Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Throughout the summer providing your horse with clean water is key, on average your horse needs to drink 5- 10 gallons of water a day. In hot weather and after heavy exercise horses are more likely lose a lot more electrolytes when they sweat. You can add electrolytes to water, but be sure to provide a bucket of fresh water without, so that they have an option of both. A mineral or salt lick can also be provided to help replace what has been lost. If you are worried your horse is being fussy and isn’t getting enough hydration try something like soaked speedi-beet to get that little bit more liquid in.
How to keep your horse cool after exercise, after a ride a horse may be sweaty or breathing heavily. Take time (5-10 mins) to walk your horse off on a long rein until his/her breathing is returning to normal. Wash you horse off, not only will this help to cool your horse down but it will also remove sweat which can dry out your horses coat and create sores, such as in the girth area or behind the ears. If using cold water straight from the tap, always hose or wash the legs first as this will cool the whole body. Spraying a large muscle with water can cause it to contract quickly and this could make them sore. Remember always scrape the water off immediately, a high body temperature will heat the water quickly and will cause overheating.
It may be worth investing in a few cooling products if you plan to compete during the summer.
The Equi-N-Ice Rapid Cooler Rug. Designed as an alternative to conventional sweat rugs, once it's been treated with equi-n-ice coolant it will drop the horse's core body temperature as quickly and safely as possible. Ideal after competition or exercise, when travelling or simply on hot days, it draws heat away from the muscles by rapid evaporation and has been scientifically proven to reduce the horse's temperature after exercise by 7 degree C in ten minutes.
NEW Equine GelCel Pad. The GelCel Pads are a unique, easy and cost effective way to cool your horse’s legs without using messy gels, ice or sprays. These boots are very easy and convenient to use. They activate quickly when soaked in water and provide an instant cooling action.
If you horse is out 24/7 make sure it always has access to shade/shelter, whether this is natural or man-made. Our British summer time means we can very easily vary from rain to sunshine, so they will need protection from both. If this is not an option make sure you have somewhere to bring them in to get out of the heat, or you have a waterproof lightweight rug ready to hand.
Fly rugs and hoods provide great protection for those horrible horse flies and midges, it is definitely worth investing in a well-made fly rug. Make sure won’t rub and has UV protection which will help reflect the rays and help horses with pink or sensitive skin such as the Mark Todd Fly Ultra Combo Rug.
Try a horse fly trap, I have 4 at my livery yard and although they only went up half way through the summer a good 200 flies were caught! If you’re a bit sceptical, there are plenty of videos on YouTube of how to make your own.
Last year I discovered a little trick to help protect my horse from the flies when out hacking. I took an old fly rug, cut a large hole out where the saddle would go and removed the belly straps and buckles and then rode in it, and I can tell you it did make a difference.
Ice Ice Baby
A little cool down treat, get yourself an old ice-cream tub or large yogurt pot , chop up some carrots and apples, pop them into the tub and top with water or apple juice, then freeze. This ice pop can be fed from a feed tub or for a bit more fun, add some rope and hang in the stable as a toy.
Avoiding sunburn, Horses, particularly white horses can get sun burnt. Areas such as white socks, blazes, hairless patches and pink noses are all vulnerable to sunburn. Apply sun cream to these places – carrying out a patch test first or shield muzzles with a UV fly hood.
Get yourself a good fly wound cream, flies spread infection and can delay healing in the wound. I have the Battles summer fly cream that’s bright yellow, it’s great for helping to heal the wound as well as keep the flies off!
Summer is the perfect time to give your horse a good scrub and clean up without them getting cold, but you also need to be kind to their skin! A product I have just come across is the Cowboy Magic Rosewater Shampoo. This shampoo contains a conditioner that attacks residue build-up from minerals and chemicals while deep conditioning the hair and skin giving a long lasting shine and UV protection too.
On your travels
Travel sensibly, during travel horses can expend a lot of energy just through balance and that’s without the heat of a confined space. Unless you have fans or air con to keep your horse cool, try to travel in the cooler parts of the day. High temperatures or too much waiting in traffic can quickly cause your horse to overheat and become dehydrated.
Time to ride
If you have to ride when it’s hot, try to lighten the work load, or shorten the ride and aim for quality instead of quantity. If you can, ride in the early morning or later in the evening when its cooler, and make sure you cool them down properly after each ride. The ground can very quickly turn hard in the summer so limit long or intense periods of training on grass or reduce your warm up if possible.
Of course leg protection is a must when competing, try to opt for a boot that will protect but also allow your horse’s legs to breathe such as the Kentucky Horsewear Air Tendon Boots or the New Equine X Country Airflow Boot.
Of course don’t forget to protect yourself, make sure apply plenty of sunscreen when you are out and about on the yard. Try wearing a cap such as the Kentucky Baseball Cap, it will help shield your face from the sun as well as stopping your scalp getting burnt.
A number of companies are now producing riding leggings, they are much lighter weight and cooler for the summer months but can also be bought with grips for the knees and seat. I have them myself and wouldn’t go back to wearing a breech in the summer! A firm favourite would be the Montar Alexa Riding Tights.
*All of the products mentioned in bold can be found on the Equissimo website.*