Summer is a great time to ride, but scorching heat brings a lot of threats to horse health and well-being. When the temperature soars, a horse owner has to take extra care to make sure that the horses are happy and comfortable. Horses who remain indoors are already provided with shade. However, horses that live outdoors 24/7 need to get out of the direct sun and into the shade. Shade and shelters let the horse beat the heat and the powerful rays of the sun. So, make sure your pasture offer several shade options. However, your horse shelter requirements depend on his health and body condition, the climate and your preferred management style.
Here are some ideas that you can use to protect your horse from powerful rays of the sun:
1. Terrain and Vegetation:
A lovely big tree can give your horse a welcome respite from heat and insects. They not only screen the horses from incoming solar radiation but also creates a breezy and cool surrounding. After grazing for a long time, horses usually seek shade where they can relax and maintain their body temperature. However, a single tree may be unable to prevent your horse from the harsh climate. So, you can plant a row of trees that can reduce the radiant heat off the ground and leave your horse feeling comfortably cooler on hot days. But be careful of what you plant as some trees can be harmful to horses, like the wild cherry. Instead, plant birch, lime, poplar, and willow that are safe and great shelters for horses. But these plantations require protection from horses as they may try and pull off the branches for their own amusement. So, make sure that fences should be at least 2 meters away from newly planted trees.
2. Open-sided shade structure:
If you lack natural shade and shelter, then you need to build an artificial shade structure for your horse. An open-sided shade structure consists four wooden posts with a roof, canvas or shade cloth strung between them. Such shade structures are best used in hotter climates, where winter weather is less of a concern. These open-sided shelters provide shade and protection from sun, maximal airflow and a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Make sure that roof height is high enough so that the horse does not injure its head when held at its highest level.
3. Run-in sheds:
Run-in sheds are three-sided structures with a roof and open on one side. The shed provides shade to pastured horses from intense heat while allowing them to enter and exit the shed at their own will. So, the horses can freely graze, exercise and socialize with their buddies out in the pasture and still can retreat when the outside temperature rises. But for run-in sheds to provide maximum safety and protection, it’s critical that they are constructed and sited properly.
Place the run-in sheds in an open area that offers good drainage and provides shelter against hot summer blasts. For a field with lots of horses, make sure the sheds are adequately wide to accommodate all the horses safely. However, several small run-in sheds are a better plan than a large one. Moreover, during summer, sheds should have proper ventilation. Due to the sun shining directly onto the roof, sheds tend to heat up, making the sheds uncomfortably hot for horses. To improve the ventilation, owners can create an open window space, openings or vents below the eaves.
With such field shelters, your equestrian activities will not come to a halt. Instead, it will create an environment where your horse can enjoy turnout without being harmed by the scorching heat. So, as a horse owner or rider, you should plant shade-giving trees in your pasture or build sturdy shelters to give your horse temporary relief from sun, flies and biting insects.