This week has brought soaring temperatures to the UK which we can all agree has made a nice change to the wind and rain we have seen recently. When the sun is out it can be most tempting to saddle up and go straight out for a ride. However, to make sure both you and your horse are enjoying the summer, it’s important to be able to spot heat stroke in horses and how you can help make them more comfortable.
Heat stroke happens when a horse is unable to lose it’s body heat fast enough, causing their temperatures to rise dramatically. Here are some of the signs to look out for:
Heatstroke is a serious condition and can be fatal in some cases. So it’s important to take precautions and ensure your horse stays cool and comfortable as it gets hotter. Here are some simple steps you can take.
In hot weather horses can sweat over 5 litres in a day so it’s essential that they drink lots of water to compensate for it. This may seem obvious, but a lot of horses don’t drink very much at all meaning they can quickly become dehydrated. Try encouraging your horse to drink by providing fresh water every day and topping up, as necessary. You could even try adding some apples into the water to encourage them to drink. The apples will simply float on the surface so they can go bobbing for them! Another thing to bare in mind is that the horse’s body cannot retain water without the presence of electrolytes, and electrolytes are lost from the body when a horse sweats. Therefore, it’s worth adding electrolytes to your horses feed and water to help support their body’s natural processes – especially if you’re still riding throughout the heatwave.
If you have access to a cool, well ventilated stable then you might want to consider letting your horse come in for a rest away from the sun. If your stable is too warm, which is often the case with wooden stables, or if your horse lives out, then ensure there is plenty of shade in their field. We’d also recommend putting sun cream or UV protection on horses who are out and who have pink skin as they can suffer from sun burn the same as us. Many fly masks often have UV protection built in anyway so they will help to protect your horses sensitive nose, eyes and ears from the sun.
We’re creatures of habit so naturally it’s going to set us off a little if our routine is changed up. If you normally ride through the day you may want to consider changing your plans so that you’re riding first thing in the morning or in the evening when it’s much cooler and more comfortable for your horse.
If you have been exercising your horse and they have sweat quite a lot, it’s important that you cool them down properly. We’d recommend washing them off completely with cold water, making sure to wet the large veins on the neck and inside of the legs too. You could also choose to pop a nice thin mesh sheet cooler on like the LeMieux Air Tek Rug to help aid the cooling process.
An extra thing to bear in mind during hot weather is your horses feet, which can become very dry and cracked as a result of no rainfall. A hoof moisturiser would be a good investment for the summer months and use daily to keep your horses hooves in top condition.
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