Stacey: Keeping Our Cool - Expert how-to for English Riders

Stacey: Keeping Our Cool

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It's hot here in Maryland. And given the amount of red covering the US weather map, there's a good chance it's hot wherever you are, too. (Oh, to be in the Pacific Northwest right now!) Temperatures hovering around 100 with "feels-like" indices pushing 115 or higher means no serious riding. However, I have discovered a few ways to keep Wowie cool and allow me to satisfy my riding cravings. Wowie usually lives outside in a lovely large field with two run-ins with fans?mainly because he HATES being in a stall. However, this week he seems to appreciate coming in to our comparatively breezy barn during the day and napping in front of the fan. When I go out in the evenings to clean his stall, he's READY to get out of there! So I put him in his field with his friend Vinny. The two of them spend 15 solid minutes "fighting" over the automatic waterer. Traci or I will dump the water that's been heating in the bowl all day and let it fill with fresh, cold stuff. The two take turns, one slurping up a mouthful until the other pushes him away to take his own drink, barely letting it refill in between. Afterward, one of us will turn on the hose. While Vinny heads for the hills, Wowie will turn toward the stream of water. He seemingly can't get enough of it, drinking from it like a water fountain and bathing his face in the cool liquid before heading off to join his friend grazing. On days when I find the fortitude to ride, I wait until around 8 p.m., as the sun is dropping behind the trees, to go for a walk on the trails. I'll do a "reverse grooming," hosing off the sweat and scraping Wowie BEFORE our ride, letting it evaporate as we go. He's usually dry when we return, and I give him a good grooming afterward. I'm lucky that our trails offer several creek crossings. Some allow for just a toe dip, but one he can walk in up to his belly. As a bonus, the deeper creek is shaded by dense trees, so the temperature is always cooler there. Wowie wades in behind my dog, Barney, and happily stands in the deep part, sometimes sighing and watching Barney as small fish flutter around his legs and sometimes pawing up a storm while "snorkling" his nose beneath the surface. Between his "hole digging" and swatting me with his sopping wet tail, I'm often nearly as wet as he is by the time we head back up the hill. Barney either wades in until the water is over his back, or plops down in the mud in a shallower area, lapping at the water with his long, pink tongue. We all benefit from our little stop. Once all of us are refreshed, we hug the treeline around the hay field and either ride from creek to creek or head for home just as the last threads of light disappear. Stay cool, friends.

Wowie enjoys getting his face wet.

Wowie enjoys getting his face wet.

Wowie wades in the creek up to his belly.

Wowie wades in the creek up to his belly.

Barney cools off, too.

Barney cools off, too.