The weather lately has been unexpected to say the least. England is known for its miserable, changeable weather but for the last few weeks the sun has been scorching enthusiastic beach-goers and tan-seekers. As temperatures soar, hundreds and thousands of people head to the shore with their BBQ’s and swim gear to soak up as much sun as possible before winter sets in once more.
But the hot weather can be dangerous for horses who can easily suffer from dehydration, heat stroke, lethargy and much more because of being too hot. If you own a horse, it is vital you prioritise them during the hottest days our country has seen in years!
Here at Prime Stables, we are passionate about ensuring horses are well-cared for and happy. That’s why we have listed our top tips on how to keep your horse cool during summer. We hope you find it useful!
Your horse can often spend a lot of his time stood in a field, the sun’s rays increasing in intensity throughout the day, heating the ground, the air and your horse to extremely elevated temperatures which cause more harm than good. If your horse spends most of his days outside, we would advise providing him with a suitable shelter so that he can rest in the shade should he need to. Whether you ensure he is placed in a field with trees or other shrubbery that provide shade, or whether you turnout your horse close to his stall so that he can always rest there for relief from the sun.
Another alternative is choosing cooler turnout times. On hotter days of the year, we would advise you turnout your horse into pasture during the cooler hours. Overnight is ideal, but if that’s not possible, send your horse outside as early as possible during the day. Early in the day is generally the coolest and helps avoid your horse becoming overheated.
Provide Fresh Water
On hot days, it is especially important that you provide your horse will fresh, cool water. If you simply hang a bucket or water on a pasture fence, it will warm in the sun and will not offer your horse ultimate refreshment. If the water is left throughout the day, it can attract insects and will no longer be appealing or healthy for your horse.
If your horse is sweating a great deal throughout the day, water laced with electrolytes can help keep your horse hydrated. If you do offer water with electrolytes, be sure to provide your horse with a bucket or freshwater as well.
If you horse is used for work, it can quickly become tired and dehydrated when the temperatures are hot. If it is essential that you work your horse, even in sweltering temperatures, we would recommend either lightening the work load or spreading the work over a couple of short sessions. This is especially important when the humidity is high as your horse will struggle with breathing more than he would in cooler weather. By breaking the work day up into smaller sections, you will allow you horse regular rest breaks to rehydrate and rest in the shade for thirty minutes or so before starting the next work session.
Horses can get sunburnt just as easily as we can and it is essential that they are protected. You can buy specially made sun cream for horses to help protect them from the unrelenting heat of the sun. Be careful when applying sun cream to your horse, that you avoid sensitive areas such as the nose, eyes and mouth. Ultimately, however, staying out of the sun’s harmful rays would be the best option.
Clip Long Hair
If your horse has long hair, it will feel the heat particularly strongly and could suffer from heat exhaustion more easily than other horses. Clipping your horse’s hair is important. While a horse’s coat can provide protection against the elements, a horse’s coat provides a layer of insulation that tends to hold heat and is particularly uncomfortable during the summer months, making it difficult for your horse to cool down.
Exercising in hot weather is difficult for us and, therefore, is just as difficult for our horses. If you find you must exercise your horse, be sure to do it in the morning or the evening when it is cooler and the sun’s rays won’t be as strong or damaging. When exercising your horse in the heat, be sure not to push him too hard as this can easily cause exhaustion.
After riding, help your horse cool down properly by hosing him all over with cool water. We would recommend hosing the neck and inner thighs of your horse as there are large blood vessels in these areas that come to the surface when your horse is hot. By concentrating on these areas, you will cool a great volume of blood. However, still ensure that you hose the rest of his body down too – he will certainly appreciate it!
The most important thing to be aware of during hot weather is heatstroke. If you follow the tips suggested above, it is unlikely your horse will suffer from heatstroke but it is good to know the signs just in case the problem should arise. If your horse is suffering from heatstroke, the signs include increase pulse and breathing rate, dehydration, irregular heartbeat and a raise temperature beyond what is normal. Your horse may also be sweating profusely or not at all.
If you are concerned that your horse is suffering from heat stroke, call your vet immediately for some professional advice.
Here at Prime Stables, we know that hot weather can have a significant impact on the health, happened and comfort of our animals and ourselves! We hope that you have found this article useful and that it has been informative on the tips and tricks used to keep your horse cool during the hot weather. If you would like any more information, please get in touch today, we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have!