Keep your horse safe and healthy in the heat

Summer is a great time for riding your horse but don’t forget to watch out for their health and safety in the heat. Here are ways you can help them...

Summer is a great time to enjoy riding your horse. However, it pays to be mindful of their health and safety during the hotter temperatures.

Summer is the perfect opportunity to spend time with your horse. Whether your riding is just a hobby and you’re taking the extra time to go on longer treks, or you’re participating in the show circuit, no doubt if your friends or family can’t find you at home, you’ll be with your horse.

But, while summer provides warm riding-friendly weather, it can also become too hot at the peak, which can pose dangers for your horse. Here are six ways you can keep them safe and healthy in the summer heat.

1. Provide access to clean fresh water

During the summer months, horses can drink up to 100l of water per day, so it’s critical they have access to clean, fresh water throughout the day. If they’re doing a lot of work and sweating consistently, it’s also important to make sure they’ve got access to a salt block to make sure their electrolytes stay balanced – a bit like how athletes consume sports drinks to keep them hydrated when training or competing hard.

2. Make sure there’s shelter

Horses are well conditioned to spend time outdoors, but it’s still important they have access to shelter. During the hot summer months this means somewhere that provides shade from the summer sun. If you have a stable you can keep cool, it may be better to keep your horse inside during the hottest part of the day. You can even use fans and misting equipment to keep a stable cool, or at a minimum make it open to a natural breeze.

3. Don’t forget the sunscreen

If you have a horse with pink skin and light-coloured hair on its muzzle it’s also worth covering these in zinc or special sunscreen to prevent sunburn. You can also buy nose and ear guards that attach to a halter that can help prevent sunscreen, so use what suits you and your horse best.

4. Keep an eye on their hooves

During the winter it’s important to keep an eye on your horse’s hooves to make sure they don’t get damaged during wet weather. And, during summer, you should keep an eye on your horse's hooves to make sure they’re not getting too dry and risking splitting. Horse’s hooves also tend to grow faster during the summer, so they may need more frequent visits from the farrier.

5. Exercise responsibly

Horses sweat, but they can still overheat if exercised too much during the hotter hours of the day. Instead of exercising in the middle of the day, you may find mornings or evenings more suitable for keeping them in optimum condition without the risk of overheating – and you will likely enjoy the environment better too! When it’s warmer out, it’s also important your cool your horse down sufficiently and wash off any sweat before you let them back out into their paddock.

6. Keep an eye out for unusual behaviour

Horses can suffer from heat stroke so, if you notice excessive sweating (or a lack of sweating), lethargy, a persistent high temperature, elevated heart rate, or dehydration, it’s important to cool your horse down quickly and call in professional help from your vet.