In many areas of our country we are finally seeing the summer time temperatures. Depending on where you live it can be dry heat or wet heat. Both can cause major problems for horses.
What do you do for your horse when the temperatures soar? Well I thought I'd share a few tips mostly for those who board or stall your horses.
First of all if you board your horse somewhere ask the owner/manager if they will install misting fans. Maybe the horse owners could buy the misting fans and have the owner install them. Misting fans allow cool air to circulate without soaking the horse. The cooler air is much easier to breath and it allows a horses body to remain cooler therefore exerting less energy to sweating to stay cool.
Offer your horse ice water twice a day. Like your horse, you wouldn't want to drink 90* water. By adding ice to their water it cools it down and your horse will more than likely drink more of it. Keeping your horse hydrated is very important. You can also add some gatorade powder to their water which gives them electryolytes. This helps to replace what's been lost through sweating and it helps keep them hydrated better.
If your horse is in open pasture, do they have adequate trees or shelter out of the direct sun? Shelter is imperative. Horses like people can get heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Giving them ample shade will help prevent this.
If you are an "extreme" horse owner you might have a heating/cooling system installed in your barn. Radiant floor heating for winter time and cooling tubes for summer. These systems can be costly, but for those who have the money it may be well worth it.
If you have ample shelter/shade and you find your horse is breathing hard or heavily, grab the hose and begin hosing your horse off starting with the legs. Hose them with cool water for 5 minutes, then hose the chest and belly for 10 minutes. Try not to get excited and hose your entire horse. Hosing the entire horse when you're not giving them a bath can actually cause more problems. After you have hosed the legs, chest and belly for 15 minutes if your horse is still breathing heavily, you should call your vet. If you have to place a call to your vet, continue to hose your horses legs, chest and belly until the vet arrives. This will aid in bringing the horse's core temperature down.
The reason I say not to hose down your entire horse when it's extremely hot is because of 2 major reasons. First hosing the whole horse can cause muscle cramps and colic. Secondly it causes the horse's body to work harder to cool down, and that means more sweating.
If at all possible take your horse swimming. They will love it, they will cool down and you'll have a lot of fun too. My sister and I use to take our horse's swimming every day. It's also good exercise for you both also.
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