We´re in the midst of summer and, being from California, it’s no suprise if temperatures start soaring towards the 100s. While most people flee into the air conditioned indoors, equestrians are still out and about doing their barn chores or bringing 16 hour show days to the table. It’s part of what we do and who we are and for some crazy reason, we still seem to love it. Here are some tips to help you and your horse beat the heat and stay safe!
- Water! It’s so simple, yet so hard. Drink enough water! Everyone seems to say it every two seconds, but somehow it’s one of those things that just breezes past us. Seriously! Drink enough water, have a water bottle at hand, and make sure you stay properly hydrated. It’s one of the absolute essentials. Same thing for your horse. Make sure they have access to fresh water at all times.
- Electrolytes! Drinking electrolytes are a great pick me up and also important for your body to restore, as you loose them as you sweat. Gatorade is the popular option most people tend to go for. For the long, hot show days, I however tend to get electrolyte tablets. You just pop one in your water bottle, let it dissolve, and that’s it! They come in many different flavors and have more electrolytes and less sugar than Gatorade. Again, there are also electrolyte powders that you can feed your horse to make sure he stays well hydrated on those extra toasty days.
- Use the cool morning hours to your advantage! As equestrians, we’re used to getting up at the crack of dawn. During the hot summer months, use these precious hours in the morning to ride your horse and for the most strenuous work you’ve got planned for the day before the sun really starts beating down. If you have access to turnouts, it is also common for people to turn their horses out at night when it’s cooler.
- Sunscreen for you and your horse! Yes, horses can also get sunburns! Especially those with a light colored nose are prone to it. You can use the same sunscreen you use for yourself and put a little on and around their nose to keep them safe.
- Know when your horse is dehydrated or overheated! Horses overheat ten times faster than humans and often high temperatures and a low water intake can go hand in hand with colics. Dehydrated horses will act tired and weak and will recover slower after a ride than usual. Their body temperature will be elevated and their pulse will be very weak and fast. A quick and simple test you can perform is to slightly pinch the horse’s skin around their shoulder. If the formed wrinkle does not disappear within three seconds, it can be assumed that the horse is dehydrated.