Summer means time for trail rides, beach trips, and long nights spent at the barn. It's your perfect opportunity to maximize time spent with your horse, but those hot months also come with problems. If you live in an area that experiences high summer temperatures, your horse has a serious risk of overheating. It doesn't matter whether you're working hard, or your horse is quietly grazing in the field, the summer sun can be dangerous. It's important to realize those risk and take necessary precautions to help your hot horse.
Here are a few things every horse owner should do to keep their horses cool on hot days.
Ride in the Evenings or Early Mornings
Riding in hot weather means that your horse's body temperature will rise. And if they get too hot, they could suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
It's best to schedule your rides for the cooler parts of the day, like the early mornings or evenings. When it's terribly hot out, it may be best to forego your ride entirely. Equus Athletics suggests using a simple formula to help determine if it's too hot to ride. They say to add the actual temperature to the percent of humidity. If that number is above 150, it's too hot to ride.
Hose Down Your Horse
Hosing down your horse can help to lower his body temperature and make him more comfortable. It's a good habit to hose your horse off after each workout to help him cool down. Use cold water and don't be afraid to give your horse a thorough soaking. The water evaporating off your hot horse will create a much-needed cooling effect.
Even if you're not riding, a nice hose down will help keep your horse cool during the hottest parts of the day. Afternoons in the summer can be sweltering, and your horse will appreciate a midday shower as a break from the heat.
Turn Your Horse Out at Night
If extremely high temperatures are normal for your hometown, it might be worth it to switch up your daily routine once summer hits. If you usually turn out your horse during the day, consider nighttime turn outs instead. The air temperature is noticeably cooler after the sun sets, and that will be a big relief for a hot horse. They can graze all they want without feeling the need to seek out shade.
Horses can see quite well in the dark as long as their eyes have time to adjust. And because bugs also disappear with the sun, you can leave your horse's fly mask off to give him full use of his vision.
Provide Plenty of Cool Water
Cool water is one of the most important things to remember when the days get hot. Your horses need constant access to cool water during the summer. They can dehydrate quickly under the hot sun, and dehydration leads to several health risks. It forces the heart to work harder and can interfere with nerves and muscle movement. Not to mention, being thirsty or drinking warm water can make your horse feel even hotter than normal.
Put the water trough in a shaded area to help keep the water cool. You can even put blocks of ice in the water. Wherever you put the trough, remember that your horses will be drinking more than normal, so you'll need to continually check to make sure they don't run out of water.
Always Provide Shade
Whenever your horse is outside in the heat, he should have a way to get into the shade. Strategically placed trees out in the pasture would be perfect, but not every horse owner is so lucky. If your pasture is lacking natural shade, you'll need to install your own. A horse shed will serve your purpose, plus it'll also be useful in the winter to block the wind.
An alternative would be to design your turnout so your horse has free access to his stall. On especially hot days, don't be surprised when your horse chooses to spend most of the day in the safety of the shade.
Offer Your Horse a Fan
For especially hot horses, you may want to bring a fan into the barn to keep air moving through your horse's stall. Most barns aren't equipped with air conditioning, and it's easy for air to get hot and stuffy. A fan might not produce a lot of cool air, but it will at least help with ventilation.
If you bring in a fan, make sure it is a fan intended for barn use. Standard household fans do not have enclosed motors. And if the motor becomes clogged from the dust in the barn, it can burn out and fall through the fan and potentially start a fire.
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