With winter blankets and horse rugs finally being packed away, it’s pretty clear that summer is finally here! But with hot summer weather comes the need to be more watchful of your horse as it is difficult to know what our beloved equine friends need.
Lengthier days, teamed with soaring temperatures, can mean that this beautiful season can soon turn ugly, if you don’t think about the health of your horse.
All of a sudden, the worries of keeping your horse warm and breaking the ice off their water becomes a distant memory… one that is replaced with concern about how they are coping in the heat. But, helping your horse beat the heat is easily achievable, if you put the thought into ensuring that they are fine.
So, the team at Masterclip have got five essential tips to prepare your horse for the hot summer months ahead.
Supply Lots and Lots of Water!
With the outside temperature getting hotter day-by-day, your horse will require a lot more water than usual. In fact, given that an average horse consumes four to nine gallons of water in a normal day, you may find that you need to give your horse double during the summer months!
You also need to make sure that it’s fresh water that is being changed every day. This doesn’t necessarily require you to trek up to the stables though, as you can have an automatic pump that does the hard part for you.
You need to make sure they have access to water wherever they go and if they don’t drink as much as they should independently, you need to entice them to do so by using some sort of flavouring, such as honey.
If they aren’t being provided with enough water during these hot summer months, the odds of them suffering from stomach pain will increase. So, ensure they’ve got access to water 24x7, including the time spent at events, shows, on the road etc.
Keep Up to Date with Grooming Maintenance
Preparing your pony for those hot months is as much about showmanship as it is about their health. Well before summer begins, it is the ideal time to put some good quality horse clippers to use and trim everything, taking care to remove tangles from the mane and tail. You should purchase a wide-bristled mane comb to do this.
Once you’ve groomed your horse, clean up their coat with a soft brush (body brush). Doing so will remove any dust and hair left in their coat, plus it will give a shiny finish as it spreads your horse’s natural oils across their body evenly. The better the brush, the shinier the coat. Both you and your horse will feel better for it.
Keep Them Cool
It’s quite a task to look for shade when on the go, so shun the idea of arranging rides when it’s hot outside, since horses have the tendency to overheat quickly as their coat makes it difficult for them to sweat as efficiently as humans.
Try taking your equine friend out in the mornings and evenings instead, as the weather is a lot more agreeable for a ride.
During the day, ensure that they’re able to escape to a shady area - a tree that’s out of the sun is what they usually prefer. When the day comes to an end, sponge down your equine to avoid attracting flies because of their sweat.
Help Them Help Themselves
You might not be aware of this, but horses actually have their very own air-con system, in a sense. Their body has numerous natural cooling processes that it likes to utilise, and these processes are brilliant at helping horses keep cool.
However, just like any other “machine”, these bodily functions require the right fuel to work as efficiently as they can. To do this, ensure that your horses has high quality forage in their day-to-day diets.
Without getting too much into the scientific side, a horse’s main method of dealing with heat is sweating. But when they sweat, they struggle to retain water and electrolytes, meaning they need to replace it through what they are eating.
Keep Yourself Updated
Summer is prevalent with all types of diseases and pests doing the rounds. Not to mention, even intestinal parasites can take a toll on your horse. So, it becomes all the more important to ensure that you’ve stocked up all the necessary vaccinations to protect them from these diseases.
Furthermore, worming on a daily basis is crucial, especially in areas where the chances of intestinal parasites tend to linger. If you aren’t sure whether you must worm your horse daily or not, ask your vet to conduct a faecal test to search for parasites and the eggs laid by them
Just like humans who have eaten one too many mince pies over the Christmas period, even horses come out of winters a little out of shape! So, it’s vital to not push them too hard straightaway – instead, work towards helping them build stamina.
If you aren’t sure whether they’re in the best possible condition, don’t hesitate to contact your vet. It’s always a good idea to get your equine friends checked over as often as possible, so you can rest easy knowing they are as healthy and as happy as they can be.
Summer doesn’t mean you must bring all of your favourite equestrian activities to a halt. In fact, merely modify both your and your horse’s daily schedules to continue having fun in the sun, in a safe manner.
If you’re ever in doubt on whether to go to the pool or take a ride in the scorching temperatures, play it safe and go for a dunk. Save the ride for a mild summer evening instead.