Keep Your Horses Cool in the Heat

Now Splash loves to just stick her face right into the sprinkler.

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Summer’s hot weather and high humidity pose serious health risks for most horses and ponies. However, there are simple ways to help keep your horse cool and healthy.

SHELTER FROM THE SUN

Searing heat and sweltering humidity can be dangerous for horses. Every year, numerous cases of colic, dehydration, and respiratory distress are attributed to warmer summer weather. Worse, potentially fatal heatstroke or exhaustion causes a few deaths each summer. Thankfully, however, responsible horse care and vigilance when the temperatures rise are all most horses need to cruise through summer in comfort. To help your horse beat the heat, keep the following tips in mind:

Water – use a suitable water bucket to frequently offer fresh, cool, clean water. Average size workhorses can consume over 25 gallons of water per day when the temperature is above 70°F. Also, keep water troughs and stock tanks clean and free from insects to promote consumption.

Shade – offer an escape from the sun while in the pasture with a run-in shed. In addition, turnout your horse as early as possible in the morning to help avoid the heat. To combat early morning mosquitoes and flies, use suitable repellents, fly masks, and sheets.

Electrolytes – replenish salt loss during excessive sweating with a suitable electrolyte supplement, especially with work horses or when the combined temperature and humidity exceeds 140°F. Serious electrolyte loss causes fatigue, muscle cramps, colic, and more.

Ventilation – cool your horse while he rests in the barn with appropriate stable fans. If possible, leave barn doors and windows open and install misting fans near each stall. Choose a run-in shed with an open-end design to promote airflow.

Baths – sponge cold water over your horse, especially down the large blood vessels under the belly and neck and inside the legs. In extreme heat, spray a 50/50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and cold water over his body to aid sweating.

Fodder – feed quality hay, especially as warm weather slows grass growth and pasture quality declines. Hay offers energy, which your horse needs to help regulate his body temperature and power his natural cooling processes.

Coat Care – clip your horse’s coat and keep his mane and tail trimmed. Apply a zinc oxide sunscreen to pink noses to help prevent sunburn. Use shampoos with added sunscreen to help protect against UV rays and sunburns.

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