For horses, summer brings a welcome change of pace. Perhaps it means extra time outside the stall, more physical activity, or for some, travel. It also means high heat and extended time in the sun. It’s important our horses remain comfortable and healthy when the mercury rises. We’ve taken the top tips from some of our favorite equine health resources to keep you on top of your horse’s health during the height of the summer season.
From The Horse: Focus on Hydration
Horses need water, and that need increases in hot weather. Water requirements for hard working horses can double or triple in the heat. Keep these principles in mind:
- Base hydration needs start with a minimum 5 gallons of water per day, but rises to up to 15 for hard workers in high heat.
- Offer a gallon of water every 15 minutes if a horse is very hot or exhibiting signs of exhaustion.
- Ask your vet about supplementing with a dose of electrolytes.
Here’s more from The Horse…
Hydration Tip: Pinch a little skin on the horse’s neck and wait for it to go back down, says Cheshire Horse If it stays “pinched” for more than a few seconds, he might be dehydrated.
From Practical Horseman: Heightened Health Concerns
Heat, ground conditions, and additional activity can mean extra vigilance is required when it comes to equine health issues. Summer is the time to be on the alert for some of these common concerns:
- Hoof problems can arise from more time in contact with dry, hot ground, or from moisture due to more time turned out in the evening. Be alert to hoof damage and disease with regular hoof and shoe examination.
- Tick-transmitted diseases can cause lifelong health issues, and mosquitoes and gnats can cause skin problems and discomfort. Consider permethrin products, perform body-checks after activity, and make your environment unwelcome to these pests.
- Good barn management to reduce hay allergens goes a long way to making a horse’s summer less miserable. Read more about seasonal equine allergies .
Read more from Practical Horseman Magazine
From EQUUS: Dangerous Rays
Like humans, your horse is susceptible to sunburn. Horses with a white coat, white nose, or simply white markings are vulnerable, as are any pink skin areas and muzzles.
- Use sunblock on white or pink skin areas (human sunblock will work—keep a tube in the stall) and consider UV-blocking masks or nose masks.
- Treat sunburn: use emollient cream and see your vet if you detect red, tender, or swollen skin.
- Be on the alert to photosensitization. Unlike sunburn, it occurs when a horse eats a plant that contains a photodynamic compound that reacts to UV rays. It is a serious disease that can damages tissues and requires treatment.
Read more at EQUUS Magazine
From The Horse: Trailering
Heading to the fair, horse show or a competition? Keep in mind that a trailered horse is not at rest – movement with trailer motion can be equal to that of walking. Be mindful of trailering and travel best practices:
- Allow for post-travel recuperation and hydrate.
- Be alert to illness – horses are more susceptible after travel.
- Never park a trailer in the sun.
Read more at The Horse.