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.


  1. "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?"
    If they did girl I would be wearing one around my waist as I type!
    As far as I know they would just draw the free fluid out of the area ,dehydrate the muscle tissue(temporarily) and give the illusion of a more sculpted neck,I supposed over time it would remain smaller due to some muscle wasting . This is all a hypothesis on my part with a cursory knowledge anatomy and physiology (and a dose of shit house logic)I doubt they are a good thing in the long run. and back to the Judge ,I wish I could believe they were assessing the horse for its usability , and long term soundness , not just the "look of the month"

  2. FV- I forgot to mention the part about dehydration. My bad! You caught it though so Kudos! on that.

    Yep, if the sweats worked why wouldn't the horses backs, under a saddle pad, always be fence post thin too? How about the lower legs- neoprene splint boots anyone?

  3. Gives a whole new meaning to the term rubber-necked, doesn't it? Glycerin is extremely hyygroscopic. Exactly, Fern.
    I did some research on glycerin, when I was trying to help with an entirely different issue.

    "Glycerin is a neutral, sweet-tasting, colorless, thick liquid which freezes to a gummy paste and which has a high boiling point. Glycerin can be dissolved into water or alcohol, but not oils. On the other hand, many things will dissolve into glycerin easier than they do into water or alcohol. So it is a good solvent.

    Glycerin is also highly "hygroscopic" which means that it absorbs water from the air. Example: if you left a bottle of pure glycerin exposed to air in your kitchen, it would take moisture from the air and eventually, it would become 80 per glycerin and 20 percent water.

    Because of this hygroscopic quality, pure, 100 percent glycerin placed on the tongue may raise a blister, since it is dehydrating. Diluted with water, however, it will soften your skin. (Note: While people say this softening is the result of the glycerin attracting moisture to your skin, there is heated debate as to whether or not the glycerin has some other properties all its own which are helpful to the skin. Summed up, the current thinking is "We know glycerin softens the skin. Some people think its because it attracts moisture, but there could be other reasons.")"

    Rubber-necked, how would you feel if you tried to raise that neck, after having it totally sweated/heated... Yes, I get it.

    weird, what people do..


    Thanks, CNJ.
    My eyes, my eyes...

  4. Just another terrible thing we do to equines in the name of what humans think they should look like and be.

    Sweating and dehydration are only temporary ways to loose weight or mass. I does come back.

    At one time, Spunky had a small fat pad on either side of his tail. **Hangs head in shame**

  5. And to think I didn't put up a picture of the sweat with a tube and a hairdryer hooked to it... I can't remember who carried them.

    When the horses are in shape, well fed and cared for, there really is no need for all the extra steps and overpriced crap to 'enhace' the way they look.

    Just like CCC said- another thing we do to make them look like we think they should.

    Hell, none of us are perfect. Why should we expect every one of them to be?

  6. FV - I DID know girls who wore them around their waists!!

    I remember the blow-dryer setup, too.

    I think people believe that sweats work because

    a) it lays the hair and mane down REALLY flat, producing an illusion of "thinner."

    b) It compresses the flesh enough that there is a temporary "slimming" effect when you take it off

    c) Maybe it does squish stuff around longer term? Like when women who are corseted 24-7 take off the corset, their ribs and organs are indeed squished to different places?

    d) People THINK it works. Wet horse parts look skinnier than dry horse parts.

    AQHA halter steers with pencil necks and babydoll heads: CREEPY.

    Personally, I think their necks are skinny more from breeding and bad muscling than from constant sweating.

    People still sweat their horses. Girls LOVE to put those Sleezy things on their horses.

    I always questioned the logic.

  7. I just have to say that I think the whole thing with neck sweats is pure silliness.

    Although I have done zero research on neck sweats, I have trouble with the notion that you can reduce the size of any fat cells with anything other than diet and exercise. I would think that the body is efficient enough that if you start stripping fluid out from one area, the body redistributes fluids from other parts of the body. I would think that would happen rather quickly. Urine output would probably decrease, not allowing the body an opportunity to filter or flush toxins and waste effectively. What about other muscle tissue? I could see this setting the horse up for cramping and slower tissue repair, so overall more muscle soreness. Not necessarily a good idea. But, like I mentioned, I have done zero research. I could be way off the mark.

    I can promise that if this stuff worked, I would be running around with glycerin and neoprene slathered all over my ass and thighs. So would many other women.

    Keep in mind what happens to human athletes who do this sort of stuff for weight loss. It leads to bad trouble for a good number of them.

  8. 'If they did girl I would be wearing one around my waist as I type!'

    'I can promise that if this stuff worked, I would be running around with glycerin and neoprene slathered all over my ass and thighs. So would many other women.'

    Too funny - and true!

  9. It's actually one of my pet peeves as regards the whole women/beauty industry. The lotions and potions you use very often contain glycerin. These potions and lotions "puff up" your skin, wrinkling it even MORE, imo.
    Consumers of these products get into a vicious cycle, of puffing up, wrinkling down, and puffing up again..

    It is just so odd, what people will do, and for what?
    Their own eyes. Not the horses.
    Most annoying..

    Remember the funny neck "hoods" seen in the Horse in Sport series on eventers, for training their manes over? Ginny Leng's barn?
    That I can understand. Just a thin sheet,with sweating not even close to the purpose. Must work great with really stubborn manes.

  10. GL.... I like pure almond oil or shea butter as a moisturizer, or else good old Clinique Dramatically Different, which is mostly mineral oil I think. Probly also glycerin...

    Training manes.... glad I never had to do that!!

    The neck sweat stuff reminds me of all the creams & such that women use to reduce their cellulite. I'm totally dubious.

    Again, a squished teeny weeny crestless stallion neck is.... wrong.

  11. The thin colorful mane for the people and do no harm. (And it's funny to embarrass your horse in front of it's buddies! The look on their face is priceless!)
    But, sweating necks? For the show ring? Wouldn't that once again be a form of cheating, as in altering the horse's natural genetic heritage and creating a false picture? Oh I guess I forgot...that's what the obscene shoeing, torture devices, gingering, fake hair, tattooing and plastic surgery is about. Never mind...
    And then the show ring industry wonders why people are disgusted with them.

  12. I used full and throatlatch neck sweats on my Arab stallion when I was showing and I don't think they did a bit of good.

    I agree the effect, if any, is VERY fleeting, as fleeting as support hose on my puffy ankles ;~/... gone within minutes to an hour after removal.

  13. WB... that's a PERFECT analogy!!!!

  14. 14th, for slimming, not puffing;)