Summer can bring high temperatures and extreme heat. Our horses feel the rise in temperatures just as much as we do so it’s up to us to see to their comfort.
Here are some tips to help you care for your horse in extreme summer heat and keep him/her healthy and happy.
The most important thing you can do for your horse is provide lots of fresh, clean water. In hot weather a horse may drink up to 20 gallons of water each day.
If you have several horses, place water tanks at intervals so that each horse has his/her fair share. Horses that don’t drink enough can be supplemented by making a gruel with feed pellets and perhaps wetting down hay (see our article about wetting hay safely).
In hot weather there is an increase in the insect population. When insects are most active, usually early morning and towards evening, bring your horse into the barn. Fans in the barn can help keep insects away. Insect repellents can be used but make sure they are safe for use around horses. Fly sheets will also protect your horse from insects.
Outdoors, graze horse in an area with shade trees and/or a 3 sided roofed shed for protection against the strong rays of the sun.
Consider hosing down your horse in extreme heat.
In case of heat stress, remove all equipment from the horse and take him/her out of direct sunlight. Take the horse’s temperature rectally. A reading higher than 103.5 fahrenheit (39.8 celsius) is an indication of heat stress. Soak the horse with cool water . Inbetween soakings, walk the horse for at least 5 minutes to prevent muscle cramping. Stop cooling when temperature drops below 103.5 F.
Always consult with your vet when treating your horse for heat stress.