Horse-Showing Tips: Neck Sweats

If you show halter horses, you probably sweat your horse’s neck regularly. With proper care, you can make your horse’s neck sweat stay usable longer.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

To get the most benefit out of neck sweats when conditioning and fitting halter horses, most trainers layer multiple sweats on the horse. It increases the sweat produced in a workout and helps the horse get more out of each work/sweat session.

“I keep a separate set of sweats for each horse in the barn to make sure I am using sweats that fit them properly,” says AQHA Professional Horseman Chris Arentsen of Trenton, Illinois. “It also avoids spreading any crud between horses.”

Chris prefers neoprene neck sweats - which stretch for the best fit - with adjustable Velcro tabs that allow him to get the neck sweat as snug as possible on the horse.

He begins the layering with a plastic garbage bag to increase the heat produced in the sweating process and to protect the sweats from the salty sweat. He wraps the plastic bag around the neck and covers it with his first neck sweat. Over that sweat, he will layer two to four more sweats, depending on how much sweating the horse needs.

The length of time each horse is worked depends on the individual, his condition and how much work his neck might need. Horses are worked just long enough to produce a good sweat under the neck sweats: Once a horse starts breathing heavy, the workout session ends.

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Paying attention to the horse’s breathing helps prevent a horse from being overworked or overheated. Sometimes in the warm summer months, Chris might find it better to work a horse twice a day for shorter periods of time than just one workout, to lessen the stress on the horse.

Each of Chris’ stalls has an eye bolt in the back wall, approximately 6 to7 feet high, with 18- to 24-inch rubber tie cords. These allow the horse to be tied high enough so that he can’t get himself into trouble yet be able to stand comfortably while he sweats. The stall doors are shut for safety reasons, in case the horse gets loose, and there is always someone working in the barn while horses are tied sweating.

The horses dictate their own sweating time, somewhat.

Horses with great necks don’t need as much sweating, and if we have horses we are trying to put weight on, we won’t sweat them as much either,” Chris says.

The horses stand tied until the sweat has dried.

“In the warmer weather, the heat stays longer so they will sweat longer. In the cooler months, the heat’s gone sooner so they won’t sweat as long, maybe just 30 to 40 minutes.”

Chris sweats his horses at home six days a week. The workouts and sweating take up the mornings, and the afternoons are spent washing, grooming and vacuuming the horses.

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He sweats his weanlings much the same way as his older horses. They don’t need as much as the older horses, and he typically doesn’t begin sweating them until closer to the futurity or show for which they are preparing. All of his weanlings are broke to tie before their sweat workouts begin so they are able to stand tied in their stalls to sweat just like his older horses.

Neck Sweat Care

Good-quality neck sweats are an investment in equipment. They will be used almost every day, at home and at the shows, to keep halter horses in peak condition and enhance the appearance of their throatlatch, neck and shoulders.

The average life span of a neck sweat with good-quality construction is two to three years. The useful life can be expanded by using the sweats that are showing more wear as top-layer sweats, keeping the sweats that are in better condition as the base. The plastic trash bags used under the neck sweats protect sweats from salty sweat.

The styles of neck sweats with the removable Velcro tabs make it easy to replace the tabs if they get damaged, lost or just lose their sticking power.

Chris rinses his neck sweats weekly with water, using a pressure washer.

“We don’t use soap because that can become an irritant to the horse if not rinsed clean and can also be corrosive to the sweat,” Chris says.

A car wash is a great place to wash your sweats: Using the floor mat clamps on the wall and the high pressure rinse - no soap - really works to get the sweats clean quickly.