Why Do Horses Sweat? The Super Surprising Secret

Whenever our body accumulates heat, either from intense exercises or humidity, the 2.5 million eccrine glands work hard to release sweat and balance the body temperature.

However, that’s us.

What about our four-footed friends?

Do horses sweat?

If this question ever comes to your mind, don’t leave it unanswered.

Allow me to share my knowledge on this matter. Please read on to see what you have missed.

Why Do Horses Sweat

Do horses sweat and why?

Well, when it comes to perspiration, some of us think that all animals, or at least all mammals, share the same behavior.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Our trusted friends – dogs, for example, pant to reduce their body temperature.

How about horses? Do they also sweat?

Interestingly enough, they do. I find this phenomenon extremely fascinating so I would go into detail a bit.

As a horse owner, I let my horse run around quite often. Domesticated horses don’t have to run for their lives from predators, but they do occasionally work up their muscles.

Be it running or just walking around, all of these activities produce heat. Because horses have strong and tight muscles, they generate fierce heat when exercising.

Same as humans, these four-hoofed animals want to get rid of uneasy feelings. They release heat through the respiratory and integumentary systems.

The problem is when heat is overwhelming, the two systems can’t bear the task alone. Horses need another way to cool down their body. And that’s when the hypothalamus kicks in.

The hypothalamus, situated in the brain, notices, and replies to alterations in temperature. When the temperature is too high, it sends off signals to specific glands under the skin.

horse sweat a lot

Horses sweat when the accumulated heat is unbearable

These glands produce sweats. Sweats carry heat as they vaporize, thus lessening the body temperature.

Do horses sweat a lot?

We can pretty much relate to these four-hoofed animals when it comes to sweat. When the weather is intolerably hot or when the exercise intensity is too high, we tend to sweat more.

So do horses. They do sweat a lot during vigorous and long-hour exercise or performance.

According to scientists from Martin Luther University in Germany, the volume of fluid loss in horses can be divided into five patterns. They base on the amount of water and body weight horses lost to define these patterns.

So at the first stage, horses will lose roughly 1 gallon of water and 0.7% of their body. The ratings increase unevenly. And at the fifth level, horses can lose up to 5 gallons of water and 3% of their weight.

At this stage, you will notice that fluid starts to form above their eyes and under their abdomen. Health condition significantly affects horses’ perspiration. Unfit animals tend to sweat more.

>>> Read more: Best Horse Electrolytes to Replace their lost through sweat

Which animal sweats the most?

human sweat most

Horses, of course, are not the animal that sweats the most. The answer is quite surprising. Humans and hippos are the two kinds that rank at the top regarding perspiration.

The funny thing is both seem to have unique features when it comes to sweating.

If you are lucky, you will have a chance to see hippos sweat in the zoo. They are mainly covered with a red substance that seems to resemble blood.

Research from Kyoto University found that those oily red-hued sweats contain antibacterial elements. They lessen the damage of the sun and manage the body temperature.

Humans sweat a lot. And when we do, we emit foul body odor. As a matter of fact, we humans are not the only animal who sweats a lot but also the stinking species on earth.

Do horses sweat white?

If you are a newbie in raising horses, you may have asked yourself this question. Those who have already had experience, are familiar with the white foamy sweat lingering on the horse’s skin.

That does not necessarily mean that horses sweat white. They don’t exude color. The white foamy substance you see results from Latherin.

To explain this, I need to talk a bit about the horses’ perspiration mechanism. Unlike humans, horses own waterproofed fur and skin. As a result, sweat cannot easily evaporate as they do in humans.

So how can horses cope with this condition? Here is what they do:

So horses during perspiration produce latherin to dampen the hair and allow moisture to get to the surface and evaporate. Latherin is a non-glycosylated surfactant that contains over 35% hydrophobic. It functions like soap.

latherin horse sweat

Horses produce latherin to help them clean off moisture. (Source: https://practicalhorsemanmag.com)

Scientists found latherin in a horse’s saliva and suggested that it is the source of this substance. The hydrophobic element effectively resists water, helping horses digest dry food. Without latherin, sweats can never disappear. And that causes serious health problems.

If you see your horses are covered in white, don’t mistake that they are overwhelmed. Their body just does the job.

What is a lathered horse?

You will see horse owners use this term very often. Whenever the horses are back from a ride, they are gathered. In other words, a lathered horse refers to his or her foamy body after working out and sweating too much.

Now some horses get super lathered every time they sweat, others are not so much. Please don’t freak out if you have seen your horse get soapy. It does not mean that there is something wrong with the sweating system.

Your horse may have anhidrosis or partial anhidrosis, which means your horse is unable to sweat. This is a critical medical problem, so you need to consult with a vet to find out what to do.


Now you have found the answer to the question “do horses sweat?” They do sweat and sometimes can sweat a lot. Perspiration helps horses level out their body temperature and resist accumulated heat.

So our four-hoofed friends also share the same sweating behavior as us. There are many more interesting facts about them waiting for you to unfold.

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