The summer weather has its advantages for horse owners, such as lower hay bills due to increased pasture grass, shorter hair coats to maintain, and longer daylight hours. Despite these benefits, there are some challenges that come with the heat and extra sunshine. Here’s how to tackle some common ones:
It’s important to make sure your horses are staying hydrated during the intense summer heat. Horses can lose up to twice the amount of liquid through sweat in hot and humid conditions than they would in cooler weather. This increases even more with exercise. Horses also lose electrolytes when they sweat, but they don’t feel this loss the same way humans do. That’s why it’s important to provide access to clean, cool drinking water and offer a free choice salt to replenish hydration and electrolytes. A great way to get your horse drinking is to offer a 5-gallon bucket of cool water with 1-2 scoops of Gatorade powder in it. Experiment with the flavors to find which one your horse prefers.
Provide plenty of shaded areas for horses during the summer, avoid exercising in the heat of the day, and always cool down after you’re done riding. The best way to dissipate heat is to rinse with a cool hose that focuses on the neck, chest, and between the legs.
Pink skin around the eyes, nose, and thin white hair on the shoulders/hips are very prone to sunburn. While this is uncomfortable for the horses, continuous sunburn or recurring sunburn can lead to skin cancer. Apply sunscreen to these areas daily using any human product or zinc oxide. Fly masks/sheets that are UVA/UVB protective are also great at keeping exposure down. Stalled horses that get turnout should have the times rotated for turnout from evening to dawn during the summer months to avoid sun exposure.
Some horses suffer from plant allergies or may be allergic to bug bites in the pasture. Insect control, turning out at times when insects are less prevalent or switching to a pasture with a different type of grass can be helpful. There are also medications that can be used to decrease sensitivity to allergies.
With a little adjustment and planning, you can keep your horses safe, healthy, and cool during the summer months.