Summer is my favorite time of year. Life always seems to slow down a little. I love feeling the hot Texas sun on my back, and jumping into some kind of water – whether it is the ocean or a lake, or a pool – to cool off after a hot day outside. Pool parties and vacations are constant, and everything is just more fun. However, life is not always more fun for horses. They can have a tough time in the heat, especially here in Texas, so it is so important that we meet their summertime needs.
Plenty of water is must, as we all know. It is also good for them to be on electrolytes, and salt blocks; much like we have to drink sports drinks after being out in the heat. Fans are a necessity in the South too! My horses have always had fans in their stalls, at home and at horse shows, to help them stay cool and comfortable. It is also important that horses are not overworked, or allowed to overheat in hot weather. I always take more breaks to walk or stand in the shade when I am riding in the summer. If my horse’s nostrils are flaring, and he is huffing and puffing, I will take a break until he catches his breath and seems more comfortable. He always gets a shower after working, and typically stands at a fan before going in his stall if he still seems hot.
Chance has never had a problem sweating, but I had a horse in the past that did not sweat well in the summer. Sweating is how horses cool themselves off, so if they do not sweat enough it is very easy for them to get overheated. It is unclear why some horses do not sweat well, or stop sweating well. My horse, Espresso, sweated well the first summer I owned him; but the next year he didn’t. Maybe it was because he getting older, or maybe it was because we had been traveling a lot for horse shows and he really did not have time to adjust to the Texas heat and humidity. I kept him on extra supplements that helped. I have used TrueSweat and One A.C. I felt that One A.C. worked better for Espresso, but he is the only horse I have had that had this problem. People also say that beer helps them too, but I have not tried that. I also had to really watch his breathing when I rode him. He got lots of breaks, and sometimes I would hop off and spray some water on his chest. It seemed to take a long time for him to cool down after a ride, so he would have to hang out under a fan for a good while. Luckily, I was able to manage his hot weather problems and ride and show him during the summer.
Summertime can be a lot of fun for us and our horses if we are conscientious about their care, and pay close attention to how they respond to hot weather.
For more summer horse care tips check out Kentucky Equine Research’s Seasonal Spotlight!