How To Keep Your Horse Healthy In Hot Weather
Do you get hyped for each summer as an equestrian? We do, too! More free time, nice weather to ride outside, competitions, hanging out with other equestrians… What is not to like in summer? But, when the heat starts to increase up to an extreme level, things might go south so fast for horses.
Just like humans, horses can get fatally affected by high heat. They can have heat stroke, sunburns, and other serious health problems. Young, old, and ill horses are prone to having health issues due to extreme heat. However, any healthy adult horse can experience heatstroke. If you have a heavy training schedule or serious competitions this summer, grab some cool drink and read through! We have tips to help you keep your horse safe and sound this summer.
How To Prevent Heat Stress
The best way to keep your horse healthy in summer is to prevent heat stress by eliminating the reasons. Heat stress can be diagnosed with different symptoms such as elevated respiratory, profuse sweating, elevated temperature, lethargy, discolored mucous. Every year, some horses die in summer due to heatstrokes and lack of knowledge. Here is what you can do to prevent heatstrokes at your barn:
Even on an ordinary day, horses need gallons of water. Their hydration need will easily double and even triple on hot days. Try to observe how much water your horse is drinking in summer. Keep the water buckets and throughs clean from dust and bugs.
To encourage water intake, you can try these tips:
- Have water breaks within your training if you are training for more than 30 minutes.
- Encourage the horse to drink more water by adding treats into the bucket or through. You can throw some sliced apples, strawberries, bananas, watermelon, cucumber, etc into the water and turn it into a game.
- Add ice into the water, especially into the throughs in the paddock.
- Add water into the feed. You can soak the hay and grains in some water before feeding.
- If the flies are not allowing you to keep the water clean, you can consider adding some apple cider vinegar to the water. ½ or 1 cup of apple cider vinegar will keep the flies away.
2. ADJUST YOUR RIDING SCHEDULE
We can understand that you are training hard to achieve your dreams, and the summer is the best time for you to ride. However, the stress of training is already enough for horses. When it is combined with heat, it becomes unbearable for them. If you need to keep riding in hot weather, you should change your schedule and choose to ride in the cooler hours of the day like early in the morning or the evening. Instead of riding outside, you can ride in a ventilated indoor arena. If you have to ride outside, try to choose a location with enough shade.
3. CHANGE TURNOUT TIMES
Every horse loves the turnout for sure! Running free and grazing on delicious summer grass is fun. But turnout in an extremely hot July afternoon can cause heat stress if the horse is not accustomed to the climate. Instead, you can schedule turnouts in the early morning, in the evening, or even at night so that your horse can enjoy the cool weather while having fun. Also, keep in mind that the paddocks should provide enough shadow to all the horses. This can be provided with either trees or run-in shelters.
4. USE FANS INDOORS
Your horse should stay in the shadow while the sun is highest. However, indoor areas like the stables and indoor arenas don’t have any natural air circulation. When the weather is stagnant in such hot weather, it will be harder for horses to breathe and cool down. Therefore, horses will appreciate some breeze around their stalls during the day. You can install two large fans in the barn aisle and keep the air circulating in a cool breeze.
5. MIST AND SHOWER REGULARLY
Who doesn’t need a cool shower after sweating gallons! Horses can sweat a few gallons if they work in hot weather The best way to clean the sweat and cool off faster is to offer a cool shower of course. You can shower your horse with a horse and scrape the water gently until he feels refreshed enough. If you are not up for a long shower ritual, misting will be helpful too.
6. CLIP IF NECESSARY
Clipping the extra hair is another option to keep your horse cool. While some horses shed their coat really fast and have a thin summer coat, others might have a hard time with shedding. This will lead to extreme sweating and your horse will need longer time to cool off. Instead of dealing with too much sweat, you can clip off the coat just like clipping in winter.
7. AVOID SUNBURNS
Yes, horses can get sunburnt too! Especially, grey horses with pink spots around the muzzle and eyes are prone to getting sunburnt during this season. To prevent it, you can apply sunscreen around your horse’s muzzle and use a fly mask on its face. If he gets too sensitive in the sunlight, using a light summer rug to cover the whole body is also acceptable. Just make sure that the material is breathable and the horse doesn’t sweat under it.
8. CHOOSE YOUR TACK WISELY
Common sense can easily remind you that you should keep your horse’s back as cool as possible under the saddle. Therefore, using lighter and breathable saddle pads is almost obligatory in summer. Cotton breathable pads will allow some airflow under the saddle and prevent excessive sweat. But that is not all! Almost every equestrian uses leg protection in one way or another. It is important to keep your horse’s legs safe from injuries; yet, you should consider the damage that heat can cause on the legs. We highly recommend using breathable protection boots and wraps until the end of summer. You can also choose open-front boots to have air circulation around the legs.