For horse owners, summertime is generally a very busy period, with a myriad of activities such as trail riding, horse shows, and rodeos. As you enjoy the long days, follow these tips to ensure that your summer riding season is safe and enjoyable.
Normally, horses require a minimum of five gallons of water daily to maintain hydration. However, this may double or triple when they spend a lot of time in hot weather. Carry water from home as you travel since some horses are finicky about drinking strange water or familiarize your horse with water that is flavored with some Gatorade or apple juice before traveling.
This will successfully disguise unfamiliar-tasting water while you travel. In case a horse is fatigued or very hot, provide a gallon of water after every quarter of an hour until it has had enough. Electrolytes may also help to stimulate water consumption and replenish loss caused by sweating.
Discuss the dose and frequency of electrolytes with your veterinarian, and always provide unlimited water after you give your horse electrolytes since it may aggravate dehydration.
Exhaustion from Heat
The body temperature of a horse that is exercising in hot and humid conditions can easily rise to high temperatures, especially if the sweat is not evaporating. Other factors that increase the risk of overheating include poor fitness, obesity, having a dark coat or being heavily muscled.
If the horse is overheated, get some shade if possible and continually douse him with generous amounts of cool water and then immediately remove it using a scraper. Repeat this until his body temperature falls to 101 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
A horse with a pink coloration around the eyes or muzzle will suffer from sunburn. For this, you can safely use a human sunscreen that does not have para-aminobenzoic acid on small sections of his body. Extended exposure to UV rays may make a horse that has pink skin around the eyes be susceptible to cancer. For such animals, you need to get a UV-blocking fly mask.
Safety When Trailering
Horses adjust their weight in accordance with trailer motion during travel. The energy they use is almost equivalent to walking, which means an eight-hour trailer ride constitutes as much work as a trail ride that lasts for eight hours. Do not expect your horse to reach your destination in fresh condition. Get there the night before or leave a few hours for recovery.
Also, bear in mind that trailering stresses a horse’s immune system resulting in 'shipping fever' or worse still, severe pneumonia. In case your horse develops a fever or a cough within several days of a long trailer ride, get in touch with your vet. In addition, you need to open all windows and vents (with suitable bars in place) during hot weather and avoid parking your trailer in the sun for long periods of time while the horses are inside.
A common feature of most horse events is a lot of stressed horses packed in tiny areas, sharing the same water. These are perfect conditions for the spread of diseases. Airborne pathogens like influenza viruses can move for over 100 feet and infect other horses. This means that avoiding nose-to-nose contact may not be sufficient to prevent infection.
Other diseases such as strangles can be transmitted by seemingly healthy carriers, normally through human hands, clothing, shared equipment or direct contact. Work with your vet to create a vaccination program for your horse. Most competitors going to show grounds are now required to show records of rhinopneumonitis and influenza vaccinations that should be administered every six months.
A Properly Stocked First Aid Kit
Keep a properly stocked first aid kit in your trailer and barn, along a smaller-sized kit to carry in your saddle bag during trail rides. Discuss with your vet about administering prescription anti-inflammatory drugs like flunixin meglumine or phenylbutazone, and their recommended dosage and frequency. Each spring, ensure that you replenish the supply after the drugs are used up or that have expired.
Appropriate Travel Documents
In many states, it is mandatory to have a current equine infectious anemia (Coggins) test and the requisite health certificates when crossing the border. A number of states require brand inspections, which you can arrange. We have now moved into the era of apps, electronic certificate forms and Coggins, some of which enable vets to capture horses’ photos instead of drawing their markings.
These digital forms can be saved in your inbox for convenient access. Even though health certificates with a thirty-day validity are needed when traveling through a number of states, a lot of regions now permit six-month passes when crossing to neighboring states.
Image credit: animalfriends.co.uk
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