Helping Horses Cope in the Heat
To help your horse cope in this lovely long heatwave, read on.
It’s a heatwave!
Horses cope better than us in the heat mostly due to their supreme ability to sweat and keep their body temperature regulated. Overheating, however, is possible and especially during exercise, particularly if they are not fully hydrated. On top of the heat, the dustiness of dry ground and high pollen counts can affect them negatively too.
When the weather gets hot and sticky there are a number of considerations:
Good hydration is essential not only for health and performance but to help the horse cope with the heat:
- Offer clean fresh water at all times, cleaning out field troughs regularly and refilling stable buckets daily
- Add electrolyte salts to the feed daily (follow manufacturer’s instructions) e.g. Equestrizone Daily Electrolytes
- Offer an oral rehydration solution (ORS) after exercise to help rehydration (45 g electrolyte salts in 5 litres of water)
Think ahead and adjust your horse’s exercise regime according to the heat:
- Consider reducing duration and/or intensity of exercise sessions in extreme heat
- Ensure the horse is fit enough for what you ask, which is essential for coping with the heat (fun or sponsored rides can involve over-exertion)
- Ensure good hydration prior to exercise and especially competition
- Use cold water to cool after exercise
- Consider exercising early or late i.e. not between 11am and 4pm but only if not competing – you need to acclimatise your horse by exercising when they are asked to compete if that applies
- Protect joints on hard ground with a joint supplement e.g. Equestrizone Fleximover
Turnout and management
Consider altering your regime to help your horse cope with a heatwave:
- Stable during the day and turnout overnight
- Ideally ensure some shade in the pasture, e.g. a run in shelter
- Clip the horse if they have a thick haircoat e.g. natives, cobs and those with PPID
- Use white fly rugs because they absorb less heat than dark colours
- Use fly masks to protect the eyes from fly bother and consider those with nose covers if your horse is sensitive to dust and pollen
For horses who struggle with the dust and pollen associated with a long hot dry spell, consider the following:
- Turnout at night
- Soak all hay (stable and in the pasture) for at least 15 minutes submerged
- Use specialist fly masks with net nose covers
- Use specialist cream around the nostrils to help trap pollen
- Feed garlic to support respiratory health e.g. Equestrizone Garlic Granules or Solution, or Equestrizone Apple Cider Vinegar and Garlic
- For horses with chronic nasal drip, a virus or an infectious respiratory problem, feed a herb for immune support e.g. Equestrizone Echinacea
Enjoy the heatwave by thinking ahead of how to keep your horse comfortable, and don’t forget yourself too!