I LOVE summer! Long, warm evenings. Beautiful weather for hacking followed by a cool drink in a pub garden – bliss! But it’s not without its buzzing downsides. Flies, dehydration, lethargy and sunburn are all things us horse owners need to take into consideration when caring for our horses during the summer months.
Upping the H2O
Ensuring your horse has access to enough clean, fresh water is essential to help prevent dehydration. Although there are lots of influencing factors (including the type of feed a horse is on), horses normally need about 5% of their bodyweight in water a day. Therefore a 500kg horse can drink 20-30 litres of water a day and this can increase to 50-60 litres in hot weather. Dehydration along with loss of electrolytes, can cause symptoms such as lethargy, stiffness, tying-up and even colic.
Some top tips for keeping your horses water intake up include:
- Soaking hay
- Try to provide multiple water sources
- Adding water to feeds and using soaked fibre products
- Adding mint or apple juice to water buckets, apple bobbing and making horsey ice pops with fresh fruit is a fun way to include more water in the heat, be sure to monitor your horse during play.
Apple Lytes have been carefully formulated to replace the key electrolytes and encourage drinking to help prevent dehydration and maintain peak performance all season.
Flies, flies and more flies!
Menaces of the summer months! Flies are not only irritating, but carry bacteria and can inflict some nasty bites. Luckily there are many products to assist keeping these tiny pests at bay.
From more natural citronella based sprays to products with more active ingredients such as ‘deet’ there is a perfect product out there for your horse. If your horse has a more sensitive skin a more natural spray may be best, for all other horses its personal preference as to what product you choose but we are always happy to help you decide.
Horse scared of sprays? We have roll on or gel products to apply with a sponge.
We love washes!! These are fabulous ‘must have’ summer products, refreshing and no rinse, they’re perfect to use after exercise or as a general ‘cool down’ on a hot day.
To reduce your horses exposure to flies further:
- Use fly masks and rugs
- Keeping your horse in during the day
- Keep on top of your poo picking and try to position the muck heap as far away as possible.
The shelter your paddock provides is important to take into consideration during the hottest days of the year.
If your paddock does not have any natural shade or field shelter you may wish to consider bringing in during the day if your stable is cooler and adequately ventilated.
This time last year I did not have this option as I had just brought my 1 year old who would’ve been too stressed in her stable and my paddock provided no shade. Nightmare! Luckily Fleur was okay with sponge baths and was able to use my 16hh cob Alfie’s shadow as shade, cheeky mare! And we regularly cooled Alfie down with the hose. Whatever your paddock situation, there is always a way to keep your horse friends cool.
It’s not just us that need to slap on the sun block when the sun is out. Horses are just at risk of from sun burn especially if they have pink skin or white/grey hair. My poor boy got a little sun burn on a part of his body no man would ever want sunburn one year, whoops!
To prevent burning apply sun protection to delicate, sensitive areas of skin which are at high risk of sunburn daily. To assist the healing of sunburn a soothing aloe vera based product is perfect!
Spotting the warning signs
Being able to recognise signs that your horse maybe struggling in the heat is vital to ensure their wellbeing in the heat.
Dehydration signs include:
- Dark urine
- Reduced urination
- Very dry droppings
- Reduced amount of droppings
- Dry skin and dull eyes
- Higher heart rate
Heat stroke signs include:
- Muscle spasms
- Reduced performance
- Panting and nostril flaring
- Decreased appetite and thirst
- Slow recovery after exercise
If your horse is showing signs that are concerning for you contact your vet immediately. Move them to a cooler, shaded area and provide water to encourage them to drink. Cooling the body temperature down with cold water until help arrives will also be massively beneficial.
About the author
Lucy has loved horses since a very young age. She owns two horses, Alfie (26) and Fleur (2), and enjoys happy hacking and agility. She really enjoys helping our customers with herbs and supplements for horses.