As we roll head on into a season of sunshine and humidity, some are elated, and some are devastated. The heat lovers cheer as the cold cravers crawl into their air conditioning, and summer proceeds on schedule! All the while, our horses are building a tolerance for the increased heat and humidity. While a horse would prefer a good 50-65 degree day, we can do quite a bit to help our equine friends adjust to the warm weather. Here are 5 ways to protect your horse from the heat.
Starting from the top, keep your barn doors and windows wide open. Airflow is key to a cool barn as well as the horse’s respiratory health in the warm months. If you have the option, using a stall guard and leaving the stall door open will also help!
On the topic of a breeze… Surprise! You should hang a fan. Fan placement will be the important part. If you place it on the stall door, the fan’s range is narrow, and the likelihood that the horse stands within that range for the day is low. Instead, hang the fan high and facing the center of the stall at an angle. This increases the breeze in the stall and helps to cut down on flies. I use the Tough 1 Collapsible Stall Front Fan Holder to make my life easier.
Want to drop the actual temperature in your barn about 5-10 degrees? Just water the floor. Cool water on concrete or sprayed across a dirt floor is like a magic button. Add some pine-sol to the mix and you now have a fly resistant floor as well. Just be cautious not to overdo it on the dirt floors. You don’t want mud! For good measure, if my stalls are getting too dusty, I’ll spray them down as well before the horses come in for the day.
Moving on to the horse himself, make sure that he’s getting enough salt in his diet. Having a free choice salt block is a good start, but often horses don’t take advantage of the blocks or are unable to lick a sufficient amount of salt daily. If your horse seems to be perpetually warm as the day progresses, add a tablespoon or two of salt into his daily ration.
Simple. If it’s 5 PM and still sweltering, hose your horse off before turning him out. It can help take the edge off until the sun sinks low. Just know that your horse may take it as a prime opportunity to roll.
It’s easy to forget about tack trapping heat, but think about when you wear a vest or carry a backpack. You get hot! So while thicker pads with therapeutic properties usually catch my eye, in the summer months, I am all about keeping it cool! The OEQ Jump and Traditional Saddle Pads are my favorite. Shaped to the horse with a raised wither, tough padding for billets, and light weight with a mesh underlay, these pads are the ticket for your horse’s comfort this summer.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps you and your horse enjoy the sunshine! Remember, successful horsemanship and barn management doesn’t come from a single product or practice. It comes from the horseman’s constant development and education, and a team of people, tools, and practices that support the horse.