How To Keep Your Horse Safe In The Heat
With the UK temperature hotting up, horse owners need to be vigilant and prepared when it comes to keeping their horse happy, comfortable and safe. While horses are generally very efficient when it comes to regulating their temperature, they might need a helping hand from their owner every now and again!
If your horse isn’t used to hot weather, follow these top tips to ensure you’re not spending the entire summer hot and bothered! Here’s how to keep your horse cool during a heatwave.
If you’re going out to competitions or training clinics, you need to plan ahead to ensure your horse is as comfortable as he can be in the lorry or trailer. Have a look at our top tips for travelling your horse in the heat, and remember to travel at the coolest times of the day even if it means leaving home a little earlier.
If you’re heading out to something more intense such as a jump clinic or competition, you’ll need to be especially organised. It’s best to train your horse in hot weather if you’ll be competing in the heat in order to help them acclimatise. If you think your horse isn’t used to it and might struggle, consider postponing the event.
Provide Constant Access to Water
Just like humans, horses require a lot more water during hot summer days. They should have constant access to fresh water. An automatic water trough in the field is ideal as you won’t need to keep filling it up, although these can be tricky to install and don’t allow you to see how much your horse is drinking.
If you don’t have an automatic water trough, a standard water trough or large buckets will do the job. Keep these topped up and change the water regularly. If you are travelling your horse, remember to take ample water with you, and offer them a drink every couple of hours.
Provide Access to Shade
Your horse needs to have shade to shelter them from both the sun and the flies. If you have a mobile field shelter and more than one horse, ensure there’s enough room for all the horses to enter and exit safely.
If you don’t have a mobile field shelter or large trees that provide some shady spots, consider bringing your horse into his stable for the hottest parts of the day – providing the sun isn’t shining directly into it!
Keep Their Stable Cool
While roomy and shady stables usually stay cool quite easily, smaller wooden stables can get seriously hot. Keep your horse safe and comfortable by installing a fan or providing a misting machine. While these can be expensive, they’re invaluable when it comes to keeping your horse cool in his stable.
Reduce the Workload
While working your horse early in the morning or later in the evening is advised, sometimes this simply isn’t an option. If you must work your horse during the hottest time of the day, do it in short bursts so that they don’t overheat. Provide plenty of water after they have worked and cool them off properly with cold water.
Cool them Down
If you’ve done all you can to keep the stable or barn cool, but your horse is still sweating, you can cool them down yourself. This is easy, relaxing for the horse and can be done a few times a day.
Lower their core temperature by hosing your horse down with cold water, running it over their chest, neck and legs. The hose can be held in place over your horse for a few minutes to fully lower their temperature and keep them comfortable when they head back into their stable. Repeat as they start to hot up again!
Know the Signs of Heatstroke
Finally, know the signs of heatstroke. Keeping a horse cool in hot weather is easy once you know what you’re looking out for. If your horse appears lethargic, unwilling to drink or move, he may have heatstroke.
At this point, it’s imperative that you cool him down yourself, providing a shady spot for him to relax in and pouring cool water over him regularly. Contact your vet if he doesn’t perk up within a couple of hours.
With the right preparation, there’s no reason why you and your horse can’t enjoy the warmer weather. Providing your horse has access to cold, fresh water, a shady spot to snooze in and isn’t worked too hard, you should find they cope with the increased heat just fine!