As summer's heat stretches out, both you and your horse may be ready for the cooler fall weather ahead. Here are some quick tips to make the remaining hot summer days more pleasant for your horse.
If possible, change your schedule to beat the heat. Consider turning your horses out at night and bringing them inside the barn during the day. Ride as early in the morning or as late in the afternoon as possible. Instead of ring work, you might try heading out for a ride on a shaded trail – just bring plenty of bug spray.
Hose your horse down frequently to keep him cool and comfortable. If your horse is very hot, such as after a workout, hose him off, scrape off the excess water with a sweat scraper, and then repeat the process until his temperature lowers. You can also focus the hose on the femoral veins on the insides of his hind legs – this will help to cool his blood supply and lower his body temperature.
If your horse is turned out, be sure that he has adequate shelter from the sun, such as a shed or a dense cluster of trees. When he's in the barn, open all of the doors and windows possible to maximize circulation.
The Importance of Water
Keep your horse hydrated to keep him healthy in the heat. Make sure that he always has access to water which is clean and appealing. Dump and scrub buckets at least once a day; bacteria and algae grow quickly in the summer heat. Always check stock tanks and automatic waterers to be sure that they are functional, full, and clean. Horses drink at least five gallons a day, though your horse will likely drink much more during hot and humid weather.
Take a Day Off
Some days it's simply too hot to ride: Knowing how to recognize that and choosing to take the day off will save both you and your horse lots of stress and possible heat exhaustion. Temperatures which are over ninety degrees can spell trouble for a horse if they're accompanied by high humidity. Since horses sweat to cool themselves, high humidity makes that cooling effort less effective; riding in hot temperatures with high humidity can lead to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke for your horse.
Also take into consideration the climate to which your horse is accustomed. A horse frequently ridden in warm temperatures will be better able to cope with a hot day than will a horse which is used to a cooler environment.
If it's too hot to ride, give your horse the day off, hose him down, and provide him with clean, cool water. Keep him cool and comfortable and avoid the risk of heat exhaustion.