7 Horse Care Tips For Summer
Help Your Horse Beat The Lowcountry Heat
How to Care for Horses in Hot Weather
The hottest days of summer have come! Summer means we have more time to ride and care for our horses, but, with the long, hot summer days, as responsible equestrians, we also need to pay close attention to our horses’ health. Just as humans are, horses are sensitive to extreme heat and sunlight, which can lead to dehydration, lethargy, and other problems. Read on to learn about seven essential tips for taking care of your horse during the hot summer months! Have a question or would like to schedule an appointment at Carter Veterinary Services?
An Overview of Water Needs for Horses
Clean, fresh, potable water — available at all times
10 to 12 gallons of water a day for an idle, mature horse (5 gallons for basic body maintenance, which can double or triple in hot weather)
10% more water for pregnant mares
Encourage horses to consume as much water as possible before and during prolonged exercise, to prevent dehydration (issues such as laminitis, founder, and colic can develop if a hot horse is given lots of water after exercise)
Clean water buckets regularly to prevent bacteria and algae buildup
Water temperature should ideally be between 45° to 65ºF
#1: Cool Shade
If your horse lives outdoors for the most part, they need shelter to provide them relief from the mid-summer sun. A run-in shed is the ideal option for shade, but trees can also provide them some cooler shade when they need it. The color of your horse’s coat can make them more or less sensitive to UV-radiation — e.g. horses with pink around their muzzles can suffer from sunburn and white/gray horses are more vulnerable to the sun’s rays.
Shady spots can provide a temperature drop of 10 degrees or more.
If shade isn’t available, consider letting your horses out at night during the summer and keeping them in the barn during the day.
If your horse is particularly sensitive to heat, avoid having them out when the sun is highest ( between 2 PM and 5 PM).
Cover horses with pink noses or white socks with fabric or sunblock to prevent sunburn.
#2: Modified Work Schedule
If you work with your horse during the day, for their sake consider moving the most intensive work to the coolest times of the day, such as early morning and the late afternoon. Letting your horses rest when the sun is high will help keep them happy and avoid dehydration, exhaustion, and so on. If you can’t change your work schedule, lightening the workload for them can help as well.
#3: Keep The Bugs Off
UV radiation and heat aren’t the only risk factors for your horse in the summer — so are bugs. Mosquitoes and flies can be torturously irritating to horses. Get rid of any standing, stagnant water anywhere around where your horses live. If their water trough is a breeding area for mosquitoes, you can simply add some apple vinegar to it to keep the bugs out.
#4: Lack of Sweating
Horses sweat just like humans do, however, some horses have anhidrosis, which means they have difficulty sweating. These horses are likely to struggle during the hot summer months. Misting them down with water, putting fans in stalls, and providing ample shade are extra important for horses with anhidrosis to keep their core body temperature down.
#5: Summer Travel & Immunity
For some horses and their owners, summertime means traveling around for equine sporting competitions, for work, for boarding, and for other purposes. At this point, your horse should have already received their spring vaccines. If not, contact Carter Veterinary Services for advice for what equine healthcare is recommended for your horse this season.
Beyond vaccinations, providing the horse with a balanced diet is one of the most effective ways of supporting their general health and immunity.
#6: Cool Off
After riding or exercising, it’s important to take some extra time to help your horse properly cool off.
Walk leisurely until their breathing returns to normal
Hose them off with cool water
Have them graze in the shade
Place fans in the barn to keep air circulating
Traveling with a horse in a trailer? Make sure the trailer is well-ventilated and has large windows. Also, avoid transferring horses during the hottest parts of the day and stop regularly on long journeys to check in with how they are doing and provide them with water. Remember — horses are constantly balancing themselves in trailers, which can be quite tiring. Insulation such as rubber floor mats can help minimize heat coming up from the road and help keep them reasonably cool.
Tricks to Increase Water Consumption
Have a horse that doesn’t seem to be drinking enough water? Here are a few extra tips to help them get enough liquid for the hotter months.
Provide them with a salt block or spray hay with salt water to encourage drinking
Provide both water with and without added electrolytes
Wetting the hay can help increase total water consumption and moisture in your horse’s gut (many horse feeds can be soaked and served)
Change water frequently. Horses prefer cool, clean water.
Caring for Horses in Summer
Summer brings heat, insects, humidity, and other potential problems for your horse. We hope this guide has helped you get a better idea for how to care for your horse during the hotter, drier months here in the Lowcountry. There are many more things to know about summer horse care. If you’d like help formulating a year-round healthcare plan for your horse(s), contact Carter Veterinary Services, LLC today for comprehensive support for everything from general equine care and routine vaccinations to emergency services and equine dentistry.
Our team is committed to providing you and your horses with the best possible equine care in the Lowcountry all year round. Whatever type of medical issue your horse is facing, we will work with you to provide the comprehensive veterinary care they need. Schedule an appointment for your summer check-up today!