You and your horse can stay cool and comfortable on these sizzling hot days.
Summer isn’t always the easiest for our equine friends. When temperatures soar and the sun blazes, it can make your horse very uncomfortable. It can also be risky for their health. Dehydration and heat stress are just two common conditions brought on by these hot summer days. You’ll want to make sure your horse is cool and relaxed!
Here’s some advice for beating the heat and keeping your horse safe.
Clean, fresh water should always be available.
While a horse typically drinks five to seven gallons of water on a cool day, in the summer they may need up to 20+ gallons daily. If your horse is sweating, then aim for this number if not more! You may need to add an electrolyte or salt block to encourage them to drink more. Additionally, some owners add water to their horse’s grain to create a soupy mixture. This also helps them to stay hydrated.
Your horse needs shelter from the sun.
Many barn owners switch their turnout schedules. During the day, they bring their horses inside their stalls. And at night, the herd is turned out. Other options include early morning or late evening turnout. The sun won’t be as strong! If a stall isn’t available, a run-in or trees can be used as shelter. It’s imperative your horse has some sort of escape from the blaring sun though. Check out our blog post on shelters here. Photo by @silveroaksfarm
Watch out for thunder and lightning storms.
Summer is notorious for pop-up thunderstorms! It’s the combination of high humidity and warm temperatures. You’ll want to provide your horse some sort of shelter from bad storms. Not only will some horses panic and gallop around dangerously, but trees can also fall down when lightning and heavy winds strike.
You can cool your barn down with a fan.
A fan in the barn or run-in shelter can make a huge difference. Make sure your horse can’t reach the cords though! Since fans create airflow, an added bonus is fly protection. Flies struggle to move around in the wind, which means they will have trouble landing on your horse!
Because hot air rises, a roof vent can also make your barn cooler. For additional relief, open doors and windows to increase air circulation.
You may want to decrease the intensity of your rides.
Ultimately, some summer days may be too hot for intense work. Your horse can succumb to heat stress if you’re not careful. It’s best to ride in the early mornings or in the evenings. Try to avoid the peak of the day. If that isn’t an option, shorten your rides and keep an eye on their breathing. Remember, your horse is likely to overheat quicker than you!
After you have cooled down your horse, you can hose off their entire body. It’s best to use a sweat scraper on them immediately after hosing. The hose water can quickly warm on their skin.
Careful white horses may sunburn!
Pink skinned horses and ones with white markings are at risk for sunburns. Sunscreen and UV attire can prevent a nasty sunburn. These horses tend to do better on adjusted turnout schedules, as well. They may need to stay inside during the day.
It can be helpful to clip a hairy horse.
Some horses struggle to loss their winter coat, especially those with conditions like Cushing’s disease. A thick coat tends to trap heat and make it harder for your horse to cool down. It’s advisable to clip them!
Observe your horse for health concerns.
Throughout the day, keep a watchful eye on your horse. You’ll want to look for profuse sweating, dehydration (the skin pinch test can be helpful), rapid respiratory rate, elevated temperature, lethargy, and abnormal behavior. Horses in optimal condition tend to handle the heat better.
Summer doesn’t have to be hot and miserable for your horse. You can take the right steps to make them feel cool and comfortable throughout the day!
Emily Fought discovered her passion for horses early on in life. When she isn’t writing about them, you can find her in the barn riding. Although Emily’s background is in dressage, she enjoys cross-training and is an avid trail rider. She resides in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and small dog. Together, they own and operate Humblewood Farm.