Keeping Your Horse Cool in Hot Weather
Come the hot weather we all get a little sweaty and sticky, and it can be near impossible to keep cool, especially if the humidity is high. One of the things about humid weather is that it can make you sweat just walking around, and your horse could be suffering too. We at Tullochan Stables have put together a short list of some of the best and most important ways to keep your horse cool during hot weather.
Water is the most vital of elements to give your horse to keep them cool. They will stay hydrated and cool with plenty of fresh, clean drinking water. Change the water at regular intervals to make sure that they aren’t exposed to chaff, larvae, algae and other contaminants in the water.
Water also covers a multitude of other uses to keep your steed cool. For example, if you water and sponge down his legs you will note the larger vessels that stand out. Those vessels benefit greatly from having cool water sponged on them. Think about the idea that you put a cold flannel on your neck in the heat, this is the same principle. When you do sponge him down, though, make sure not to get it inside his ears.
Use a sweat scrape!
The other important fact about sponging down your horse – make sure that you scrape off all excess water. The idea is that the cool water makes contact with the warm horse and basic physics means that the cold water immediately heats up! If you don’t scrape the excess water off, it can cause your horse to overheat. Also, be careful of putting your horse out into the direct sunlight to ‘dry them off’, this has the same effect and the sun will heat the water on your horse causing them to heat up!
Schedules and Exercise…
Keep it early – that’s the golden rule. If you have to work and exercise your horse, make sure you keep it as early as possible so that they have not had time to heat up too much. Evenings are a great alternative if you can’t do mornings.
Don’t let your horse cool down too quickly after you exercise him. Keep it smooth and slow by loosening his girths, and then give him sips of water, making sure it is cool and not cold and definitely not icy because that can shock his system.
Feed and Care..
You can give your horse supplements in hot weather to prevent energy and vitamin loss. These supplements contain electrolytes that will keep your horses stamina high. Common salt is a good supplement, it aides rehydration but will not replace other essential nutrients lost through sweating. Another thing is to provide licks for him, which keep him hydrated and energised. You can also prevent your horse from getting sunburn and bites by using protection, such as fly sheets, sunscreen, and anti-bug sprays. His grooming pattern should be considered when you groom him in hot weather too. Friction causes heat!!
Stable during the day…
Another good thing to do is to keep your horse in during the day and letting them out in the field at night. It does two things. One it keeps them out of the heat of the day. And two it keeps them away from all those biting insects. It is not always what we favour here in the UK as we are used to stabling at night with our climate. But it is worth trying out. After all, it isn’t us who have to endure the heat and flies!
So be prepared…
We don’t get a lot of sunshine here in Scotland, but when we do it can become hot suddenly and our horses are not acclimatised to it. Therefore it can be a real stressor to them. The video below gives a detailed insight into how our horses are affected by heat and some more detail on how to manage this.