Summer is in full swing! While this season is one of our favorites for horse-related activities, the heat can take a toll on our equine friends. We’ve put together some tips to help you beat the heat while riding this summer:
1. Mind the time – Riding your horse during cooler times of the day when the sun isn’t in full force will certainly help keep your horse from overheating. Similarly, we recommend turnout during those times of the day. When you are riding, keep an eye on the length of your ride. Ride times may need to be altered based on temperature, humidity, and overall fitness of the horse.
2. Shade – Whether it be under a large tree or within a run-in shed, make sure your horse has a shaded place to escape the sun. Special consideration must be made for horses in group turnout, so that even the lowest horse in the pecking order can find reprieval from the heat.
3. Water – Plentiful fresh water is a requirement year round and is essential in helping your horse beat the heat this summer. Horses prefer cool, fresh water in the summer. An electrolyte source, such as a salt block or commercial electrolyte supplement added to feed or water buckets, should be available at all times to encourage adequate hydration. It is important to note that not all horses like the taste of electrolytes in water, so make sure to provide a plain water source as well. This is also important so that they can quench their thirst after drinking electrolytes.
4. Airflow – If your horse is stalled during the day, make sure there is adequate airflow through the barn. Fans in stalls and aisles are a great way to keep the air moving.
5. Clipping – Horses with longer hair coats, such as those affected by Cushing’s Disease, may need to be body clipped to keep cool. While clipping the hair gets rid of thick coats that trap heat against the body, it is important to not trim the hair too short so that a protective layer remains to shield the skin from the sun’s rays.
6. Sunburn – Fly masks and fly sheets can not only protect your horse from pesky insects, they can also help protect your horse against sunburn. Special consideration should be made for horses with light skin, especially at sensitive areas like the muzzle, to keep them protected from the sun. Topical sunscreens (lotions or spray-on formulas) can be applied for extra protection.