It’s summertime, and keeping horses cool requires stall fans, electrolytes, mineral salt blocks, and lots of water. Did you know that there are foods that can actually help a horse’s body cool down?
In the science of Eastern Medicine, foods are divided into three groups: warming/heating, cooling, and neutral. By adding appropriate cooling foods to your horse’s diet, you help reduce the internal heat. According to Ayurvedic medicine, too much heat can cause an increase in stomach acid production, which then produces more “fire” in the GI tract, as well as dehydration and metabolism imbalance.
The good news is that we can support the cooling of the body system with specific foods that reduce heat. Cooling foods are also beneficial if your horse spikes a temperature from a virus, or is fighting an infection from a wound or injury.
Basic cooling foods for horses include:
coconut summer squash
mangoes winter squash
sweet oranges zucchini
celery chia seeds
dandelion sunflower seeds
kale oat bran
If your horse is an easy keeper, or is metabolic, focus on foods like cucumber, celery, fennel, kale, summer squash, parsley and zucchini. You can give a few slices of sweet apples.
How about salt?
Himalayan salt, sea salt, and Hawaiian lava salts are considered neutral. Table salt is heating, so if you are feeding Morton’s iodized salt, you are increasing the heat.
Keeping riders cool
Horses aren’t the only ones that benefit from cooling foods; riders do too! I discovered a wonderful Ayurvedic recipe for dehydration and depletion:
- 4 cups filtered water or well water (do not use city water if it’s unfiltered)
- juice of ½ lime
- 10-15 fresh mint leaves
- 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
- pinch Himalayan salt or sea salt
Fill a quart-size glass jar with the water. Make sure water is at room temperature. Add the lime juice, maple syrup and salt. Cut up the mint leaves in small pieces and add to the mixture. Let steep for 15-20 minutes. Cover the jar and shake several times. Strain the leaves and serve. Will last five days in refrigeration.
Feeding cooling foods to your horse
If you are time-pressed like I am, you are not always able to cut up vegetables and fruits and add them to the horses’ feed buckets. So I put together some cooling foods in a formula called Cool Star EQ.
Cool Star EQ is a blend of dried and dehydrated foods: cucumber, butternut squash, organic mango, organic fennel seeds, organic parsley, organic sunflower seeds, organic coconut, chia seeds, and Hawaiian black lava salt. I added the cooling GI tract support of BioFlora, which provides micro-encapsulated strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidus from milk — 100 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of active, live probiotics per serving.
Hawaiian black lava salt has the added benefit of being blended with charcoal from coconut shells. Activated charcoal from coconut has been a part of Ayurvedic healing for thousands of years. It is a detoxifier and alkalizer.
How to use Cool Star
Cool Star does not replace electrolytes for horses in training. Cool Star complements electrolytes while also providing key cooling foods that help reduce dehydration, assist in metabolic balance, and support the healthy colonies of microorganisms in the gut.
Cool Star can be given as needed: regularly, or just on extra hot and/or humid days. If your horse is only in light work or is not in work at all, give Cool Star in the morning to keep him cool. If your horse is in work, give Cool Star after the training session to help bring down body temperature and reduce recovery time.
My horses get wet feed, so I just put a scoop of Cool Star in their buckets with their alfalfa pellets and Renew Gold, chia seeds, Optimum, and add water. Cool Star hydrates within seconds. If you cannot feed a wet feed, Cool Star can be given dry.