Help Your Horse Beat the Heat!
By: Jessica Drexler, PAS
While we may enjoy the hot, hazy days of summer, we need to consider the additional stress it can cause our equines. Hot temperatures can be hard on horses and can change the way they eat, perform and act. Help your horse through the hot summer months with some of these tips:
- Always ensure fresh, clean water sources are available. While pasture can be as much as 85% water, hay is generally 10% moisture or less, making access to fresh water extremely important.
- Encourage your horse to drink more by feeding salt daily. After a gradual introduction, it is recommended to top-dress your horse’s daily diet with 1-2 tbsp. of table salt (based on a 1,000 lb. horse). You can also offer loose salt in a container that your horse can freely consume. By providing salt, you are also providing your horse with some key electrolytes.
- Add water to feed or hay cube meals to keep your horse hydrated.
- In extreme temperatures when excessive sweating occurs or during times of training and competition in hot temperatures, offer your horse an additional quality electrolyte product. It is ideal to get your horse transitioned to an electrolyte before competition and continue using it during and a few days after competition. You can feed a paste electrolyte or give an electrolyte in water, but make sure the horse has access to a regular bucket of water as well. Be sure to look for an electrolyte that specifically lists the three main electrolytes: sodium, potassium and chloride on the label. Sucrose (sugar) shouldn’t be a top ingredient.
- We have a feed for you! Additional ingredients in the Triple Crown Gold line are designed to help beat the heat. Gold products feature electrolyte balance that can help support recovery from exercise and enhance heat tolerance.
- Put your horses out to graze in the late evening/early morning hours when it is not as hot.
- Make sure pastures/turnouts have shaded areas or sheds so horses can get out of the sun (and don’t forget to put sunscreen on pink noses that can burn easily).
- Open up your barn to allow for ventilation and airflow through aisles and open windows.
- Use fans in stalls or barn aisles, but for safety measures be sure to turn them off at night and be aware of the dangers of fires from fans that are not designed for dusty barns.
- When exercising horses, late evening and early morning are ideal times when temperatures are cooler.
- Check the heat index to determine when your horse may need a day off from work.
- After a ride or excessive sweating, cool your horse off with a hose. Run water over the entire body until they feel cool to the touch.
- If you must transport your horse, try to do so in the cooler parts of the day (evening can be best) or ensure you have good airflow in your trailer.
- If your horse doesn’t appear to be handling the heat, isn’t cooling down after a competition or they are not sweating, consult your vet immediately.
By making a few changes to your feeding and horse care routine, you can help your horse beat the heat and remain happy and healthy.
For additional tips, check out this article from the University of Minnesota.