Keeping Your Horse Safe in Hot Weather

To ride or not to ride, that is the question.

Temperature alone is not a good guide when it comes to deciding if you should ride on a hot summer day. It is the combination of heat and humidity that should be your major concern. Your horse’s natural radiator is a combination of skin surface and sweat. As your horse’s body warms up, his sweat glands release sweat: a combination of water and minerals. As the water evaporates off the skin it cools the body down. When the relative humidity (a measurement of moisture in the air) is over 75%, the ability of your horse to cool himself by sweating is greatly diminished. This occurs because the air is so full of moisture your horse’s sweat can no longer properly evaporate and cause cooling. While high heat (85°F or higher) or high humidity (above 80%) alone is not a problem, the combination of high heat and high humidity should raise red flags. If the combination of the temperature and the humidity (temperature + humidity) is over 180, skip riding for that day and give your horse a cool bath instead.

When and where to ride during warm weather

You have checked the temperature and humidity and it is not in the danger zone, but it is still hot. There are choices you can make that will keep both you and your horse more comfortable during your ride.

  1. Feed an electrolyte daily during hot weather. It will stimulate your horse to drink and help keep him or her hydrated. Electrolytes also replace the essential minerals lost in sweat.
  2. Ride in the early morning or in the evening when the sun is not at its hottest.
  3. Ride in the shade, either in the woods or in an indoor arena, with good air circulation.
  4. Be aware of your horse’s fitness level.  Whether obese or thin, unfit horses are less able to deal with the stress of exercising in hot temperatures.
  5. Cool your horse down properly after your ride and be sure an abundant supply of cool, fresh water is always available.



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  • Helen

    Wish more people were aware how important fitness and acclimatization are for safely working in the heat. I see a lot of folks getting into trouble at summer events because they train early or late and then draw a 1pm ride time for competition.

  • Susan Scott

    Yes it has been a scorcher here in KY for the last few days! My girls and I have been waiting until nearly dark just to catch a few minutes of ride time. I would rather get up and ride early, but since it’s much harder to get 3 people and 3 horses up and going at the crack of dawn and still work a public job, I vote for late evening. My horses are all on 24 hr turn out with either a run in shed or barn to go into when they need shade. Wish I had some 30 yr old maple or oak trees in their fields, but sadly do not. So far my horses all seem to be dealing with the heat wave but I am keeping a close eye on them for any signs of heat stress. Thanks for all the information you pass along to us!!

  • Theresa Grant

    It has been hot here and I know when a horse isn’t drinking well or is working hard its good to give lytes….My mare has been drinking good….so I was not sure if I still needed to add the summer games to her diet….Well I went with yes 🙂 to help replenish the minerals she is losing in sweating…
    Thanks guys, these tips make it quick and easy for me to find info I need…keep up the good work

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