Keeping cool in the extreme heat and humidity isn’t always easy for our horses, but there are many easy precautions you can take and easy routine changes you can make. Check out our tips for heat safety in all aspects of your horse’s life to help your horse stay as comfortable as possible all summer long.
If You’re Riding
1. Use lightweight tack that covers the least amount of your horse’s body. This might mean switching from your heavy western saddle to a lightweight English saddle or bareback pad.
2. Take it easy! Your horse will appreciate a lighter and shorter ride. If you usually work in a sunny ring, maybe opt to take a trail ride in the shade instead. No matter what you do, be sure to include a proper cool down at the end of your ride.
3. Before you finish with your horse, be sure to give him a nice cold shower with the hose to cool his body temperature. The most important areas to spray are his neck, chest, and between his legs.
4. Adjust your turnout schedule so your horse can be out in cooler times of day: in the early morning and in the evening. These are also the times of day with the best shade. If you turn out in the middle of the day, be sure your horse has some access to shade for relief from the blazing sun.
5. Don’t let the bugs stress your horse out even more. For horses sensitive to bugs, make sure you take fly care seriously. You may even consider investing in a fly sheet with cooling technology, like the WeatherBeeta Airflow fly sheets, that will repel flies and keep air flowing.
6. Sometimes it’s most comfortable to stable your horses midday, when the sun is at its max. If they are in during the day, install fans in your barn aisle and/or stalls for good airflow.
7. If you need to transport your horse in the heat, consider adjusting transport time to cooler times of day. Be sure to have the trailer vents open, and offer water frequently.
8. Maintaining your horse’s hydration is vital in high temperatures. All horses should have free access to water at all times! To check for hydration at home, you can try the following tests:
- Pinch a little skin on the horse’s neck and wait for it to go back down. If it stays “pinched” for more than a few seconds, he might be dehydrated.
- Check capillary refill time. To do so, press down on a small area of the horse’s gums with one finger until it turns pale (a few seconds). Remove your finger and monitor how long it takes for blood to refill those capillaries (turn back to normal color). If this takes more than a few seconds, he might be dehydrated.
9. If you suspect dehydration, you may be able to help your horse yourself by giving electrolyte supplements. A quick solution to mild dehydration is fast-acting electrolyte paste. The paste comes in a single-use syringe and will work quickly to restore electrolytes. This is a great item to keep in the barn just in case. You can also be proactive by feeding an electrolyte powder in your horse’s morning feed, as well as dissolving them in the water trough, and offer a salt or mineral lick to encourage drinking.
Note: If you ever suspect severe dehydration, call your vet immediately.
10. Freeze gallon jugs of water and place them in your water trough like ice cubes! The cold water will help regulate your horse’s temperature from the inside out.
Use these tips to make sure you can continue to have fun with your horses this summer, even if you’re drenched in sweat.
And, as with all horse health matters, make sure you reach out to your vet if you notice any abnormal or concerning behaviors with your horse in the heat and humidity.
Do you have any more tips and tricks for keeping your horse cool in the summer? Leave us a comment with your best one!