As the heat of summer continues on, we often worry about our horses. How can we keep them cool and comfortable, especially during the hottest days of the year?
Here are a few tips for helping your horse deal with the heat:
If your horse’s turnout includes the daylight hours, it is important to provide shade in their paddock or pasture. Trees and run-in sheds will reduce the amount of direct sunlight your horse is exposed to and in turn the amount of sweat produced. Shade will also protect the pink skin on so many of our horse’s faces from sunburn. Avoiding turnout in direct sunlight or exercise during the hottest hours of the day (11AM – 3PM) will be the most beneficial to your horse.
Whether your horse is on rotating turnout schedules, spends most of its time inside, or is on 24-hour turnout, it is always important to provide a fresh, clean water source. Sweating increases your horse’s water loss, and during the summer the average horse may drink up to 20 gallons a day to stay hydrated. Electrolytes are ions that are essential to your horse’s cellular function, and are also lost in a horse’s sweat. Supplementing your horse with electrolytes on hot days, particularly on days when they are being worked, will help them stay healthy and comfortable. To do this, you can add powdered electrolytes to feed or one water bucket each day, or administer electrolyte paste by mouth. Either of these can be purchased at your local feed store.
When your horse is in it’s stall, fans are an excellent way to keep airflow on them. However, it is important to supervise the barn while fans are on and to unplug them when not in use, as fans are the most common cause of barn fires. To keep your fans as safe as possible, regularly clean around outlets to keep them clear and free of debris.
Providing shade and shelter, encouraging water and electrolyte intake and providing good airflow while your horse is inside are all good ways to help your horse combat the heat of summer. As always, if you have any questions or are concerned that your horse may be dehydrated or overheated, please contact us at 3H Equine Veterinary Services!