The summer months provide some of the best weather conditions for both casual horseback riding and (horse racing). Few things are more perfect for horse lovers than riding on a sunny summer day when the sky is clear and blue. But, as enjoyable as this may be, it can also be a problem. Along with the sun and clear skies, the summer may also bring hot weather. In some areas, summer temperatures can reach into the triple digits, while other areas may only feel that way. High heat has the ability to create a number of problems for one's horse and can even prove fatal if the animal is not cared for properly. Fortunately, it is possible to beat the heat and keep horses comfortable when one has the right knowledge and (horse supplies) on hand.
Ensure The Horse's General Health
To best endure the summer months a horse should be in optimal condition. A sickly horse will be less able to endure hot temperatures and cool itself down properly. A healthy horse requires constant care on the part of its owner. Keeping the horse current when it comes to deworming will lessen its chances of getting internal parasites. Fly and mosquito spray should be kept in with the (horse supplies) to help combat the problem of flying pests. A clean stable that is sprayed regularly for flies and mosquitoes will also contribute to the good health of the horses. This is important because horses expend valuable energy defending themselves from these pests. Covering horses with light-colored fly sheets will also prevent them from being bothered by flies and it will also help keep them somewhat cooler.
Basic Tips on Keeping Horses Cool
When the weather is extreme, both heat and humidity can be a threat to a horse, even when (horse racing) or strenuous exercise is not involved. To keep horses safe, following a few simple steps can make a significant difference. One of the most important is to ensure that there is plenty of clean water available at all times. This is crucial as the average work horse will typically drink more than twenty-five gallons of water daily during extreme heat conditions. If the horse's trough is kept out in the pasture, it should be checked frequently to ensure that it is clean, free of insects and that it hasn't become overly hot. When the heat index reaches over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, adding electrolytes for horses to the water can help replenish any salt loss from sweating. Alternatively, electrolytes can be added to feed or squirted directly into the mouth using a large syringe. In addition to ensuring that horses receive adequate drinking water, it may also be necessary to provide them with a bath or shower to cool them down after a workout. When spraying or sponging down a horse, concentrate on its neck, belly, and legs. These areas are where larger blood vessels are found and concentrating on these areas will cool the horse down quicker. A mixture consisting of equal parts cold water and rubbing alcohol will help with sweating.
Exercising or riding one's horses should be done earlier in the day when it is coolest if possible. Prior to riding them, they should be treated with an appropriate repellent to keep flies and other pests from them. The application of sunblock with a mild SPF or a zinc oxide sunscreen to horses with pink or white muzzles will help prevent sunburn. There should also be plenty of shade available for the horses so that they may seek shelter from direct sunlight on hot days. Shade may be in the form of trees or an open, run-in shed. For horses that are in the stable or barn, keep them cool by attaching fans that mist to each stall and keeping the barn door open for circulation. Another option is to use stable fans to help keep the air circulating. Summer heat even affects what horses naturally eat. During hot spells, heat negatively affects the quality and the growth of grass in the pasture. Horses will require better quality hay to make up for this decline. This will help keep the horse's energy up and it will also help its body better regulate its temperature.
What to Look Out For
All horses can fall victim to heat-induced illness such as heat stroke. This can happen regardless of whether they are in a trailer in the barn, or out riding. Despite cautionary measures it is important that owners be aware of the signs of trouble so that they can act upon it quickly. Common signs of concern include excessive sweating or lack of sweating, a raised or elevated pulse during periods of inactivity or heart beats that are irregular. Other major signs of illness include the horse having a temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit and lethargic or depressed behavior. All of these symptoms may indicate a serious problem that will require the attention of a vet. If signs indicate a heat stroke, immediate action must be taken in addition to contacting a vet if symptoms persist. Stop all activity immediately and take the horse to a shaded area. After giving the horse water, give it a bath of cold water to help cool it down. Signs of dehydration include a caved in appearance to the horse's flanks and skin that is slow to collapse when pinched.
Written by Sharon Rogers