Do Horses Sweat? – Know the real reasons behind equine sweating


 “You sweat like a horse,” have you ever heard people making this comparison for a person who sweats a lot? Probably, you may have heard this multiple times.

But do you know why a sweaty person is compared to a horse? It is because horses tend to sweat a lot, and thus the comparison arises. 

So here in this guide, we are going to talk about why do horses sweat, how it occurs, and other associated factors that can help you keep an eye on their sweating tendency.

Is sweating normal in horses?

Can horses sweat? This is not even a question; it is a fact! Horse sweat and their health go hand in hand because sweating in the right amount keeps them stay healthy. But over sweating and no sweating at all can be a serious call for some underlying health conditions.

Horses are known to be the champions of sweat producers owing to their excessive sweating.

Horses have two sweat glands, namely eccrine and apocrine glands that stand responsible for producing sweat, with apocrine glands being the primary sweat gland. 

Horses sweat when they are exposed to a hot and humid climate and have had a hard day working out.

Sweating is an involuntary action of keeping them cool when their body temperature rises and thus aids in removing the heat buildup.

Generally, horses throw away the surfeit of heat from their skin and breathing process, but when these activities are not enough to get their body rid of the surplus heat produced in their bodies, they turn out to be sweaty creatures.  

Real reasons behind horse sweating

Horses do not have any control over their body temperature, and they cannot maintain normal horse temperature or cool themselves by regulating it on their own. Hence, the only way by which they can stay cool is by sweating. 

Horses are known to be fast runners, and they are mostly put to work by their owners. Just as we humans sweat while doing some laborious work during hot summers, horses also turn out to be sweaty when they work. 

So when your equine body produces more heat while working that cannot be administered via breathing process, then their body temperature hikes up, sending signals to their sweat glands to distribute the heat over their skin. 

Hence, arises the sweating process. Further, as and when the sweat evaporates, the body temperatures lower down, making your horses feel cool and relaxed.

What is the normal body temperature of a horse?

Sweating is all about cooling down and maintaining normal horse temperature. In general, the average body temperature of a horse ranges between 99 to 100 degrees.

Anything above this temperature range can result in sweating to reduce the amount of heat in the body.

Things to do when your horse sweats a lot

Sweating is normal, but excessive sweating is not as it can make your horses prone to dehydration which may even result in fatality.

So before we jump into things that can be done if your horse sweats a lot, lets first discuss the signs that tell you that your horse is sweating profusely:

· If your horse always has a high temperature and it doesn’t drop after making it rest for a span of half an hour.

· If your horse’s skin lacks resilience and does not return to its original state quickly when you pinch the skin.

· If you often find your horse depressed, tired and lethargic.

· If they have a quiet gut and do not hear their gurgles and bubbles.

If you happen to discover any of the above symptoms, the chances are that your horse is facing excessive sweating.

So what do you do if your horse is sweating a lot? Get them a deodorant? Kidding! Horses do not need to smell good, but of course, they need to stay hydrated.

So if you have a horse that sweats a lot, then here are a few things that you can do:

  • Consider limiting their outdoor activities during hot weather conditions.
  • Make them consume lots and lots of water to keep them hydrated at all times.
  • Keep a check on their eating habits, movements, general attitude changes, etc., to determine if they are facing any problems due to heat.
  • Consider sponging them with cold water.
  • Feed them electrolyte supplements.
  • Make them exercise and work during cooler times.
  • Also, ensure shade over their head and body when they are not working. A stable works fine for horses as a resting place so that they do not have to stand in the sun, which may cause excessive sweating.

Anhidrosis in Horses

Anhidrosis condition causes hindrance in sweating and can be thought of as the decreased ability of horses to sweat. Sweating is important to maintain adequate temperatures and to provide relief when your body releases a lot of heat.

Anhidrosis in horses can be harmful as it disables the sweating functionality and can cause overheating of the body that may also result in heatstroke. 

Horses that have developed anhidrosis conditions usually have flaky skin, experience fatigue, consume less quantity of water, and may also become victims of hair fall and poor appetite. 

So, if you happen to find any such symptoms in your horse, it may be due to anhidrosis, and you may require immediate medical assistance at the doorsteps of a vet.

What are electrolytes and when does a horse need Electrolyte supplements

Electrolytes stand helpful in maintaining circulatory functions, acid-base balance, fluid balance, and aid in various other functionalities of the body.

As mentioned above, horses sweat instead of keeping their body cool. And while sweating, it is not just the liquid that comes out but also the electrolytes. 

Sweating causes loss of electrolytes from the body and thus may need a replacement in a quick time to keep your horses hydrated, healthy and to boost their recovery process. 

Hence, replacement of electrolytes can be done by feeding your horses with electrolyte supplements. But does your horse need electrolyte supplements

Here are a few instances when you can consider giving them electrolytes:

  • When they sweat excessively
  • When horses happen to work in hot and humid climates that pose difficulty in their body heat dissipation
  • When they are made to work for a long time duration regularly
  • Whenever your horses experience extra stress and are made to run in hot weather conditions
  • When your horses are about to run in a competition as electrolytes will help them keep hydrated


Sweat is not something that we feel pleasant about, but it is a necessity talking in medical terms. Just like we humans, horses also sweat as a reflex to cool down their body temperatures. 

We hope we have given you a brief insight into why sweating is essential for horses and how anhidrosis and excessive sweating can be dangerous. 

If you have an equine partner, make sure that you watch out for any such symptoms that may require immediate administration by a vet to keep your horse healthy and active at all times.

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