Just as too much heat can take its toll on humans, the same can be said for horses. The summer weather can pose serious health risks for your horses if you aren't careful. However, by keeping your horse hydrated, providing him or her with proper shade, and knowing the signs of heat stroke, you can ensure that your horse is safe and healthy throughout the entire summer.
Keep Your Horse Hydrated
Your horse needs to stay hydrated just like humans and any other animal. When your horse is in engaging in physical activity and on extremely hot days, your horse will need more water than other days. Depending on your horse, he or she may prefer plain water or water mixed with electrolytes.
Some horses will need to be encouraged to drink to stay hydrated. Here are some tips to ensure your horse gets plenty of water:
- Use salt to encourage drinking: Spray your horse's hay with salt or provide your horse with a salt block to encourage him or her to drink more water throughout the day.
- Soak food with water: If your horse's water is drenched prior to eating, he or she will automatically consume more water.
- Mist your horse: Believe it or not, your horse has the ability to absorb moisture through his or her skin.
- Offer Fresh Water Throughout the Day: When your horse's drinking water gets warm, he or she may not drink as much – or at all, so it is important to change the water out throughout the day to fresh, cool water.
Provide Your Horse with Adequate Shade
Apart from ensuring that your horse has plenty of water to drink on hot days, it is important that your horse has a well-ventilated, shaded area for grazing and resting. Barns can become unsanitary and stuffy because that have limited ventilation. Of course, horses don't need to be in the direct sunlight either, as this can cause extreme heat stress and even sunburn.
What your horses need is a corral shelter or a run-in shed that can provide them adequate shade and fresh air. Horses won't be confined to a specific area, as they will be free to enter and leave as they please, but they will have a shaded area where they can rest and stay cool and comfortable.
Know the Signs of Heat Stroke in Your Horse
Just like humans, horses can suffer from heat stroke. Therefore, it is important that you be familiar with the signs of heat stroke in horses. Here is what to look for:
- Increased or lack of sweating
- Increased salivation
- Increased body temperature
- Fast or thready heart rate
If you notice any of the signs above, or that your horse is acting strangely, seek medical attention immediately. For more information, contact your local horse shelter builders.