It takes a team to optimise a three-day-eventer’s recovery between the cross-country and showjumping phases, as Liz Brown MRCVS explains
As soon as he is safely over the cross-country finish line, the three-day event horse is met by grooms, support crew and vets. Their aim is to manage and monitor his recovery, maximising his chances of passing the vet inspection the following morning and performing at his best in the showjumping phase.
As the rider dismounts, the grooms untack and check the horse over. Cooling is especially important in hot, humid weather. Heat produced by the muscles during cross-country will raise the horse’s body temperature unless it is dissipated. Core temperature usually rises within five to 10 minutes of finishing.
Heat is lost via the blood vessels in the skin, so applying large volumes of cooled water over the entire horse is the most efficient cooling method. A horse’s temperature, which is usually between 37˚C and 38˚C, can reach more than 40˚C at the end of cross-country. If it rises above 41˚C, he may be at risk of overheating, or hyperthermia, signs of which include staggering, kicking out and a groggy, uncoordinated appearance.