Tips For Caring For Your Horse In Hot Weather
As the temperature rises, so does your horse's risk for hot weather dangers. Horses are prone to sunburn, heat stroke, and dehydration in hot weather, especially if they're very active in the summer months. Fortunately, you can keep your horse safe and healthy no matter how hot it gets with these hot weather horse care tips.
Choose Cooler Ride And Turnout Times
Be sure to check the weather reports daily. You'll want to keep an eye on the daily peak temperature as well as the relative humidity. The more humid it is, the less effectively your horse's sweat is able to evaporate, compromising your horse's ability to regulate their body temperature.
Simply add the air temperature to the relative humidity to figure out if it's too hot to ride your horse. Take extra caution if this number is over 150.
Avoid turning out your horse or riding them in the middle of the day. The temperature usually rises by 10AM and peaks around 3 PM. It's best to take your horse out in the early morning while the air is still cool, or after 5 PM when it starts to cool down again.
Provide Plenty Of Shade Naturally, it can be difficult to keep your horse inside on a nice summer day. When they're turned out, they should have plenty of shade to keep them out of the direct sunlight. Trees or an open shed can provide shelter from the blazing sun.
Hose Or Mist Your Horse
You can hose your horse down anytime you think they could use relief from the heat. A mister system is an even more efficient way to keep your horse cool in the summer months. You don't necessarily need a permanent misting system; a misting fan can be set up just about anywhere.
Protect Your Horse From Sunburn
Horses with light skin or sparse coats can be prone to sunburn. If your horse must be out in the middle of the day or early afternoon, protect their sensitive areas, such as their ears and nose, with equine sunscreen.
Protect Against Dehydration
The hot weather can prompt your horse to drink more water, but they may not necessarily drink enough to stay adequately hydrated. Change the water at least once a day to ensure it stays clean, cool, and inviting. You can also soak your horse's hay to increase their moisture intake.
Providing access to a mineral salt lick will prompt your horse to drink more, with the added advantage of supplying electrolytes that they may lose through sweating.
Signs To Watch For In Hot Weather
Check your horse for signs of dehydration each day. Try the skin fold test: gently pinch up a tent of skin on their lower chest. The skin should quickly snap back into place. If it seems loose and inelastic, they are dehydrated.
Dry eyes, an elevated heart rate, and reddened gums are also signs of dehydration. Give your horse immediately, and call your equine veterinarian if their condition does not improve.
Lethargy, restlessness, stumbling, and collapse are all symptoms of a heat stroke. If you suspect your horse is having a heat stroke, get them out of the heat, cool them down with water, and call your equine veterinarian immediately.