I've always cooled them down directly with water and seen countless people do similar at events. Thinking back of Olympics in hot climates (e.g. Sydney and Athens) there were special water showers to get the horses cooling down as quickly as possible.
I saw that too Eve and thought it seemed like a new thing. I'm sure they used to have the groom rush forward and throw a rug over their quarters at the end of a race. We were always taught to cool down slowly, hence the invention of 'sweat rugs'. I guess the thinking must have changed somewhere along the line and no one told us!
Meant to add Booboo, yes to showers etc in hot climates, we've always given ours a cool spray with the hose when it's boiling but Aintree in April? (especially this April!), I'm willing to bet the wind was leaning towards 'chilly'.
Yes i always aggressively cool after cross country, lots and lots of cold water, scrape off, repeat. It is not new per se, but dates from a heap of research done after the kentucky world championships in 1978 when a lot of horses were very ill indeed. So if your instructor predated that then it would explain why you were surprised.
Kentucky was really hot and humid though wasn't it? Something our horses were totally unused to and they suffered for it.
I'm sure all those of you who do endurance etc know much more than me about it and I'm not disputing what you say in the slightest, it just seems odd to me to walk about soaking wet in cold air considering that they give marathon runners those 'silverfoil' blankets at the end of the race to stop them getting cold too quickly.
I reckon they just wanted the horse to look nice and shiny for the photos .
In endurance we always aggressively cool at each vet stop - making sure to sweat scrape away the water (it is the scraping off of the now warm water this conducts the heat away from them).
In racing around the world we always have hoses next to the track to wash horses down so they can then walk back to the barns and dry as they go. However this is usually in hotter climates than we have here.
I think we've been slow to do this and I think it is a good thing. Courses like Newmarket now have special wash down bays and York are going to incorporate them in their new pre-parade/saddling area design.
Im a bit old fashioned! I would be nervous about cold water after exercise and my horse wouldnt like it at all anyway, and would get herself stressed if I tried to hose her. Id be worried about the shock causing colic? I use a sweat rug after a good rub down with straw and sometimes pack straw under the rug to wick away the sweat. Looks a bit funny but Ive been doing it for thirty years and it works!
That just doesn't cool hot horses down quickly enough LittleWhile, and can lead to heat exhaustion and extended recovery times. All sorts of things were ok 30 years ago but have been superseded, think horrible jute rugs, weekly bran mashes, worming twice a year, without worm counts. You don't need to hose your mare, in fact i don't have a hose on my trailer, just sponge on copious amounts of cold water, scrape off and repeat.
We have done a lot of eventing, at home and abroad. The recommendations re cooling were changed as a result of a big piece of research before the Atlanta games.
The recommendation is to cool with water and dont scrape - use more cool water to rinse off the previous soak. As I recall, the reason for this is that the water is conducting the heat away and if you scrape, you aren't allowing it to do this.
So, lots of cool rinses, then walk (or roll) to dry off. Bear in mind that unless you are racing, eventing or endurance riding, you probably won't have elevated your horse's temp to danger levels, so don't worry.
As many others have already said, in hotter climates this is totally the norm. The dangers of overheating a horse are severe and can hae long-lasting consequences. Where I am my horses are cold hosed after almost every ride (excluding light work on the odd cooler day). I suppose after the G. National the horses are so hot that the cooling effect of the April wind just wasn't going to work quickly enough.
What carabos said. We no longer scrape our horses in the vet gates, just water, water and more water. In Australia we always cold hosed or took them for a swim in the dam after work, that was 30 years ago. I agree about the life long learning eve and being able to change your practice according to the current evidence.