Thursday, September 3, 2009
Is this really necessary?
Back when I was first starting out in the Arabian horse industry, neck sweats seemed to be the newest thing and latest trend. We used a neoprene sweat while lunging horses of all ages to shrink down the size of their neck. One gelding, we used a multiple layer of sweats on as well as wiping him down with glycerin based goop that was supposed to produce better and lasting effects.
The horses were slathered with goop, sweats were applied, they were put on the hot walker for 10-15 minutes, lunged, then put back on the hot walker for another 10-15 minutes, bathed, put back on the hot walker until dry and then finally brought in to go back to their stall. Of course they were put away wearing another neck sweat.
These were usually adjusted pretty tightly and I can only figure they caused some level of stress as they constantly put pressure on the horses throat and poll. Their only form of relief would come from always keeping their head down.
**All of the sweats as pictured, are available from Four Winds Saddle & Tack Store in Ft. Collins, CO. The glycerin is available from Schneider's.**
While I know there are people who do still use these and believe they produce results and make a difference... Maybe they will reconsider things after reading this.
The sweats and glycerin are used with the belief that they will shrink the fat cells in the area they are applied. But do they?
When looking at a horse who is being worked and brought into shape or conditioning, they may have excessive fat cells in the throat latch area or along their neck. Some do, but generally it is in addition to the excessive fat cells that cover their entire body. The overweight or obese horses will display fat globules in certain places- along the crest of the neck, around their shoulder area, in the girth area, along the spine and sometimes near the base of their tail. These can also be signs of other things, but for now, I will leave that for another discussion.
This picture is from Horse Rescue United.
When looking at a horse who is fit, in good shape and overall good condition, you will not see the pockets or places of built up fat cells. Similar to humans, when you are working out and in great shape- the fat cells will have been reduced in size, over the entire body. As your muscle tone increases, the fat cells are 'used up' and they shrink. Sure there will be more sweat produced in places where multiple layers or non breathable materials are used and the sweat cannot escape or evaporate away, but the sweat is not what is shrinking the fat cells. The horses body and muscle development is, as it gets in better shape and in condition. Focusing on and working one particular area, builds up the muscle there and increases the size of that area.
Genetics and heritage can also play a part in how a horse is built. If they come from a breed or line of horses known for having a thick neck and jowls, don't expect a glopping of glycerin, a thin layer of neoprene or a thick woolly sweat to whisk it away for you. Besides, the neck is not the only part of your horse a judge looks at.