Written by Emily Harris – Sisters Horsing Around
Summer is coming to a close and Autumn will be taking its place, and with the change of the season one would think the weather would change too. However in the United States, it is not uncommon for the temperatures to continue soaring. With temps reaching up to the 90’s and 100’s, you can almost guarantee that there will be even hotter days. And with so many hot days in store for us, caring for yourself and your horses are important so that you stay healthy and cool.
First things first, you need to make sure that you and your horses are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated!! Remember to make sure the water troughs or buckets have fresh clean water at all times! If your horse’s water is out in the sun during the day and you want to provide them with cooler water, then you can use a milk jug or soda bottle filled with water that is frozen and put them in the water trough as horse-sized “ice cubes.” And don’t forget to provide salt, either loose or block, for your horse, it will certainly help your horse to drink more and put back at least some of the needed nutrients that they will have lost while sweating.
Take a water bottle with you whenever you head to the barn. Keep a cooler or small fridge stocked with drinks like water, gatorade, and fruit like bananas, watermelon, pineapple, oranges and grapefruits, peaches, cantaloupe, grapes, blueberries, and strawberries which are the perfect energizing and refreshing high-water content snack for not only yourself but also for your horse! Popsicles and frozen treats is another way to cool down while also satisfying your sweet tooth, and if you want to share the same enjoyment with your horse, you can make some frozen fruit popsicles for horses as well!
We all know that a trip to the pool is in order to help cool us down after a hot day full of work! But what about your horse? Horses enjoy getting cool during or even after a hot day just like you do! Some horses enjoy going “swimming” too, and if they have access to a body of water they will not hesitate to hop right on in. But for those who don’t have such bodies of water or don’t have horses that like swimming, rinsing your horse off is a good way to cool them down. They might not even seem to like being hosed down, but they do like the feeling of being cooler. Make sure that you scrape off the excess water.
And of course there are the usual tips like: provide shade for your horse like a run-in shed, consider stalling your horse during the day and have turnout at night, and provide a stall fan for cooling (pretty much a no-brainer, right). These are probably things you already do, and they are pretty easy too. But what about a misting fan? Now those can be pretty expensive, but you can most definitely turn this idea into a fun DIY project. A quick search on google will give you several inexpensive ways to convert your existing fan into a misting fan!
Aside from the need to stay cool and hydrated during the hot season, you will need to be on the lookout for heat illnesses like heat stress, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), and heat stroke. These ailments can be very detrimental to not only your health, but also the health of your horse. If you feel that you or your horse are experiencing the beginning of any one of those heat illnesses, stop whatever you are doing and get you or your horse cooled down immediately! Bear in mind that when the temperatures are soaring outside and the humidity levels are up, the “real feel” temperature will be significantly elevated and precautions will need to be in place. Having a plan to cool you, a friend, and even your horse down if and when you begin to overheat is a good step forward to being prepared.
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