We're well into summer, and it's been a hot one this year. Here are a few tips for summer horsemanship and husbandry.
Dump and refill water buckets and troughs often. Horses need lots of water to tolerate the summer heat, and may not drink as much as they should if the water is warm and stale.
Trace mineral salt bricks in the feeders and/or blocks in the daily turnout pastures will help horses maintain electrolyte levels.
Although you should never push a poorly conditioned horse too hard, heavy sweating, even to the point of globs of foam blowing off the horse's body is no reason for concern in a fit horse. However, if either man or horse ceases to sweat while still working in the heat, there is a serious problem. Work must cease and steps must be taken to cool and re-hydrate the individual. Medical attention should be sought if any distress becomes evident.
Slowing the workout to a leisurely walk for a period before finishing the ride allows the horse to cool off a bit and concludes the ride on a relaxed, positive note. Horses should never be put away while blowing or hot, and this is especially important in the summer.
Hosing a horse off after a ride helps cool him and removes some of the itchy sweat-salt from his coat. Start with a mist to the front legs, then work up to the chest, neck, and shoulders, then gradually back to the rest of the horse. This prevents the shock of cold water being suddenly sprayed on the back and kidneys.
Don't make every after-ride hosing into a shampoo bath. Frequent soaping isn't good for the coat, skin, or hooves.
Clean male horses' sheaths several times over the course of the warm weather rather than trying to get the job done all at once.
Restrict horses' water intake when they are hot from running or working. A few swallows may be okay, but don't allow an overheated horse to have access to more than two gallons of water until it cools off.
Don't feed horses when they are hot from running or working. Wait until they have completely cooled.
Back to EQ Summer 1999 Index.