Managing Horses in the Hot Weather

26th June 2018
We hope everyone is enjoying this glorious weather. Here is just a few things to think about when caring for horses whilst its hot!

 

Water

Make sure your horse always has access to plenty of fresh water. During the hot weather their intake will increase significantly.
When you are out competing make sure you take plenty of fresh water. If your horse doesn’t drink well when out consider adding apple juice to the water to increase their intake.

Turn out

Consider turning horses out at night and bringing in during the day to avoid the hottest temperatures and the flies. If your horse has to stay out make sure there is somewhere they can escape from the sun and flies, such as trees and field shelter. Ensure the stable has good ventilation and is free from dust as possible.

Suncream

White areas on the face and heels are most commonly affected by sunburn because they have less skin pigment and hair coverage, so remember to apply suncream to these areas. In areas where the skin is blistered or raw seek veterinary advice.

Managing flies

Horseflies and other biting insects can be a big problem. Fly rugs, masks and insect repellent are all useful. Lightweight, breathable, light coloured rugs are useful to reflect the heat.
Remove droppings from the paddock regularly and keep the muck heap a good distance away from the horse’s stable to help reduce fly problems.
Midges tend to breed in wet areas, such as lakes and streams, so if your horse is susceptible to sweet itch move him away from standing water.
To treat a one off fly bites, appy an ice pack or bathe with cool salt water.

Exercise

Try not to exercise your horse in the middle of the day when it’s at its hottest. The same applies when travelling – trailers and horseboxes can become extremely hot, particularly when standing in stationary traffic.
When competing in very hot conditions, allow a shorter warm up period and be prepared for your horse to tire more quickly.

Cooling

Use plenty of cold water to cool horses down after exercise. Excess water should be scraped off to prevent it from trapping heat on the horse’s body. Continue to walk horses for short periods until it has cooled down.
Managing heat stroke
Signs to look out for:
  • Heavy/rapid breathing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Lethargy/ restlessness
  • Dark urine/ reduce urination
  • Stumbling
  • Slow recovery after exercise
If your horse shows any of these signs, its important to use aggressive cooling methods to reduce your horses temperature. Call your vet as your horse may require intravenous fluids.