Horses are prone to overheating and dehydration in the summer, so owners need to take extra steps to keep them cool when temperatures start rising. Here are horse care tips for the summer months to help keep you and your horse cool.
1. Schedule your ride in the early morning or night
Riding before the worst of the heat sets in can help you and your horse avoid dangerous temperatures. Conditions with high humidity can also decrease your horse’s natural ability to cool itself through sweating.
Avoid traveling when it’s too hot. Horse trailers can quickly become an oven on wheels if there isn’t enough airflow and water. Horse owners need to be mindful of the temperature when traveling in the summer, planning for stops along the way.
2. Give your horse a constant supply of fresh water
Make sure they have plenty of water. Sweating is the primary way that horses cool down, and they can lose up to 2 to 4 gallons of water per hour. You might want to consider electrolytes when working with your horse in the heat, especially if they’ve been sweating for an extended time.
Check your horse’s water daily and make sure it has a constant supply of fresh water. Hot temperatures and high humidity are notorious for causing algae growth, so you may also need to clean your trough more often.
3. Trim your horse’s hooves for the summer
Hoof care is essential all year round, but less moisture in the ground, air, and hooves can increase the risk of injury in the summer months. Regularly trimming horse hooves is the best way to maintain proper hoof health and avoid dangerous cracks, abscesses, and infections.
Remember that your horse will likely gain weight throughout the spring and summer months. This time brings plenty of green and healthy foliage out, giving your horse an additional supply of micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins. If their hooves are wearing unevenly or they become overgrown, the summer weight can increase their risk of injury.
4. Inspect horse hooves when trimming and grooming
Summer is a busy time for horses and their owners. It’s easy to miss a crack in your horse’s hooves and or the early signs of an injury during these times. This is why inspecting your horse’s hooves when trimming or grooming is even more critical during the summer months.
Small cracks and injuries now can lead to dangerous infections and illnesses as fall approaches. Cracks can appear in the summer because hooves expand and contract when the humidity changes in the weather. Hooves expand in humid conditions and contract when it’s dry.
5. Know the signs of dehydration in a horse
High temperatures will cause a horse’s drinking frequency and volume to increase considerably. Look out for these signs to tell when your horse isn’t getting enough water:
- Thick mucus and saliva
- Depressed with low head posture
- Rapid or shallow breathing
You can also do a pinch test on the skin of your horse’s shoulder. Pinch and pull the skin, tracking how long it takes for the skin to return to normal. The return should be immediate in a well-hydrated horse.
More tips to keep your horse happy and healthy
Keep up with Hoof Boss for expert tips on caring for horses. Find new ways to make grooming effortless, avoid common mistakes, and keep your horse happy.