Keeping your horse cool, safe, and healthy this summer
We've covered some great tips to keeping yourself sunburn, bug bite, and heat stroke free this summer, so now we will move on to ways to do the same for your horse! It's common misconseption that summer heat problems only effect horses in work, and I want to clear that up first and foremost!
1. Sun Protection: Protecting our horses is just as important as protecting ourselves from harmful UV Rays. Whether you are saving your horses coat from bleaching out, or pretoecting the super sensitive pink skin around eyes and noses, there are a lot of ways you can do it.
- UV Shades and fly masks: There are many fly mask companies now adays that offer UV Protection in their fly masks. Even if your horse doesnt have pink skin on its face, it's a good idea to protect their eyes.
- UV fly sheets: As with masks, a lot of the sheet companies have come out with UV Protective sheets as well.
- Shade/Stalls: Make sure your horse has a lot of options to get out of the sun. Trees and run in sheds outside must be available. If you dont have that option, your next best bet is keeping them in a stall. I am all for turnout 24/7, but it's not fair if your horse cant get out of the heat or the sun.
- Sun Screens: Especially for the pink skin horses, sun screen is a great way of protecting them. There are several companies that have come out with horse-only sun screen, but you may also use people sunscreen too!
2. Hydration! Water is the single most important thing horses need when it's hot out. Always make sure your horse has plenty of clean, fresh water infront of him. If your horse isnt drinking enough, or you are going to a show or event where the water is strange, add some apple juice or gatorade. Some other tips:
- Add electrolyte powder to your horses grain every day to help replenish the nutrients lost while sweating.
- Soak your horses grain. There are many benefits to soaking a horses grain, but just one of them helps ensure your horses is taking in at least some water every day.
-Keep a tube of electrolytes on hand at all times. You never know when you may need it.
3. Bathing: Whenever you bathe your horse, it is important to start at their feet and legs, then work your way up. This gives them a chance to get use to the water temp. It is also important to let your horse dry off in the shed. The water on your horse heats up faster in the sunshine than their skin does, so hosing them down and turning them out can actually make them hotter than they originially were.
4. Keep summer work simple, and work at appropriate hours. As we talked about in part one, its not comfortable for us to ride when its 105, imagine what it's like for our horses. If you must ride during the hot parts of the day, keep your rides short and to the point.
5. Stall bound horses: though your horses may be out of the sun, depending on the barn set up, they may be hotter in a barn than outside. Keeping barn doors open, and stall windows open will provide a cool breeze, even when the wind isnt blowing. Also, hanging box fans in each stall is a great, refreshing way for your horse to beat the heat.
Have any tips of your own? Feel free to post them in the comment box! Happy trails!
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