10 Hot Tips for Keeping Your Horse Cool
By Ceileidh Sager
The heat of mid-summer is upon us and across Canada, horse owners are looking for ways to keep our horses cool! Here are some suggestions:
- Ride in the early morning or evening. If that’s not an option, a ride down a shady trail might be a cooler option than your regular workout in the outdoor sunshine.
- Make sure adequate shade, either in the form of trees, a run-in shelter or stall, is easily accessible to your horse. In extreme heat, allow your horse access to pasture overnight or in the early morning and late evenings, and keep him stabled during the hottest hours of the day.
- Create a breezy barn. Fans will help air out your barn and keep stabled horses cool and relaxed.
- Apply sunscreen to vulnerable areas. Chromed-out horses with white markings on their faces are particularly susceptible to sunburn. If you’re lucky, your horse will allow you to apply a high-quality, high SPF sunscreen (marketed for humans or equine use) to his nose.
- Keep him hydrated! Sources of fresh, cool water should be available at all times.
- Get those salt licks out! Providing salt will encourage horses to drink and also serves to replace electrolytes lost in sweat.
- Take extra precautions when trailering. Standing in a trailer for extended periods of time may exacerbate heat-related stress. Make sure trailer vents are open for air circulation. When shipping horses in hot weather, offer water and salt before, during, and after the trip.
- Mist, spray, or hose! Your horse will enjoy being spritzed with cool water, particularly after a workout.
- Work him within his comfort zone. Now is not an ideal time to push your mount’s physical limits. Ideally, your horse should be in good condition from regular spring workouts. Nevertheless, riding conservatively will ensure your horse’s comfort and safety.
- Use your thermometer. If you choose to ride in the mid-day sun, ensure your horse has a thorough cool down. Take his temperature, hose him in the shade, remove excess water with a scraper, and take his temperature again until his normal temperature is reached. Become familiar with your horse’s usual temperature so you easily recognize when it’s higher than normal. These steps will help make sure your partner isn’t experiencing heat stress.
Standing in a trailer for extended periods of time can put your horse at risk for heat-related stress. Photo: Robin Duncan Photography