With UK temperatures set to rocket from this weekend, it’s important to do what you can to keep your horse cool, comfortable and healthy. These tips from vet Alistair Love MRCVS will help.
1 Make sure he has access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
2 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.
3 Consider the length of time you’re riding for. Instead of doing an intense ride in the arena, perhaps go out for a relaxed hack.
4 Take care when riding on hard ground and check your fields for dangerous rutted areas that could cause your horse to trip.
5 Cold hose your horse after any work to help him cool down and reduce the risk of heatstroke. Continually pouring water over him is an effective way to help him cool down.
6 Make sure your horse has access to shade/shelter when in the field. Many horses may prefer to be stabled during the hottest parts of the day and turned out overnight.
7 Consider the ventilation in his stable. Keep windows open and use fans where necessary.
8 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.
9 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.
10 Park in a shady spot to keep your horsebox cooler for your return journey.
11 Worried your horse isn’t drinking enough water? Soaking hay and adding water to feeds are two simple but effective ways to increase his water intake.
Heatstroke can happen in horses. Symptoms to look out for include:
- 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
If you see these signs, or are in any doubt, call your vet immediately.