As temperatures continue to rise, the long Summer days can be taxing upon your horses’ health and well-being. Summer time in Virginia usually means uncomfortable amounts of heat and humidity. As this heat arrives, it’s important to constantly monitor our barn’s conditions to help our horses avoid heat stress this Summer.
Although horses usually cope well with heat, extra care can go a long way in ensuring your horse’s best health. Here are a few ways to prevent equine heat stress and add comfort.
1 – Adjust Your Turnout Schedule.
Plan your turnout schedule around the cooler times of day. We suggest to adjust your turnout to occur either in the early mornings and also in the late evenings. These are the best times for turnout as it allows for minimal sunlight and maximum shade. Your horse will thank you as they their grazing by getting out before the sun.
2 – Promote Ventilation
If you follow our content, you likely know the importance we place upon ventilation and natural sunlight in a barn. Ventilation is even more important during hot, humid Summer days. You can read more about the 4 ways we recommend to promote ventilation in your barn here.
For starters, horse stall fans are essential during the Summer. A high-quality horse stall fan will push a strong breeze to keep your horse cool. Additionally, the stall fan will also reduce the number of insects that swarm in the Summer. We recommend to combine a stall fan with other recommendations that can be found here.
3 – Access to Fresh Water
Your horse’s hydration is crucial in hotter temperatures. Did you know that your horse’s water intake needs can double when temperatures begin to climb past 70-degrees? This is why it is important to plan for easy access to water at all times. Keep several water sources available and refill water buckets with fresh, clean water every day. Another alternative to water buckets are automatic waterer systems.
4 – Electrolytes
If you suspect dehydration, you may be able to help your horse by providing electrolyte supplements. It’s best to check with your vet to understand which specific supplements work best for your horse.
In the meantime, you can be proactive by feeding an electrolyte powder in your horse’s morning feed. Another option is to dissolve the powder in the water trough – and offering a salt block or mineral lick to encourage drinking in extreme cases. Please note that you should immediately call your vet if you ever suspect severe dehydration.
5 – Adjust Your Riding Routine
If you do ride on hot days, we suggest to ride as early in the day as possible. If this is not an option, a lighter routine and workload might be another option. Your horse will appreciate a lighter and shorter ride. If you usually work in a sunny ring, perhaps opt to take a trail ride in the shade instead. Regardless of your regime, be sure to include a proper cool down at the end of your horse.
Another recommendation is to use lightweight tack during the hot Summer days. This simple hack is one of the easiest way to ease the load on your horse’s body. This might mean switching from your heavy western saddle to a lighter weight English saddle or bareback pad. Before you finish with your horse, be sure to give him a cold shower to lower his body temperatures. The most important areas to spray are his neck, chest, and and between his legs.
Do you have any other questions on how to reduce equine heat stress during the hot Summer months? There are many ways to mindfully design your barn to optimize for airflow and ventilation. Please kindly feel free to send us an email at email@example.com or a call at (855) 957-8255. Alternatively, you can also complete a Contact Us Form.