How to beat the heat for you and your horse this summer. The heat can not only be uncomfortable, but can actually be dangerous. We need to be aware of risks and make adjustments accordingly. Here are some great tips to help you not only spend enjoyable time with your horse during the hot months of the year, but make sure your horse is healthy and comfortable.
How to Beat the Heat With Your Horse
Shelter from the heat is not only important, but vital for your horses. This can be in the form of a shade tree, barn, or any kind of construction that provides cover from the sun.
Creating airflow through your barn can really help your horses stay comfortable in high temperatures. Box fans added to your barn can help keep your equines much more comfortable. You can hang them up out of reach and safely add a way to keep the barn cooler. Or create a breezeway in your barn by having two sides open. This will increase air flow and make your barn a much more comfortable place to be.
Lots of Fresh Water
Check your horse’s water daily to make sure they don’t run out. Horses drink a lot of water when they are hot and it’s important to keep their stock tank clean with fresh water. Using a smaller tank such as a 50 gallon that you fill up every few days is best to ensure freshness. As well as keeping it out of direct sunlight. The sunlight and heat causes algae to accumulate on the sides.
Serve Up Some Chilled Snacks
Chilled carrots, apples, or watermelon are great snacks to feed your horse. It’s a great way to spend time with them as well. These wet and cold foods can be really satisfying for horse and human. Even homemade popsicles are a wonderful treat for you or your horse. Check out this recipe for DIY Horse Popsicles.
Adjust Turn Out Time
If you have certain times you turn your horse’s out to graze, you could consider adjusting that time to ensure they aren’t grazing during the hottest times of the day. Or consider splitting their times up. Find what works for your schedule to help them not be in the direct sun for too long.
This can be a great way to play with your horse and cool off at the same time. Always start at their legs before applying cold water directly on their back. Work your way up so they get used to the temperature of the water. Once that’s done, have fun spraying them down. Just be sure to scrape excess water off of them. This step is very important because the excess water can actually trap heat in and make them hotter.
Go for a Swim
This is such a fun way to spend time with your horse. If you have a creek or body of water that is near your barn or house to ride to, then I recommend doing this. Even if you don’t fully go swimming, many horses love splashing and blowing bubbles in water. I used to ride my horse in my bathing suit to the nearby creek in the summer months with only a bareback pad. Those are some of my favorite memories.
Early Morning Rides
“We ride at dawn,” is not just a saying, but something to live by in the hottest months of the summer. If you truly want to get some time in the saddle, then those early morning hours are the coolest times to ride. Times to avoid riding is when the sun is the highest. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, they consider 12 noon to 3 pm the hottest parts of the day.
Cool Off after Rides
If you decide to still ride in the summer months, then cooling your horse off is really important. A proper cool off includes completely un-tacking, walking them in hand for 10-15 minutes, a hose off starting with their legs and moving up, and finally be sure to use a sweat scraper to remove excess water.
Lowering your their work load or changing up their routine can help your horse cope with the heat much better. You can do other activities with your horse other than riding, such as trick training, liberty work, or expanding your groundwork. There are many fun ways to spend time with your horse other than riding. You can check out this post about non-riding activities.
Adding electrolytes to your horse’s diet is easy and can be really beneficial if they are prone to sweat a lot. There are various forms, but for a more routine electrolyte, I use the powder or pellets, which you can add directly to their feed. If you are trailering frequently to shows or even rodeos this time of year, it can be beneficial.
Sodium is an electrolyte as well, which they lose a lot of when sweating. Providing access to salt is really important for horses’ vital mineral intake. As well as increasing their thirst, which in turn will encourage them to drink more water. There are various forms of salt, but I usually keep Redmond’s rock salt available 24/7.
Let them Take Their Dust Baths
Horses love to roll after they get wet or sweaty. This can make a really nasty muddy horse which most horse owners don’t like, but the dirt and dust actually helps protect them. It helps fend off biting insects and protects them from the sun. They instinctually know that rolling is good for them, so let them take those dust baths!
Hope you are able to beat the heat with your horse this summer and make some sweet memories.
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