The heat of the summer is here, and we can’t stress enough how important it is to keep yourself and your equine companions safe during the long days of these hot months. Dehydration, heat exhaustion and even sunburn are problems shared by horse and handler alike. We love to provide tips for how to keep your horse healthy all year long, and here’s a few more to help you beat the heat and stop the scorch.
Limit Activity to Cooler Hours
Do as much as you can in the late evening or early morning hours. This includes grooming, cleaning of stable areas and even time spent training. Horses that are sweating from heat don’t benefit as much from exertion from training, and being pushed while dehydrated can lead to serious health issues. Exercise safely during scorch season by identifying the signs of overheating and heat stroke and limiting activity to avoid these potentially fatal problems.
Provide Ample Water and Water-Based Play Options
Spend at least some time during the heat of the day checking on horse water supplies and engaging in water-based play. Old jokes about horses not liking water polo aside, the more playful amongst your equine friends are sure to love tossing wet sponges, prancing in hoses or sprinklers and even swimming in pet pools. Water-based play options, especially those with ample protection from the glaring sun, can help supplement the opportunities for exercise lost by limiting regular activity and training. They can even help limit exposure to allergies, which have been known to cause further trouble by interrupting sleep habits.
Add More Shade and Fans to Gathering Areas
Shade is invaluable during the heat of the summer. Direct sun exposure dramatically ramps up body heat and can leave a horse down and unable to rise just from exhaustion and a desire to get cool. Add plenty of overhangs, temporary tarps (or more permanent installations in windy areas), and other sources of shade. Don’t forget that proper ventilation isn’t just for trailers, either. Replace fans in barn areas to help keep the heat out, and consider installing solar-powered fans if barns and similar gathering areas start to feel more like convection ovens and less like restful places.
Remember to always provide plenty of water and shade, and have fun with your equine friends in ways that can help keep them cool. Above all, learn to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and take action as soon as they appear. Following these few tips can help keep everyone under your care in the peak of condition as the scorch of summer sets in.
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