Summer is the best time to own a horse, but we have been getting some real scorchers these last few years. Here are some tips on keeping your horse cool this summer.
- Ride early in the morning or in the evening. It is usually hottest from about 1pm – 5pm so before or after is better, even if it means changing your regular ride time.
- Ride under cover when possible. If you must ride in the heat of the day, ride in the covered arena. Without the sun beating down on you and your horse, you are apt to keep several degrees cooler. However, if it’s before or after the heat, you may find a nice breeze if you ride out-of-doors.
- Consider "cool places" to ride - on a shady trail or on the beach.
- Dark colored horses – like dark-colored clothes – will absorb more of the sun’s rays and be hotter. So be extra vigilant with dark skin animals.
- On the other hand, light-colored horses or horses with any white markings are more susceptible to sunburn. Make sure you put a light coat of sunscreen on the tip of your horse’s ears, on his nose and any other white spots exposed to the sun.
- Look for high-tech fabrics in saddle pads. Many pads are textured or made of fabrics designed to keep your horse cool under the saddle. Remember that dark colors absorb heat, so think white saddle pads. Or, if you feel comfortable, ride bareback.
- Keep your workouts short. Do just enough to keep your horse in shape and his mind sharp.
- Even though it’s hot out, it’s still important to warm your horse up before tackling any serious riding. Walks on a loose rein with transitions or changes of direction are usually enough.
- Of course, you must cool your horse down after riding. Because it’s hot out, don’t expect to get your horse down to no sweating. Just give muscles time to relax. If you can get off and hand walk him, so much the better.
- Periodically offer short water breaks while cooling him off. Hold off on the deep drink until after he’s relatively cool.
- A post workout shower is always appreciated but, again, wait until he’s pretty well cooled off. Your initial inclination may be to turn on the cold water, but warm going gradually to cool is less of a shock to his system. Though it may be warm at shower time, it may get cool later in the evening so consider if your horse will need a light cooler if he’s still wet.
- Finally, know the symptoms for heat exhaustion of your horse and how to treat it. Left untreated, it can lead to the more severe heat stroke.
Follow these tips and have a great summer!
<span style="color:#000000;">Photo credits: Equestrians Rock, ClearSpan</span>