We love to complain about the weather in the UK when it’s slightly too hot or cold for our liking! With the thermometer rising above 30° for most of England next week, here are our team’s top 10 tips when caring for your horse during hot weather.
Whether there’s a specific issue, or you just want to know you’re doing the best for your horse, we can help. Get a personalised equine diet plan prepared by our nutritionists for FREE. Fully loaded with expert advice, it’s a must-read for horse owners.
1. Provide unlimited access to clean water
Make sure your horse has unlimited access to clean and cool water. In hot weather the average horse can drink up to 50 litres of water per day so ensure your horse’s bucket is regularly topped up. You can freeze blocks of water using plastic boxes and ice cream tubs to cool the water in your horse’s trough. It’s also important to clean water buckets and troughs regularly as algae and bacteria can grow quickly in hot weather.
2. Make fruity ice lollies and add apples to your horse’s water
Cut up apples and carrots and freeze them with water in a box to create a horse sized ice lolly. This can help to cool them down and keep them entertained when standing in the heat. You can also add apples to their water buckets to encourage them to drink more water.
3. Provide shade
Ensure your horse has access to shade in their field or stable. The temperature in some stable blocks will be far hotter than your horse’s field if there is restricted air flow so evaluate if your horse is better in their field or stable.
4. Improve airflow in your horse’s stable
If your horse is stabled, consider using a fan outside their stable to increase airflow. Make sure to keep cords and plugs out of horse’s reach!
5. Restrict exercise
Exercise your horse in the early morning or late evening to avoid the hottest hours of the day and reduce the intensity of your horse’s work. Your horse will not mind a couple of days off so do not ride if the weather is very warm.
6. Hose down your horse
Throughout the hottest parts of the day, wet your horse using a hose, sponge or bucket to cool them down. Research has proven that horses cool quicker when the water is left to evaporate compared with scraping the water off.
7. Prevent sunburn
Apply sunscreen to any pink areas of your horse’s skin, especially pink skin on their nose, multiple times a day in very sunny weather to prevent sunburn.
8. Fly prevention
Apply fly repellent sprays and use fly sheets during the summer months if your horse is bothered by flies. Pick up droppings regularly in the stable and field to avoid attracting flies near your horse.
9. Add extra water to your horse’s feed
Water can be added to any feed to increase your horse’s water intake. Pelleted feeds can be soaked with more water than usual to form a sloppy mash. Don’t leave any feed soaking for more than a few hours in hot weather as the feed can start to go mouldy. You can also soak or steam hay to increase your horse’s water intake.
10. Feed electrolytes
Horses lose electrolytes through normal bodily functions like sweating, so it is advisable to supplement your horse’s diet with electrolytes. This is especially important during hot weather and when your horse is in hard work to replace the essential electrolytes your horse loses.
Call your vet if your horse shows any signs of heat stroke
If your horse shows any signs of heat stroke such as lethargy, muscle spasms and panting, call your vet as soon as possible. Follow veterinary advice and cool your horse by covering them with cool water consistently without scraping the water off.