Well it’s finally here - that time of year every equestrian has been longing for. Long, warm, dry days and endless time on horseback! Summer show season, perfect summer evening rides, potlucks at the barn and all those great equestrian summer memories in the making are finally at our doorsteps. Spending time with horses in summer may very well be the highlight of being a horse owner, but it doesn’t come without it’s own set of battles to overcome. Heat related illnesses affect both people and equines, so we’ve got some great summer horse tips to help you beat the mercury and keep everyone healthy in the heat of the day.
Beat the Heat - Enjoying Your Horses in Summer
As the mercury climbs, it’s important to do your best to keep not only your horses, but yourself cool. We all love to spend our day at the barn while the sun is shining, but keeping everyone hydrated and comfortable can be challenging. Check out some of our summer horse tips to ensure your animals are ready to ride and stay healthy when the weather warms up.
- Ventilate your barns - if you don’t have the luxury of attached runs, to ensure your animals are staying cool indoors when you’re not out summer horseback riding, maximum quality airflow is key. Barn fans, lots of open windows and doors, and ceiling fans will keep air moving through your barn and allowing ammonia and manure fumes to exit and fresh air to enter. It also allows for stagnant air and built up heat to make it’s way out, keeping your horses comfortable in the heat of the day. Another added benefit of good ventilation is natural evaporation. Add a breeze to a sweaty person or horse and it’ll assist in cooling them down.
The chance to get out of direct sunlight will help horses in summer stay cooler, along with plenty of access to fresh water.
- Plenty of cover - if your horses are pasture kept, giving them access to trees or run in sheds where they can step out of direct sunlight will help provide them with a bit of relief. Don’t have a run in? We found this perfect plan to DIY! Lay down your Lighthoof Mud-Management panels, put up this easy dream barn essential, and you’ll have shade in the summer and mud free shelter in wetter months.
- Plan your schedule accordingly - mornings and evenings are the bliss of summer at the barn; plan your heavy riding and outdoor activities for the cooler portion of the day. Save your tack cleaning, grooming and bathing, and light weight chores for the middle of the day when the heat is highest. A good midday grooming session still gives you some horsey time without adding to the struggle to avoid peak of the day heat.
- Hydrate and get wet! - It’s no surprise that a lot of heat related health problems come from dehydration. Both people and horses in summer forget to drink or simply don’t drink as much as they should. Constant access to fresh cool water is imperative to stave off a variety of health issues. Caffeine dehydrates; keep those energy drinks and soda in check on hot days! Give your horses ample access to constant fresh and full waterers and you’ll be golden. To cool down, barn misters and even the perfect wash rack can make a world of difference. If you don’t have a great place to rinse down when the heat is just too much, consider creating one. Just make sure you lay down a good base that will prevent soil erosion and give your run off a place to go, get a water source set up and provide yourself a good hitching post and we guarantee your summer will cool down in a hurry. Use electrolytes and salt supplements to encourage your horses to drink, but also to replenish salt as they sweat.
Don’t forget to eat - of all the hot summer horse tips out there, this one gets overlooked quite a bit. Just as important as staying hydrated, staying fueled means you have the energy to keep going on a hot day. The same goes for horses, having access to forage and sticking to their feed schedules is important for good gut health. Hot summer days can mean colic, heat stress and in extreme cases, even heat stroke. Help prevent tummy issues by providing your horses with the fiber they need to keep their digestive tracts healthy. Keeping cool treats for you and your horse is also a great idea. Popsicles for people and frozen water with fruit and treats in it gives them something to do while giving them a way to cool dow
Staying cool is key to enjoying your horses in summer! Beat the heat by doing all the heavy chores early or late in the day.
Staying Cool at the Barn - Don’t Over do it!
It’s best to pace yourself when you’re out with the horses in summer. The middle of the day is a great time to kick off BBQs, relaxing in the tack room or in the shade and watching your horses and their barn mates enjoy some down time. Stay hydrated, stay fed, enjoy the company and best of all, enjoy the summer weather!