There’s a rule in Canada, where winter often hangs on far too long: when the hot weather comes, you’re not allowed to complain.
Joking aside, managing horses in the heat can be stressful. Should they be in or out? How hot is too hot to ride? What can I do to help my horse deal with extreme heat?
Whether you keep your horses in or out depends on your individual situation. I live in a very sheltered area, which is great in the winter, but in the summer heat I don’t get as much of a breeze as many farms do. As a result when the temps get over 30C I typically bring my horses in out of the sun. Sometimes I question this, because I have a steel barn and it can get pretty hot in there, but the horses seem to handle it better than being stuck in the direct sun.
I have an industrial fan which I set up to keep the air moving, and this seems to help their comfort level. I will often also hose them off and scrape them before they go in their stalls. This seems to be the best practice for keeping things bearable for them. If someone breaks out sweating, I can always hose them off again.
Another important thing it to keep them well hydrated. When it’s extra hot out, I will up their salt intake. My horses get an ounce of salt twice a day under normal circumstances, so I will increase that by an ounce. I may also add electrolytes. I keep on top of their water intake, dumping and refilling bucketswith lukewarm water (which mine will ingest more of than cold water) to keep them drinking. I also soak my feed – everything to get as much water in them as possible.
Often I will give them an alcohol sponge bath. Because alcohol evaporates quickly, it helps them feel cool.
If I have a horse in work, I try to avoid the hottest hours of the day. And in some cases, unless I have a competition looming, I might skip a ride if the heat is especially extreme! I have a mare who does not handle the heat at all, and has had head stroke in the past, so I am very careful!
What do you do to keep your horses comfortable in the heat?