Anhydrosis is a life threatening condition in which a horse is unable to sweat during hot, humid weather. The horse depends heavily on sweating to cool his body so any decrease in his ability to evaporate sweat will result in an elevated body temperature. Anhydrosis can present in a similar way in different horse temperaments but the underlying cause and treatment is quite different. Knowing your horse’s correct temperament can help you approach this serious condition with the best chance of success.
Signs of anhydrosis in a Metal horse:
Patchy or no sweat when other horses are sweating
Dry, sticky hair and areas of hair loss especially around the face
Flared nostrils even when resting
Body temperature over 100 even at rest
Any horse can get anhydrosis but the Metal horse temperament is especially prone this condition. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Lungs and Large Intestine are the organs associated with Metal. In TCM the Lung has the role of dispersing the defensive Qi(energy) in a protective layer under the skin.
The Lung is also responsible for opening a closing the skin pores. If the Lung Qi is weak then the skin pores will be too open, allowing for the escape of some defensive Qi along with excess sweat. Loss of defensive Qi allows for the invasion of external pathogens such as Cold.
The Cold pathogen causes contraction and closing of the skin pores. I believe the cold water hosing of the Metal horse with weak Lung Qi can bring on or worsen anhydrosis by allowing the Cold pathogen to enter the body and contract the pores. Once the pores contract the sweat can not escape to cool the body.
When the Lung energy is low it can’t properly disperse the defensive Qi or properly regulate the opening and closing of the skin pores. Patchy areas of sweat or excessive sweating indicate uneven dispersal of protective Qi and this is an early warning sign that full blown anhydrosis could develop. To prevent or treat anhydrosis in the Metal horse temperament you want to strengthen the Lung Qi clear the Cold pathogen and open closed pores.
Prevention or treatment of anhydrosis in the Metal horse:
Avoid cold hosing or ice on the upper body
Sponge on a mild liniment brace such a Sore No More rather than hosing(the liniment will have a mild cooling effect and add essential oils back into the skin)
Feed the Metal horse a diet with extra high quality fat to help keep the skin healthy
Support the Lung Qi during stress with immune support herbs and natural vit c products such as Citrus C/Q.
Feed mild warming spices such as ginger and fennel which are found in these digestive enzymes
Avoid excess vaccinations
Products less valuable for anhydrosis in the Metal horse:
B vitamin supplements
Extra probiotics are useful for any horse temperament with anhydrosis because the elevated body temperature of the horse will stress the healthy gut flora. Different temperaments will benefit from different pre or probiotics. Bifidus is especially good for the Metal horse.
Once anhydrosis has happened to a horse it is common for it to occur each summer. Even with correct treatment many horses with anhydrosis will not start to sweat again until the weather cools off. If supportive treatments are continued year round it is possible to prevent or lessen further attacks. Madalyn
To find out more details about feeding and management of each temperament type check out our online course.