Summer temperatures are here and you are worried about how the heat may affect your horse. Follow these simple tips to make sure your horse stays comfortable, safe and healthy during the warm summer months:
Make sure your horse always has access to clean, fresh water. A horse under work in hot weather can drink as much as 25 gallons of water a day. You also may need to clean your troughs and buckets more often in hot weather, as algae and insects grow and reproduce much more rapidly in standing water when it’s hot than when it’s cool.
Provide shade when you can. This might be a loafing shed, run-in shelter or just a good shade tree, but a horse that has shade available will tend to move out of the sun if it is getting too hot. If your horse is stalled, make sure there is good airflow through the area to provide heat relief – fans can be very useful. And if you turn your horse out for a portion of the day, do it in the morning or evening when the temperatures are cooler.
Make sure your horse has access to free choice salt. Salt drives thirst and replaces the key electrolyte sodium. Supplying other supplemental electrolytes via a good quality mineral (electrolyte) supplement will help replace other key nutrients for horses that are losing a lot of electrolytes by sweating. This can be especially important for horses under work.
You can provide extra cooling for your horse by bathing it with cool water. After a workout, spray your horse’s neck, back, rump and legs with cool water. Most horses will love a cool bath on a hot day.
The summer heat usually brings insects, too, so use repellant, fly masks and other insect control to keep your horses as comfortable as possible.
Modify your work or training schedule so that harder work with your horse is being done at cooler times of the day. If you must work your horse when it is very hot, decrease the time and intensity of the session to keep the horse from overheating.
If you suspect your horse is suffering from heat stress, consult your veterinarian. A rectal temperature higher than 103° F is a sign of heat stress. Other signs of heat stress include excessive sweating, heaving breathing or “panting”, lethargy and going off feed.
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