With summer fast approaching, its that time of year when the days become longer and the weather warms up. Majority of people love the hotter weather, but for horse owners it can be a totally different story. If the temperatures get too warm, this can make the horse very uncomfortable and can be very dangerous for them. Horses are prone to dehydrating very quickly and can become lethargic when suffering with the heat. The heat can also cause havoc with their digestive systems, which often results in them developing colic. With this, we have listed some very helpful horse care tips on how to keep your horse healthy, well and safe during the summer period.
Horse care tips for outside
If you horse lives outside, it is very important that you provide them enough shaded area, so they can get out of the sun when needed. A tree can provide some form of relief from the sun, but you must be aware that this does not provide complete shade as the sun moves throughout the day. Its recommended that you provide a field shelter, which is easily erected and would better suit your horse. Another advantage of having a field shelter is; the entrance can be roped off to gives you control of the horse staying indoors when the temperature really sores.
Horses housed in barns
If your horse is kept in a barn, the barn should have enough air circulating around so that they are kept cool. If the air doesn't circulate that well, you should consider installing a few ceiling fans. Remember these must be kept out of reach of the horses.
Give your horse a good hose down
Horses love a good hose down when the weather is really hot. When hosing down it is recommended to avoid hosing the gateway because this can create a muddy mess that everyone has to walk through when visiting the horses.
Turn out when the temperature drops
When the temperature is really hot it is best that the horse is kept indoors and only turned out when it gets significantly cooler, which is typically early morning and later in the evening. This is particularly true if the paddock provides no form of shelter. Grey horses and those that have white and pink on their face are more prone to becoming sunburn, so they're best kept indoors during the hotter weather.
Reducing the workload
If it is necessary to ride during the hot weather, you might want to consider reducing the horses workload, so that the ride wont put too much pressure on the horses. If they're due an exercise during the hot weather, you should also look to shorten the length that they exercise to avoid become dehydrated and overly tired. Once you have finished exercising, you should remove the saddle straight away. Give them a good hose down and plenty of drinking water so that they cool off quickly, this is why horse care is important.
Provide fresh, clean drinking water
One of the most important tips is making sure that your horse has access to clean drinking water (daily) you should always check their drinking bucket and water troughs to make sure that its topped up if necessary. It is also important that their water area is regularly cleaned and relatively free of any bugs.
Make sure to clip your horse
Some horses carry too much coat and therefor will sweat a lot more. For horses that suffer with diseases such as PPID and cushings would also benefit from regular clipping during the hotter months.
Horse care routine is important
Horses love routine, so you must stick to it as much as possible. Any sudden changes can upset the horse and thereon cause issues with their digestive systems and internal clocks.
Symptoms of heatstroke
As a horse owner it is vitally important that you recognise the symptoms of heatstroke. Heatstroke can strike at anytime, especially during exercise on a hot summers day. The following signs are what you should watch out for:
- Temperature that is above 103°F
- Faster heart rate that wont drop in a reasonable amount of time
- Sweating prefusley, or lack of sweating
If any of these symptoms raise concerns, you should contact the vet immediately and place the horse in a cooler area until the vet arrives.
As with any animal during summer, you must always be mindful of their behaviour and health. Watch out for the hotter days and take necessary precautions. Fresh water daily and areas to keep them cool, will help keep your horse, safe and well during summer.
For further advice please make sure to visit the horse advice section.