Summertime Horse Care
While summer is a wonderful time of year, it can be incredibly difficult for some horses. Horses experience discomfort in extreme heat just like humans do, and it’s important to take these drastic temperature changes into account when taking care of your animals during this season. There are many severe health complications that your horse can suffer from because of excessive heat, including dehydration and stress-induced diarrhea. Both of these illnesses can lead to your horse having colic, which is probably one of the most serious health conditions a horse can have. Here are a few steps you can take as a horse owner to alleviate the some of the stress that comes with this sunny season.
Alter turn out times
It’s not a good idea to take your horse out in the heat of the day. In the summertime, allocate your exercise time to the early mornings or late evenings, as temperatures are significantly cooler then. If at all possible, leave your horses out to pasture overnight as this provides ample grazing time.
Improve air circulation
If keeping your horse in a stable is completely unavoidable, make sure that there is more than enough fresh air moving around their living space. Leave the barn doors and windows open, securing them with the appropriate hardware so they don’t slam and spook the animals. A stable fan combined with a misting fan is a great investment as it provides plenty of air circulation and will cool your horse off.
Avoid using water buckets
Water buckets are fine for the cooler months of the year, but unless you are able to refresh the water constantly, they are impractical for the summer months. This is because is because bucket water grows stagnant and warm in the heat, which makes it completely unappetizing to your horse. No matter how thirsty they are, horses will not drink old water- which can lead to dehydration if bucket water is the only water they have. Consider investing in a horse triggered fresh water system if you live in a hotter climate.
Provide extra shade
Shelter from the elements is pretty imperative for horses during the summer time. A run-in shelter is perfect as it provides plenty of shade that doesn’t move, unlike the shade horses may get from trees. If you have more than one or two horses, make sure the older or less dominant members of the herd are not being pushed out into the sun.
Always have feed available
Grass is the best feed for your horse during warm temperatures as it has a significantly higher water content than hay or grain. Horses’ bodies are designed to eat constantly, and the energy that this consistent grazing provides allows the horse to regulate its body temperature and keep as cool as possible.
Keep up with summer grooming
Just like humans, some horses have thicker coats and manes than others. If your horse gets exercised regularly, clipping their coat can help cool them off more quickly after a ride and help keep them cool when they’re out in their pasture. Also, keep their mane and tail trimmed to reduce heat build up. If your horse has pink skin, there are shampoos on the market with added sunscreen to help protect against sunburn. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the all the exposed,delicate skin on the nose, ears, and around the eyes of your horse too.
If your horse is constantly swatting away flies, they will waste the precious energy they should otherwise be conserving to stay cool. Keep paddocks, stalls and run ins free of manure to remedy this problem. It also helps to install fly traps around the stable and paddocks. Fly masks will also go a long ways towards protecting your horse against flies. Fly sheets are dual purpose in that they protect your horse’s body from insects and from the sun. Rotate fly sprays to be the most effective at warding off gnats, mosquitoes, and flies.