Just like humans, horses aren’t immune to the summer heat and humidity; it affects horses in much the same way that it affects humans. Even inactivity can bring on a heat stroke in extreme heat, whether outside or in. Know the signs of a heat stroke: a consistent temperature above 103 degrees and elevated heart rate, lethargy, signs of dehydration and excessive sweating or no sweating. If you notice some or all of these symptoms, it’s time to call the vet. Ideally, you can keep your horse safe by taking these proactive steps:
Provide All-Day Shade
Make sure that your horse has a few shady areas where he can get out of the sun at any time during the day. Since the sun moves throughout the day, multiple escapes are necessary. The best option is a run-in shed.
Provide Plenty of Water
Providing plenty of fresh, cool water is one of the most important things you can do for your horse, especially during the warmer months. Depending on the amount of space that he has to roam around in, you may want to put a few buckets of water out in different areas so that at least one will remain cooler and fresher from being out of direct sunlight. Stagnant water can be unhealthy. If your horse seems to be sweating more than he should, you may want to consult your vet about adding electrolytes to some of his water.
Circulate the Air
No matter what kind of climate you live in, a fan will probably be needed at times to circulate the air and avoid stall stuffiness. Make sure that all electrical cords and plugs are out of your horse’s way for his safety. You can often find discount horse supplies to accommodate equine cooling needs while being friendly to your wallet.
Practice Smart Turnout Times
You may have to switch up turnout times during the summer months. Allowing your horse out of his stall during cooler times will make overheating a lot less risky. Ideally, he can stay out overnight — a horse with room to run is a happy horse — but a very early morning turnout time is recommended if this isn’t possible.
When riding your horse in the warmer weather — particularly in high humidity — practice shorter and less intense sessions. Sponge off or spritz your horse with cool water and make sure he’s drinking enough.
The key to keeping your horse healthy is staying ahead of the game. Educate yourself on his needs and make sure that you’re ready for summer before its arrival. You’ll enjoy spending time with your happy and healthy horse.