Summer is finally here, and while this can be a great time to ride your horse, the heat can potentially be dangerous for these magnificent creatures. High temperature hazards can include dehydration, lethargy and general malaise, while extreme heat stress can cause colic and diarrhea.
To ensure you and your four-hoofed companion have the best, safest summer, here are some tips to help keep your horse cool and healthy during the sweltering season.
Provide Plenty of Shade and Cool
If your horse primarily lives outdoors or spends significant time outside during the day, please provide them with ample relief from the sun—we suggest a run-in shed. Trees are also a great source of shade, but remember that as the sun moves, so does the shade. You could also use fans to maintain a cool atmosphere but be careful with placement of cords and plugs.
Choose Turnout Times During the Cool Parts of the Day
If your horse has a stall but is turned out for part of the day, use the cooler hours to provide turnout. The best time is overnight, but if that’s not feasible, try having your horse go outside as early in the day as possible.
Make Sure Your Horse Has Access to Fresh, Cool Water
If you leave a water bucket out on a fence, the water will eventually get warm, unappealing and unhealthy. Always check the water to make sure that it is fresh and cool.
Mist Your Horse
For those horse owners who have misting systems, use them! Frequently misting your horse is much more effective than a single dousing with a hose.
Watch Out for Sunburns
Just like us humans, horses can suffer from a sunburn—especially white horses. Be mindful of this and keep your horse out of the sun’s harmful rays whenever possible. You could also apply sunblock to small, vulnerable areas which should prove effective in combating nasty sunburns.
Be Aware of the Signs of Heat Stroke
Especially look out for:
- Excessive sweating or lack of sweating
- Temperature that stays above 30 degrees
- Elevated heart rate that does not return to normal after a reasonable period of time
- Lethargy and/or depression