Keeping Horses Cool in Summer
Hey everyone. Hope you’re staying cool in this hot weather, which for me means I’m either riding at 5:30 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
When the weather is hot like this, there are special precautions we can take as owners to make sure our horses don’t overheat. One is just like I mentioned: ride in the cooler times of the day. Some try to argue that you need to ride them in the heat of the day to get them acclimated in case you have a horse show and don’t have those early times. To an extent this may be true, but be smart about it. When we are at a show, our dressage tests only last 5 to 6 minutes. Same with cross-country (if you’re doing prelim or below), and stadium is even shorter, so when it is super-hot outside, they won’t need as much warm-up as when it is 75° or below.
If for some reason your horse does require more, ride them for short rides multiple times before your show time. Same at home if you have to ride during the hottest hours of the day: ride in shorter spurts with longer breaks. Don’t drill them for 30 minutes straight with barely a walk break. Maybe work them 10 minutes, take a break, and then work them again for another 10. As far as conditioning work goes, I always try for cooler parts of the day. With Hoosier having sensitive lungs I do my conditioning work super early or super late.
When it is unruly hot out, make sure you take proper precautions to cool them down. Don’t just hose them off. Hose, sweat scrape, and repeat until your horse’s body temperature cools. Why sweat-scrape them off so much in between? Every time you hose a horse off, that water gets as hot as their core temperature, so it’s important to get the hot water scraped off and put more cool water on and then repeat the process.
Here are some other precautions:
- Make sure your horse has plenty of cool water at all times.
- Make sure there is some kind of shade provided, even if it’s a bunch of trees in a field (if you’re able to, keep them in during the hottest hours with fans)
- Clip your horses that have longer coats (but if they are out all day be careful they don’t sunburn because you also take away some of their protection from flies).
- And finally, feed your horses some electrolytes; your horse loses a lot of electrolytes and trace minerals when he sweats, so the electrolytes help keep his body in balance. Electrolytes keep your horse hydrated so they can perform and recover after exercise. KPP’s Summer Games is awesome! It was developed for the horses competing in the 1996 Olympics and replaces electrolytes at the proper levels without sugar or fillers.
So until next time, safe rides and keep cool!