This video is part of a multi video series to introduce and help riders and trainers to the sport of endurance riding. This video explains the process of strapping.
An experienced strapper is a prized possession to be cherished by their riders. Strapping refers to the art of preparing your horse for presentation to the vets. Successful strapping involves knowing your individual horses and what they require in terms of cooling and factoring in the environmental conditions at the event. as a rider you will come in hot from exercise and not really have a real feel for the environmental conditions, ask your strapper if its cold or hot- if you dont have one look around camp and see what people are wearing.
The purpose of strapping is to assist your horse to calm down and recover from exercise, so that the heart rate drops below 55bpm, gut activity resumes, and muscles remain soft and supple for a sound trot out. You have 30 minutes to present to the vets or risk disqualification.
Once you have removed your gear it is a good idea to check your horses heart rate before starting to strap. Generally the horse will be hot and require some cooling to reduce the heart rate. to quickly cool your horse and reduce heart rate, you will usually need to apply water. This can be via a bucket and sponge, or with a hose set up if you have access to one. On hot days ice can be added to the water.
Water is applied to the major blood vessels for maximum effect – such as inside hind legs, neck and shoulders. Avoid putting cold water on large muscles over the rump or on the back, as this can cause cramps and stiffness. While doing this, regularly feel your horses skin temperature, and check he is cooling evenly. You do not want a hot front and cool hind as this will increase heart rate.
Once your horse has cooled down and heart rate is dropping, you may need to place a towel or light rug over the loins to prevent chill. Most people will walk their horses around slowly allowing occasional grazing, to avoid muscles cramping or stiffening. In cold or windy conditions, you may need to put a rug on your horse, in some extreme conditions you may not want to apply any cold water at all – particularly if you have travelled slowly. Always keep monitoring your horses temperature and heart rate beneath the rug.
Let your horse drink as much as possible - ideally water should be tepid. If your horse is not drinking, you can try some molasses mixed in, or offer lucerne hay soaked in water, or a wet bran mash, or a hydrated beet pulp or similar, to try to get some fluids in to trigger gut action and thirst. This is where plenty of buckets come in handy. Avoid giving your horse a big feed straight away, as this can increase heart rate. It is better to allow small handfuls of hay, or pick of fresh grass. Remember to also check your horses feet for any stones, and check for any gear rubs or wounds.
Give yourself plenty of time to amble slowly to the vet ring, and for your horse to relax in the TPR area before having heart rate taken. Don’t forget to take a heavier rug in case there is a cold breeze and you have to wait.