As its so warm in the Netherlands at the moment I decided to research a bit regarding whats the best to do for Mr.Grumpy when its so hot. Severe heat can be really dangerous for horses and cause dehydration and colic at worst.
These are the 10 tips I came across:
1. Turn out when its cooler. Mr.Grey always comes out at least once a day, but in the summer I will turn him out earlier or later rather then in the middle of the day as its then cooler.
2. Shade. Make sure that if you turn out your horse that it has somewhere to hide from the sun. This way it can choose to go out of it if she/he wants to.
3. Airconditioning. In the Netherlands most barns I’ve come across do not have airconditioning or fans installed, however if it becomes really hot, make sure to keep all doors open for air circulation and setting up fans can be another option.
4. Shower or mist your horse. Mr.Grumpy now gets a shower after every time I ride him to cool him down a bit extra. However you can also decide to mist your horse with a spray if its really hot. This is also a good way to bond with your horse. Mr.Grumpy absolutely loves to be showered.
5. Water & Electrolytes. Make sure the horse always have access to fresh cool water. If you use buckets, make sure you change these several times a day. I am lucky enough that Mr.Grumpy has an electric water supply, so it is always fresh.
You can also decide to provide them with a bit of electrolytes, just make sure the horse have extra water if so.
6. Don’t work to hard. As with us humans, horses also become slower when they are exposed to intense heat. Make sure not to work them too hard, and if you do need to, make sure you rather do it in short sessions then longer ones. Try to lighten the work if you can. If you have the possibility to choose between outside, or inside, choose the one with the best air condition so the horse have the optimal situation to perform.
7. Un-tack your horse after riding. Don’t let your horse stay around for too long with its tack on if you are not planning on riding anymore. Untack the horse straight away and give it a cool shower.
8. Don’t forget sun lotion. Especially white/grey horses or horses with a lot of white can easily get sunburned. Make sure to put sun lotion on them before turning them out. Put it on all their white spots as well as blazes and pink noses. For white horses you can also use protective rugs. Don’t turn them out when the sun is at it strongest unless they’ve got shadow to hide in.
9. Clip the coat. If your horse have problems shedding their winter coat, it can help a lot to clip them. Just remember not to clip them too short as the sun-rays can then burn them easier depending on the color of their coat.
10. Heat stroke. Know your horse and signs of heat stroke. When its so hot outside, your horse can have a heat stroke because his/her body cannot handle the heat. It can happen both during exercising as well in the stall or on the trailer. Its really important to know the signs of a heat stroke:
- Elevated heart rate that doesn’t go back to normal after a reasonable periode of time.
- Horse is either sweating a lot or not at all.
- High temperature
- Slow, very tired and signs of lethargy
Obviously the best thing to do if you think your horse have a heat stroke is to call your veterinarian, but in the mean while you should take it to a cooler place or put cold wet towels on their neck and back, this can help them cool down.
Don’t forget to look after yourself as well. Summer breeches, airy tees, light stable shoes and head protection is the key. Don’t forget to drink loads of water too.