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Horse Hot Weather Care Tips



Did you know that horses can produce sweat 3 times faster than humans can?


Whilst this is great for cooling, it does mean that horses can quickly dehydrate in warmer weather and lose vital electrolytes.


Out of all of the electrolytes, sodium (plain salt) is the one that your horse is likely to become most deficient in as it is not found in high quantities in forage whereas potassium is.


Most horse owners will provide their horses with a salt lick, however, studies have shown that horses rarely consume enough to fulfil their daily ration.

Your average 16-hand horse in light to medium work requires 1.5 tablespoons of salt per day added to their feed (table salt will do)

On occasions where your horse has been in heavy work (such as a one-day event) or in extreme heat, electrolyte supplements may be added to the feed, however for day-to-day use, plain table salt is far more cost-effective.


Obviously, water consumption is also important in the heat. If your horse is fussy and will not take water whilst out competing or when especially hot, a handful of un-mollassed sugar beet or fast fibre in a bucket of water will do wonders.


 

When it comes to exercising horses in the summer months, they may become tired more quickly. Larger, heavier breeds and horses that are overweight are more at risk of heat exhaustion.


Signs to look out for:

· Prolonged heavy breathing

· Panting

· Lethargic, head down and unsteady on their feet

· Decreased appetite

· Dark urine

· Nostril flaring

· Hot to the touch

· Colic signs


If you are concerned that your horse may have heat stroke, contact your vet immediately for advice. Heat stroke can lead to collapse.


In milder cases, bring your horse into the shade if possible and remove fly rugs, masks and/ or tack. Use a hose to cool your horse off, it is best to keep the water continuously flowing over them, do not bother scraping the water off. If you do not have a hose, try to keep throwing buckets of water over the neck and back.


 

To avoid heat stroke, where possible avoid exercising your horse in the hottest part of the day and avoid high-intensity exercise, Opt for a slow and quite happy hack or switch to a long-reining or groundwork session instead.


A few days off will not hurt them, in extreme heat, avoid exercise. Why not use the opportunity to tune your horse up and book a physio session instead?





If your fields do not have much shelter from the sun (natural or man-made) and/or are full of flies, it may be better to bring your horse into the stable.


Do consider how hot your stable may get in the middle of the day. Wooden stables with metal roofs tend to become extremely hot and your horse may be better outside.





Fly rug or naked?

There are some fantastic fly rugs on the market that are extremely breathable and lightweight. Opinions differ on whether to take fly rugs off in hot weather however personally, I leave mine on unless it is especially hot when I then bring him into a stable in the cool.

Several reasons for this, the lighter coloured rugs help to reflect some of the heat and may help darker coloured horses in the sun, and secondly, my horse HATES flies and tends to run around to avoid them making himself hotter!


Sunburn

Horses with pink skin are prone to sunburn especially on their noses. Use a sensitive suncream with a high factor protection (I recommend Nivea’s kid's sensitive range 50+ plus) on noses and the back of heals if they are exposed. If you have summer clipped your horse, make sure you cover them with a fly rug to offer some UV protection


Fly masks do more than just keep out the flies! They offer some UV protection to the eyes (like sunglasses) to prevent conditions affecting the eye.


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