As temperatures rise during the summer, keeping your horses cool and comfortable is crucial. Horses are particularly sensitive to heat and may be susceptible to heat-related illnesses if not managed properly. Here are some tips for keeping your horses comfortable and safe during the hottest days of the year.
Provide ample water. Hydration is key to keeping your horses cool and preventing heat stress. Ensure that fresh, clean water is always readily available. Check water troughs frequently to ensure they’re clean and full. Consider putting the water source in a shady area to encourage horses to drink more frequently. Additionally, putting out a salt block can help horses replenish the electrolytes they lose through sweating.
Reduce workload and exercise. During hot weather, adjust your horse’s workload and exercise routine. Avoid exercising horses during the hottest parts of the day and instead opt for early morning or late evening rides when temperatures are cooler. Monitor your horse closely for signs of fatigue, such as excessive sweating, laboured breathing or reluctance to move. Provide adequate rest as needed.
Provide adequate shelter. Make sure your horses have access to a shaded area where they can escape the sun’s rays. Natural shade from trees or man-made structures such as run-in sheds or corral shelters can provide relief from the heat. Regularly inspect the shelter to ensure it’s safe, sturdy and free of hazards.
Use cooling techniques. Wetting down your horse’s body with a hose or sponge can provide immediate relief from the heat. Pay extra attention to the neck, chest and legs, as these areas are particularly effective in cooling the horse’s core temperature. Another effective method is using fans in the barn or stable to improve air circulation.
Adjust your feeding routine. Adjust your horse’s feeding routine during hot weather to accommodate their decreased appetite and increased water intake. Offer smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to reduce digestive strain. Focus on providing high-quality forage, such as hay, to promote healthy digestion and help regulate body temperature.
Signs of heat stress
If you notice any of the following signs of heat stress in your horse, it’s important to act immediately:
If your horse shows signs of heat stress, move them to a cool, shady area and offer them plenty of water. If your horse’s condition doesn’t improve, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Farming and livestock equipment in southern Ontario
At Ontario Wholesale Farm Direct, we carry an impressive range of farming equipment for horses, including feeders, fencing, shelters and troughs. We deliver farm supplies to operations across southern Ontario, from small hobby farms to large-scale operations. Contact us today for more information or shop our online store.