Caring for your horse during summer
As temperatures and humidity increase, the heat can really take its toll on horses in the summer months. In these kinds of conditions, it is important to undertake the right measures to keep your horse comfortable. Whether you’re a novice to the world of horses, considering buying a horse of your own, or a seasoned owner wanting a quick refresh, we have pulled together some important factors to remember when it comes to looking after your horse in the summer.
Appropriate feed in the summer months…
Just like ourselves, horses need protection in the summer months as well as extra care given to ensure they are well hydrated and fed correctly. Depending on your horses’ normal diet you may wish to adapt this slightly when approaching the summer months. With this in mind, it is important that you adapt your horse’s diet appropriately.
In the summer months, cut back on high sugar feed and favour your horse to turning out directly feeding them grass and hay as part of their diet during this time. If you have a laminitic prone horse/pony make sure you have a routine suitable for the care of this. It is crucial that you introduce these changes slowly in the run up to high summer as sudden differences in diet can cause colic.
Once you adapt your routine, feed your horse smaller amounts throughout the day to lower their caloric intake. This is a much more efficient way of feeding your horse in the summer as opposed to larger less frequent meals as it ensures that the digestive process is spread out.
Hydration for your horse…
It may seem obvious, but in the summer months it is easy to forget that, if your horse is outside, it is exposed to the heat, humidity and beating sun. In these adverse climates, dehydration is a worrying issue and loss of fluid can cause colic.
In worse case scenarios, extreme dehydration can lead to death, and it is therefore important to give your horse plenty of clean, fresh water. Horses require 55 litres of water and we recommend regularly ensuring their trough or bucket is full. Don’t forget! These water containers can get dirty pretty quickly, so ensure that you properly maintain them.
To further prevent unnecessary dehydration, in addition to the new feed approach, try introducing salt licks and electrolyte infused water. These will help replace the salts and electrolytes lost through sweating in the adverse hot weather. Position a salt lick near your horse’s feed and water to encourage them to engage with it. You could even spray their hay with salt water if your horse doesn’t seem to be entertaining the salt lick or electrolyte-infused water. To help encourage a higher intake of water try adding apples in the water bucket or extra water into hard feeds.
Shade and exercise…
It goes without saying, that in the summer months your horse will require shade to cover themselves from the beating sun as horses too can get sunburn, especially white horses or those with white socks and pink noses. The shade can offer a comfortable drop in a few degrees, so where possible, try to move your horse out of the midday sun until the temperature drops.
If your horse is a working animal, lighten the load and stick to shorter working sessions. We recommend sponging your horse down with cool water after each session. Ensure that your horse is not out wearing tack for lengthy periods of time. If you’re out riding in the sunshine, your horse will need to be wearing less padding under the saddle in order for their bodies to stay cool, you can obtain some great saddle pads which are designed with a more breathable material. We also recommend choosing to head out on a hack when the heat has subsided a little, maybe in the early evening.
Pests and environmental factors…
Flies can be particularly irritating in the summer months and can cause a lot of distress to your horse. A fly mask and fly rug not only helps with keeping insects at bay, but also works as a brilliant sun protectant in the summer shading your horse’s sensitive eyes, ears and body from UV rays. Here at Country & Stable we stock a wide range of fly masks and fly sheets to fit just about every size horse. If you’re still unsure, we have created a comprehensive guide to fly masks to understand why you need a fly mask and how to fit one effectively.
Signs of heat distress…
Sometimes even with the best intentions, heat stress in horses can happen, check out our next blog giving you an in-depth guide on recognising and dealing with heat stress.
Remember, whether your horse is a much loved pet, or a working animal, just like yourselves they must be protected from the elements.