How to keep your horse cool in a heatwave

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With UK temperatures set to rocket this week, it’s important to make sure your horse is coping as well as possible. 

Keeping cool

  • Make sure he has access to plenty of water 

  • Ride early in the morning or late in the evening, avoiding the hottest part of the day. This will also help to avoid the worst of the flies.

  • Also consider the length of time you’re riding. Instead of doing an intense ride in the arena, perhaps go out for a relaxed hack.

  • Take care when riding on hard ground and check your fields for dangerous rutted areas that could cause your horse to trip.

  • Cold hose your horse after activity to help him cool down and reduce the risk of heatstroke.

  • Make sure your horse has access to shade/shelter when in the field.

  • Also consider ventilation in the stable. Keep windows open and use fans where necessary.

  • Make sure any pink noses or heels are protected from the sun. You can use sun lotion, but a stickier gel product will stick better as your horse grazes.

  • If transporting your horse to an event make sure he is allowed out of the horsebox/trailer as quickly as possible. Don’t leave him shut in it for long periods of time and keep it well ventilated.

  • Park in a shady spot to keep your horsebox cooler for your return journey.

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Symptoms of heatstroke in horses include: 

  • Restlessness/Lethargy

  • Rapid pulse and breathing

  • Increased sweating

  • Excessive salivation

  • Redness of the tongue and oral area

  • High body temperature

  • Erratic heart beat

  • Muscle spasms

  • Stumbling gait, and in extreme situations, collapse

Find out more about looking after your horse in hot weather with advice from vet Alistair Love, in our next issue.

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