The current heat wave is a godsend for most of us, but for your horses, excessively warm weather can be detrimental, leading to dehydration and even heat stroke if not managed well.
By following a few simple rules while the weather is hot, you can significantly reduce the risk of your horse suffering with problems due to the heat:
- PROVIDE PLENTY OF WATER – Having access to fresh, clean water is vital all year round, but as temperatures increase, horses lose more water from their bodies in the form of sweat to keep themselves cool. This means that they require more water to stay hydrated so make sure your horse has plenty available to them. Grass has a high water content, and feeding soaked feed or hay, will also contribute to their overall liquid intake.
- PROVIDE ELECTROLYTES DAILY – These vital body salts are essential in many bodily processes, and are particularly important for hydration, activating the thirst response in the horse, and for muscular health and performance. Contrary to popular belief, these should be fed daily, not just provided when competing, as it takes a long time to make up for any deficiencies or imbalances. Even horses that are not in work will sweat when the weather is very hot, and horses in hard work will lose up to 15L of sweat per hour. This sweat contains around 150g of electrolytes, hence the importance of daily supplementation. The best way to ensure that your horse is receiving all the electrolytes that they need is to add electrolytes such as Feedmark’s Replenish into their feed- but, if you haven’t already been feeding them, do this gradually.
- ENSURE ACCESS TO SHADE – If possible, turn out in fields with shelter from the sun, or if stables are cool bring horses in during the day, to avoid the hottest midday sun.
- RIDE WHEN IT’S COOLER – Either don’t exercise your horse during periods of extreme heat, or avoid riding during the hottest part of the day; instead aim for early morning or evening exercise when it’s cooler. If you have to work your horse when it is hot, keep to low intensity exercise, and cool your horse down slowly after you finish working them.
- WASH DOWN: Washing your horse off after riding is particularly important in the summer when they are likely to sweat more – cold water, and the evaporation of it from the coat helps the horse to cool down, and washing also removes dried sweat, which if left on the horse would attract flies. If your horse is overheating then continuously cover the whole body with cold water and get expert advice.
- APPLY SUNCREAM! If your horse has any delicate pink bits of skin, applying sun cream to these areas will stop the skin burning.