As humans, when we think of summer, the image of a backyard barbecue and time at the pool enters our head. As horse owners, we should also consider how our equine companions can stay comfortable. With summer days come extreme heat. A well thought out management plan can allow horses to stay cool and stress free while helping them adjust, stay healthy, and remain comfortable during the warm summer months. Keep reading to learn the best ways to help your horse tackle summer.
Always Offer Clean Water
One of the most important things you can give your horse is clean, fresh water that is always available. The average horse usually drinks five to seven gallons of water per day in cool weather, while in hot weather, requirements for maintenance and to compensate for losses in sweat may call for an intake of 20 gallons or more per day. Adding an electrolyte to your horse’s food or giving him a salt block can also encourage him to keep drinking!
Some horses just don’t seem to drink as much as others, so it is a good idea to mix their feed with water to create a nice soupy meal. This helps them increase their water intake while still providing them with their favorite meal.
Fans Vs. Fliers
With warmer weather comes annoyances in the form of flying insects. While there is no way to help your horse completely for the rest of his life, fans are one fly control method that can help keep your horse fly-free while they relax in the barn. Fans placed in a stall or barn aisle can help create airflow that makes it difficult for flies to land on your horse.
As with any electric equipment being placed around horses, make sure all cords are secured well in a hidden place not accessible to horses. Horses that get bored in the stall sometimes like to chew on things so feeding the cord through a hole in the wall or behind a guard is advised.
All Day Shade
When it comes to letting your horse out in a pasture, having a safe shelter for him to retreat to in heat or bad weather is very important. If your horse lives outdoors or if he must be outside during the day, provide your horse a place he can use to escape from the sun. A run-in shed is best.
Trees provide good shade when the sun is in the right spot, but when the sun moves those trees will no longer be a good source of shade. Make sure to have multiple shade sources so your horse is protected no matter where the sun is in the sky.
Change Up His Routine
If your horse spends his time outside during the middle of the day, consider switching up his routine during the summer months. Keeping him inside or in a shady place with the ability to just relax when the day gets hot will help him remain comfortable. Do you typically squeeze in a long ride mid day? Try to fit in your horse’s workout during the morning or evening so you can ride while it is still comfortable to be outside. Riding during the middle (and hottest part) of the day can be very dangerous for you and your horse and can lead to heat stress.
If you ride or work your horse in the heat, lighten up the workload or spread it out over a couple of shorter sessions. This is especially important when the humidity is high, which causes the poor quality of the air your horse is breathing. Make sure to cool your horse down slowly while offering frequent sips of fresh, cool water. Take the tack off as soon as you’re done and sponge the horse off again with cool water to help him cool off.
Carolina Equine Hospital
Please give us a call if you have any questions about helping your horse cool off during summer. Taking immediate action if you see your horse in distress is extremely important. With our office hours being Monday – Friday, 8-5, and we are always available to answer questions. We have an emergency vet on call 24/7 and are always available to help with all of your equine needs!