10 ways to help your horse in hot weather
- Offer some shade in the field.
Wherever possible, ensure that your horse can get out of direct sunlight in the field. This might be a posh (or not!) field shelter, or using paddocks with decent hedges or trees.
- Provide a constant, clean supply of water
Horses will inevitably drink more during hot weather, so always make sure that you keep field water buckets or troughs clean and topped up.
- Twice daily checks
It sounds obvious, but it’s really important to check your horses morning and evening; things can change incredibly quickly and it’s important to ensure your horse is comfortable & coping with the heat
- Fly spray
Really useful for horses who suffer with flies, but most products will need repeat applications. If you make your own, then always do a ‘patch test’ to make sure that your horse does not have an adverse reaction
- Fly rugs
Perfect for keeping nasty horse flies off your horse, however you will have to balance this against the potential heating effect of using a rug. Horses can still sweat in fly rugs, and it’s really important to check that the horse is comfortable. Always check and readjust the rug morning and/or evening
- Keep the horse stabled during the day
If you’re lucky enough to have stables which have good ventilation, it’s sometimes more comfortable for the horse to be in during the heat of the day, and out in the field overnight.
- Wash your horse off
As much as we appreciate a cold shower after a hot day, horses can also benefit from being washed off with cold water. Ideally you would use a hose pipe to cool your horse all over, but if this isn’t possible, using many buckets of water and a sponge can be equally effective. Current research scientists state that it is not necessary to scrape water off the horse to cool him; rather repeated sloshing with cold water is far more effective at helping the horse to maintain a normal body temperature.
- Plan when ride
Pick the coolest parts of the day to ride; early morning or late evening are ideal.
- Electrolytes in the feed
These are only really effective when fed over a period of a few weeks, however horses with free access to a salt lick will often use it more during hot periods
- Take your horse’s temperature
Get into the habit of taking your horse’s rectal temperature. Thermometers are relatively cheap and easy to use. By monitoring your horse’s temperature in this way, you will be able to identify potentially serious changes quickly, and put a treatment plan together effectively.