Keeping Your Horse Cool in the Summer Heatby Lourie Zipf on Apr. 10, 2012, under Uncategorized
I was born and raised in Tucson and unlike many others who reside here in Arizona, I am not a “snowbird” at heart. I have a love for the mountains and the snow and the winter’s cold. That “reptile blood” just doesn’t run through my veins and I so long for the cooler days of fall, which now, seem so far away.
Unfortunately, the ever-looming threat of summer is approaching. As humans, we adapt and find ways to escape the heat. But what about our equines? What can we do to prepare them for the scorching days ahead?
As a horse owner and resident of Colorado for 25 years, I decided to do a little research on the Internet. I’m sure this is “old hat” for many of you, but I think it’s important to reiterate some of these points. It may also be helpful to those horse owners, who are new to the state and who are unfamiliar with the conditions here and how they may affect your horse. This is some of the information I found on the following website:
|Water - provide cool, clean water for your horse daily. Average size work horses can consume over 25 gallons of water per day when the temperature is above 70°F. Also, keep water troughs and stock tanks clean and free from insects to promote consumption.|
|Shade - offer an escape from the sun while in the pasture with a run-in shed. In addition, turnout your horse as early as possible in the morning to help avoid the heat. To combat early morning mosquitoes and flies, use suitable repellents, fly masks, and sheets.|
|Electrolytes - replenish salt loss during excessive sweating with a suitable electrolyte supplement, especially with work horses or when the combined temperature and humidity exceeds 140°F. Serious electrolyte loss causes fatigue, muscle cramps, colic, and more.|
|Ventilation - cool your horse while he rests in the barn with appropriate stable fans. If possible, leave barn doors and windows open and install misting fans near each stall. Choose a run-in shed with an open-end design to promote airflow.|
|Baths - sponge cold water over your horse, especially down the large blood vessels under the belly and neck and inside the legs. In extreme heat, spray a 50/50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and cold water over his body to aid sweating.|
|Fodder - feed quality hay, especially as warm weather slows grass growth and pasture quality declines. Hay offers energy, which your horse needs to help regulate his body temperature and power his natural cooling processes.|
|Coat Care - clip your horse’s coat and keep his mane and tail trimmed. Apply a zinc oxide sunscreen to pink noses to help prevent sunburn. Use shampoos with added sunscreen to help protect against UV rays and sunburns.|
I think what I’ve learned, most importantly, is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate your horse. Make sure that he/she has plenty of water. Don’t exercise them in the middle of the day. If they are healthy, they should do just fine. I, on the other hand, may not do so well. I’ll just have to keep thinking about Colorado and those cool, crisp days that I spent in the Rocky Mountain air…and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.