain to any horse. These grains include corn, oats, wheat, or any seeds (flax, chia, sunflower) and especially the byproducts (wheat middlings, rice bran, oat hulls, sugar beet pulp and others), which are inconsistent in nutritional value and are very inflammatory in most horses. As we convinced horse owners that grains and byproducts cause inflammation in the gut with unwanted behavioral events, we also heard that some non-sweating horses started to sweat. We need more numbers to confirm this, so if your horse isn’t sweating (to any degree), please try this and tell us.
What To Do
Step one – stop feeding your horse all grain, carrots, sugar, treats and red trace mineral salt licks (sugar). Instead, only feed pasture, hay (grass or legume), mined salt and water. NOTHING ELSE. Adding a handful of hay pellets or hay cubes to a bucket at “feeding time” is allowed.
Step two – wait about four days while continuing this simple diet of grass, hay, salt, and water. If the experience is true, your horse will start to sweat about day three and fully sweat by day 4 (assuming no cold front comes on).
Step three – report back your results in the forum.
I must assume that digestive tract inflammation, leaking gut and general malaise are behind anhydrosis; I would like to understand the physiological principles behind this but as a horseman, getting effective treatment is what counts. If horses start to sweat after removing grain and other common simple sugars, all the other benefits might also be worth considering.
If your horse shows one or more of the following, there may be grain intolerance and gut inflammation.
- Chronic poor body condition (thin) despite feeding large amounts of grain
- Chronic spasmodic (non-surgical) colic
- Squirts or dribbles fecal matter when defecating – stains the stall wall
- Girthiness (shifts feet, swishes tail, puffs up)
- Uncomfortable being brushed
- Unwilling or difficult behavior on the ground or while ridden
- Bucking or hopping when moving into the trot or canter
- Reluctance to load into a trailer or difficulty when trailering
- Non-sweating to any degree
All of these were resolved in horses by taking the two-week no-grain challenge. Learn more about grain problems at Why Horses Should Not Be Fed Grain. Then, take the 2-week no-grain challenge with your non-sweating horse and post the results. No harm in this and no cost either. You can’t lose though your horse might sweat a bit.
There are 268 comments below! Reading them will help you gain more information. The comments are closed, but members can still report their results in the forums. Thanks in advance! – Doc T