It’s summer, meaning you and your horse are in for lots of competitions and travel. It also means warmer temperatures and strong sunshine, putting your animal at risk of dehydration and heat stroke. These conditions can be devastating – possibly fatal – so prevention is of the utmost importance. Luckily, keeping a horse cool is relatively easy – just follow the six tips below:
1. Give unlimited access to clean, fresh water
We all know water is vital for preventing dehydration, but it’s easy to forget that horses can be picky drinkers. The slightest change in taste can keep your horse from drinking, risking serious health problems. Always have clean water available so your horse can hydrate to its heart’s content.
However, be sure to protect the water supply from bugs. Standing water is a mosquito’s favorite place to lay eggs, and these insects spread diseases like Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis. Horse Channel recommended emptying and refilling water tanks every three days.
2. Provide clean, shady areas
“Shade protects horses from the sun’s radiation.”
Shaded spots – under trees, in barns and other places – aren’t exactly cooler than sunny patches. They’re both the same temperature, but shade protects horses from the sun’s radiation. This means the skin doesn’t heat up, so the animal feels cooler. In addition, shade also protects against sunburn.
3. Supplement electrolytes
In terms of ratios, a horse’s sweat contains more electrolytes than a human’s. Per Equus Magazine, if you’re training during the summer and your horse sweats for at least an hour straight, offer electrolytes to keep it hydrated. Finish Line has a variety of product options, including Apple-A-Day and Orange-A-Day, two daily supplements, and Electrocharge, a fast-acting two-dose syringe.
4. Adjust turnout time
Horses need ample time outside to graze and stave off boredom, but the midday sun is too much for them. Adjust your turnout schedule so horses are outside during the mornings and evenings and inside during peak hours. The actual times vary slightly depending on where you live, but keeping your animal sheltered between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. is generally a safe bet.
5. Be smart about trailers
“Choose a horse trailer with a dark interior.”
If you haven’t bought a horse trailer yet, put some thought into it as you go shopping. Select one with a dark interior rather than white or silver, and look for large windows and ceiling roof vents for good airflow. These will all keep the trailer interior cool.
6. Build a better barn
Add fans to barns and stalls, positioning them so they draw hot air out rather than pull it in. Make sure your animal can’t reach the plugs, noted Veterinary Economics, and keep outlets and water far away from each other. Also, try installing a misting system or using a hand mister regularly.