Summer is a great time to spend time with your horse. The long, hot days beg to be spent with friends at the barn or in the saddle. Rising temperatures also increase the risk of heat-related stress and health issues for your horse. With a little extra care and awareness, you can help your horse stay healthy in the heat.
Providing fresh, clean water at all times can go a long way to keeping your horse healthy and hydrated this summer.
All horses should have plain, white salt available at all times.
Respiratory Rate: 10-24 breaths per minute
Heart Rate: 28-44 beats per minute
Mucous Membranes: Gums should be moist and pink
Capillary Refill Time: When a finger is pressed firmly against the horse’s gums, the point of pressure should return to a pink color within 1-2 seconds.
Intestinal Sounds: Gurgling, gas-like growls, tinkling sounds and occasional roars are normal and can even be heard by pressing an ear to the horse’s barrel.
Sweating is the horse’s natural cooling mechanism.
As simple as it sounds, providing horses with shade can be significant to beat the heat.
Horses are more susceptible to heat stress in the summer months. Overheated horses need intervention to be cooled down quickly. Heat stress can lead to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. Call your veterinarian immediately if heat stroke is suspected or the horse is in distress.
IF YOU SUSPECT HEAT STROKE, CONTACT YOUR VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY.
Seasonal allergies pose a major problem in the spring and summer months as pollens and molds produce rapidly and insect populations are high.
Feeding a balanced diet is one of the best ways to support a general, healthy immunity.
The average horse will stop and drink 8 to 20 times each day depending on temperature, humidity and amount of work and exercise. How much a horse drinks depends on age, life stage, exercise level and the ambient temperature. An average-sized mature horse will drink between 5 to 10 gallons per day at a moderate temperature of 68°F. As temperatures increase, the amount of water consumed increases significantly. Water consumption will range between 11 to 15 gallons for the same horse at 86°F, and that same horse exercising moderately in 95°F heat will consume 19 to 24 gallons of water. Sweat losses increase water intake needs by 50 to 200 percent.
In summertime, when water consumption is critical, it’s more important than ever to make sure they’re consuming adequate amounts of water to stay hydrated.
Exercise and training sessions may need to be re-evaluated as temperatures rise.
After riding or exercising, take time to properly cool off your horse.
To Cool an Overheated Horse Spray the horse’s entire body with cool water. Scrape water off immediately and repeat continuously until the horse is cool. Water can act as an insulator if it is not removed quickly. If untreated, heat stress can quickly become heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect heat stroke or if your horse is in distress.
Transport horses during the coolest part of the day, either when it’s dark or early morning.
Horses that have a variety of health conditions may need a little extra help in the heat.