By: Deb Kitchenmaster
How do we help our horses cope with the heat? Because NEIGH-BOR it’s HOT outside!
You’ve heard the saying “No Sweat,” right? Usually those two words mean “No problem.” This is not the case in the equine world. When a horse is unable to sweat, he is unable to keep his internal organs and brain from overheating. Horses cool themselves by sweating. The evaporation of sweat from skin has a cooling effect. High humidity becomes more challenging for coping with heat because humidity keeps sweat from evaporating as quickly, and horses are more prone to overheating in humid weather.
The appetite also decreases on hot days. Thin, young, or elderly horses are at high risk for losing weight during extended periods of hot weather. If you have a concern in this area, please go to my website www.corralconnections.com and click on NATURAL SOLUTIONS FOR PEOPLE, PETS and HORSES. To the left you will see “for your horses,” scroll down to WEIGHT CHECK OIL. This oil is a tremendous source of omega fatty acids. There are no hydrogenated fats or processed fats and is extremely palatable. Horses need “good” fats, also known as “calm” or “cool” calories. Good fats would be your omega fatty acids. In this oil are omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. It is cold-pressed, not heat processed. If your horse needs to lose weight or maintain his current weight, give 1-2 ounces per day. If horse needs to gain weight, increase amount of oil. Just pour it over your feed.
Your 4-legged friend needs some relief from the hot rays streaming down from a cloudless sky, relief that comes in the form of a lean-to or shade tree(s). If your horse is stalled, be conscious of adequate ventilation. A fan in your alleyway helps circulate airwaves also. Not all fans are appropriate for barn use. When buying a fan, buy one that is designed for agricultural use. These fans have motors sealed up to prevent dust and dirt from interfering with the motor and starting a fire. The cords are heavier, also. One bite (horse, mice, or raccoon) to a cord can cause a short circuit and potential fire. Unplug fan when not in use.
One of the best ways to cool an overheated horse is to spray or sponge him with cool water. Immediately and continuously scrape off the water. A shedding blade is a great tool for this, using the smooth edge not the jagged. This encourages evaporation. If you don’t scrape the water off, it could actually trap heat and make things worse.
Let’s talk diet. It’s more difficult for horses to digest and break down protein during hot weather. Limit alfalfa and high protein feeds. Provide pasture or good quality grass hay. Now, let’s do the math. If combined temperature plus relative humidity level meets or exceeds 150?F, do not ride or work your horse. Cheers! I’ll drink to that.
Horses can drink twice their normal amount of water when temperatures rise above 70?F. On the average, a thousand pound horse may drink eight to ten gallons of water a day. When the heat is on, that same horse can consume sixteen to twenty gallons of water a day! Make sure your horse has plenty of fresh water daily. Remember the salt! Your horse needs to have access to lose, free-choice salt daily, especially in the heat. You can go to www.athensnowal.com to the Horse Whispering column dated May 18 – May 31, 2018, and read the article “PASS THE SALT, PLEASE” for more information about the importance of salt for your horse.
Happy trails to you! Your calendar is marked with horse shows and trail rides in the heat and humidity of a southern summer day. Trailer your horse in a “cool” trailer. That would be a horse trailer, white or silver in color. Studies show dark-exterior colored trailers can be 20-30 degrees hotter inside. Large windows and ceiling roof vents maximize airflow.
There’s another type of a horse in heat but that’s a totally different topic. We can talk about that later. Be cool.
By: Deb Kitchenmaster