June 29, 2011
Correctly fit your halter horse’s neck sweat.
In fitting a halter horse, one of the most-used pieces of equipment is a neck sweat. Sweats may see daily use in conditioning and fitting a horse to show at halter; a trainer sweats a horse’s neck to enhance the appearance of the throatlatch, neck, shoulder and withers.
With different styles and sizes available, fitting the right neck sweat is crucial to using it properly in conditioning your horse.
AQHA Professional Horseman Chris Arentsen of Trenton, Illinois, keeps a separate set of sweats for each horse in his barn, ensuring a correct fit each time a horse sweats.
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“A loose sweat will not be effective to get a good sweat,” Chris says. “The sweat should fit snug all the way down the neck, which will keep it in place while the horse is moving and not cause any rubbing to the neck or mane.
Snug is the key word in fitting a neck sweat. It should fit snugly around the horse’s jowl, starting with the first Velcro strip to hold it in place. You should be able to slip a finger between the sweat and your horse’s jowl. Watch your horse, and if he seems to have difficulty breathing, loosen the sweat at the jowl.
The neck sweat should reach down to your horse’s withers and be smooth against the neck with no wrinkles. The sweat should end right where the shoulder meets the neck – at that 45-degree angle.
When putting the sweat on, make sure it’s laying flat against the horse’s neck as you close the Velcro strips. Chris uses his right hand to snug the sweat against the neck as he uses his left hand to pull up and place the Velcro. Be sure to watch for wrinkles.
It is tempting to start at the bottom to Velcro the neck sweat, but Chris says to start at the top. Attach the Velcro strips beginning at the jowl and work your way down the neck, as opposed to starting at the bottom and going up toward the jowl. This will ensure a snug fit all the way down, without having to adjust the Velcro multiple times.
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“Most neck sweats today are manufactured using neoprene rubber that has some give to it, allowing that snug fit without getting it too tight.”
The most common mistake in using a neck sweat is probably using one that doesn’t fit properly. Even if you use one that doesn’t fit correctly, you will get some benefit from sweating your horse with it – but you won’t get the maximum benefit that a properly fitted sweat will give.
Chris layers multiple sweats on a horse to get more from the sweating process. The bottom sweat must fit the horse correctly, and he uses larger sweats over that to add warmth. For the top layer of sweats, Chris uses sweats that might be older – it lengthens their useful life.
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