FAQ About Hot Weather Horse Care

Two chestnut horses in a pasture drinking from a water trough on a sunny day.

With the temperatures rising, you may be asking yourself a few questions about caring for your horse in the hot weather. You might wonder when is the best time to ride your horse or how you can help them stay protected from the sun's harmful rays. Here at Jeffers, we understand the importance of making sure your horse is cared for year-round. Join us as we tackle a few of the most commonly asked questions about hot weather horse care.

When should a horse be turned out in summer?

The best time to turnout a horse in the summer is during the coolest hours of the day. Turning out your horse during the early morning or evening allows your horse to roam without burning excess calories from sweating, stamping, or swatting away insects. Make sure when you turnout your horse that they have access to plenty of water and shade. Depending on your location, it might be best to turnout your horse in the evenings. Turning your horse out in the evenings keeps them more comfortable in the cooler temperatures. Plus, there are fewer pesky bugs, so they can graze comfortably.

How can you keep your barn cool in the summer?

Keeping your barn cool in the summer is essential to keeping your horses comfortable and the pests at bay. Agricultural fans in the barn and stalls promote airflow to help keep your horses comfortable and cool. The additional airflow also helps keep pesky mosquitoes and flies from bothering your horse. Leaving the doors and windows open whenever possible also helps the barn air from becoming stagnant and stifling. Also, you may want to consider purchasing a misting system, which helps horses stay cool by promoting the evaporation of heat off of the horse’s skin. 

When is it too hot to ride your horse?

Although recommendations vary, it’s usually considered too hot to ride your horse if the combined temperature and percentage of humidity are greater than 150. During the summer, it can often become too hot to ride or exercise your horse safely. Because of this, you may have to alter your training schedule. When choosing a time to ride or exercise your horse, it is best to do so during the morning or evening when the temperature is coolest. As always, make sure your horse has access to water and shade, and be sure to take plenty of breaks. Carefully monitor your horse while riding or exercising to make sure they are sweating normally and their heart rate goes back down to normal during breaks.

What vaccines do horses need in the summer?

It is extremely important that your horse is up-to-date on their vaccinations during the summer months. When the temperatures rise, mosquitoes are out in greater numbers, making it crucial that your horse is vaccinated against mosquito-borne illnesses, including Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis, Venezuelan Encephalomyelitis, and West Nile Virus. Also, your horse must receive their boosters annually so they'll remain protected.

Do horses sweat?

Yes, horses do sweat, and it is an important step in the cooling process. Horses sweat to cool themselves during hot weather, exercise, and times of stress. If the temperature increases rapidly, your horse may have a hard time sweating enough to keep their body temperature regulated. This is why it is essential to monitor your horse during hot and humid weather for any changes and to make sure they have enough water. However, some horses can have difficulty sweating. If this is the case, please contact your veterinarian. A couple of products that Jeffers carries to help encourage your horse to sweat are One AC and True Sweat

How do you keep your horse hydrated during summer?

When keeping your horse hydrated during the summer, access to clean, fresh water is crucial. Adding salt into your horse’s diet, such as Himalayan rock salt licks, can help promote more water intake. Feed-thru electrolyte supplements also help to encourage your horse to drink more water while supplementing them with essential vitamins and nutrients. Soaking your horse’s hay in water and cooling your horse by hosing them off also helps them retain water and remain hydrated. 

Do horses need electrolytes in hot weather?

Adding electrolytes to your horse’s diet is essential during hot weather. Electrolytes help replace and replenish what your horse loses from sweating. They can also encourage your horse to drink more water, which helps them sweat effectively and stay cool. Hot and humid climates and periods of stress can cause your horse to need more electrolytes due to increased sweating, so it is important that you provide them with an adequate amount of electrolytes during the summer. 

How do you keep your horse cool in hot weather?

You can help your horse stay cool in the summer by providing them adequate amounts of shade, water, and electrolytes. Horse’s sweat to help them stay cool, so it is important that they are able to sweat effectively. Helping your horse sweat includes providing them with plenty of water and electrolytes. So, as the nutrients are leaving their body, they are replaced. If your horse is not properly hydrated and does not have enough electrolytes, they will not sweat effectively and can overheat. Overheating can lead to heat stress in horses, which can turn into heat stroke if not treated.

How do you protect your horse from the sun? 

Besides providing adequate amounts of shade, UV sheets and fly sheets for horses greatly help protect your horse from the sun. Not only do UV sheets reflect rays and heat to keep your horse cool and protected from sunburn and skin damage, but they also help keep flies off of your horse. Fly sheets for horses help protect your horse from the sun by shielding your horse's body from UV rays with an added layer, similar to how clothing helps humans fight the sun's deadly rays. Fly sheets made with stiffer materials are great during hot weather because they hang off your horse's body rather than hugging every curve, allowing for more airflow.

While it might seem confusing to recommend clothing during hot weather to help protect your horse, the amount of calories they burn from sweating is way less than if they were fighting flies nonstop. Plus, fighting flies can cause damage to your horse’s hooves and tendons, which is why we also recommended supplying your horse with leg wraps. Additionally, fly masks help protect your horse’s face from harsh UV rays while also providing them protection from insects. 

We hope you enjoyed reading a few hot weather horse care tips. All in all, these tips work together to ensure your horse is safe and healthy each summer. If you have any other questions about hot weather horse care, please feel free to reach out to Jeffers Equine Specialist, Kim Cahill, at kcahill@jefferspet.com

Need to stock up on summertime essentials for your horse? Check out Jeffers’ full selection of horse supplies.

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