Summers in Virginia mean uncomfortable amounts of heat and humidity. The average summer temperatures in Northern Virginia reach the upper 80’s.
Regardless of your region, Summer naturally brings hotter temperatures that require proactive planning.
Summer weather can bring a variety of health hazards if you own a horse. These health hazards can include everything from dehydration to pesky bug problems to heatstrokes.
Horses are usually able to cope well with heat and humidity, but extra care in management can go a long way. Here are a few ways you can keep your horse healthy and cool this Summer:
- Adjust your turnout schedule.
Plan your turnout schedule around the cooler times of day during early mornings and late evening. These are the best times for turnout as it allows for minimal sunlight and maximum shade.
- Plan around bugs.
Mosquitos and flies are nuisances that can further stress horses during the summer season. Don’t let Summer’s bugs stress your horse out even more.
To keep mosquitos from breeding, get rid of any standing, stagnant water in your horse’s stall or water trough. We also recommend that you regularly remove manure from the pasture and barn.
- Airflow inside your barn.
Midday is often the most comfortable time of day to stable your horses as the sun is at its maximum exposure. Be sure to install fans in your barn aisle and your stalls to maximize ventilation.
- Easy access to water.
Your horse’s hydration is vital in high temperatures.
This is why it is crucial to plan for easy access to water at all times.
Keep several water sources available and refill water bucks with fresh, clean water every day.
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 inn your horse’s morning feed. Another option is to dissolve the powder in the water trough – and offering a salt or mineral lick to encourage drinking. Please note that you should immediately call your vet if you ever suspect severe dehydration.
- Cold water.
Another handy tip is to freeze gallon jugs of water. We then place them in our horse’s water troughs like ice cubes.
The cold water allows for hydration – while simultaneously regulating your horse’s temperature from the inside out.
IF YOU’RE RIDING:
- Use lightweight tack.
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.
- Lighter workloads.
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.
- Cool down after riding.
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.