Summer is a great time to ride, but summer heat can be dangerous for horses, resulting in dehydration, lethargy, and general malaise. Severe heat stress can even cause diarrhea and colic. If you’re not sure where to start on keeping your horse happy in the heat, here are a few ideas to help make our ponies more comfortable.
1. Insect control
Insects can be a real problem in the summer especially with the combination of heat, sweat and manure to attract them. To keep the flies from bothering your horse, remove manure regularly from the pasture and stable. Also consider using a fly mask and or fly rug but it’s important to make sure the one you choose is a good fit to prevent irritation and sores. Fly spray is also a good deterrent as it’s easy to apply in awkward places. Another consideration is don’t leave your horse outside at dawn and dusk when it is open to attack from biting insects.
2. Adjust your riding schedule
It’s best to keep your horse out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day. This may mean adjusting your riding schedule to the cooler parts of the day, whether in the early morning (before 10 am) or late evening.
3. Protect your horse from sunburn
Just like us, horses too can suffer from sunburn on long sunny summer days. To avoid sunburn employ similar methods as we would to avoid it. Ensure your horses have enough shade if they’re out in the field (for example under some trees). If your horse has a pink nose, hairless patches or white markings, it is particularly important to protect them. Apply sun-cream to areas of exposed skin such as noses and hairless patches every day (aim for factor 50 for maximum protection.) Additionally, a fly rug or UVB-protection fly mask might help them in the field, although this won’t be necessary in the stable. Signs of sunburn include peeling skin or red patches; treat these with an antiseptic cream such as Sudocrem as soon as you can to stop them getting worse or becoming infected. Ask your vet for more details.
4. The importance of water
Make sure your horse stays hydrated throughout the summer. Keep several water sources available and refill the water buckets or troughs with fresh, clean water every day. Troughs may be more likely to harbour algae or the water turn stagnant when it is warm, so cleaning it out at least once a week is also important. Adding a little apple juice to water is always a helpful way of enticing those that aren’t so keen to remain hydrated to drink more. Another way to encourage your horse to keep hydrated is to make sure feeds are mixed with plenty of water. In addition if your horse will eat soaked hay then this could be a great way to up his water intake. If you are travelling or competing your horse, take plenty of clean fresh water from the yard with you, as well as a familiar drinking bucket. Some horses dislike drinking from different water and may refuse it.
5. Provide plenty of shade and cooling methods
Shade is an absolute necessity during the summer. A shaded area such as a tall tree can offer a temperature drop of at least 10 degrees and give your horse a rest from the hot summer sun. If you don’t already have lots of shaded areas for your horse, you may want to build something like a shed, or move your horse into a stable during the hottest part of the day. You can also have cool air running through your horse’s stable from a circulating fan. Some aren’t lucky enough to have a misting system so after riding be sure to cool your horse down with a gentle hose or sponge down. Cool water is best to get your horse’s temperature down after exercise.
Salt licks and electrolytes are a great addition to your horse’s regular diet, especially in the summer. Both will help to replace minerals and electrolytes lost while sweating, and they also encourage increased water consumption. Place a salt lick in a holder near feed and water, add electrolytes to one of the horse’s water supplies, and your horse will be one happy camper!
Keep your horse happy in Summer with TC Feeds & Tack Haven
To keep your horse healthy and happy this summer, stop into visit us! We have everything you need for healthy happy horses, including a variety of feed, salt blocks and electrolytes, misters and fans, and much more. Visit our shop today!