Australian summers can be as harsh and long as they are beautiful, for this reason we must pay extra attention to the health and happiness of our horses. It may surprise you to know that your horse heats up much faster than you during a leisurely trail ride or workout, and they are much more susceptible to the negative effects of heat stress. We’ve put together a few simple steps to keep your horse cool this summer.
Make sure your horse gets plenty of fresh, clean water every day. It seems like a no-brainer, but your horse is at a higher risk of dehydration, heat stress and exhaustion during the longer summer months. Making sure your horse has a constant source of water in their pasture will keep them hydrated and cool.
Hose your horse down with cool water after a workout. Hosing down your horse with cool water at the end of the day will help remove sweat that attracts flies and they’ll find their daily show very refreshing.
When riding in hot weather, make sure you monitor your horses’ behavior. Horses, like humans, can get overworked in the summer sun and their behaviour will reflect discomfort. If your horse is having trouble breathing of heaving heavily you should untack them immediately, get them to some drinking water and hose them down. It’s best to avoid riding in the hottest part of the day, so schedule your rides for the cooler periods, like the early morning or the late evening.
Always keep a salt block in your horse’s pasture. Salt is the main mineral that horses lose when they sweat. Horses will sweat a lot during a ride, especially in the summer sun, so make sure they’ve got a salt block to lick whenever they want. Salt blocks are readily available at the feed store.
Both you and your horse must be sun smart. Horses with white markings on their face may get sunburn, so you may have to apply sunscreen on a daily basis. If your horse is sunburnt you will notice red patches and peeling, these patches could turn into sores if not treated quickly.