While the summer time is less dangerous overall for your horse, it is important to make sure that he stays happy and healthy by keeping his bedding just the way he likes it, making sure he stays hydrated and checking him regularly for signs of illness. Horses are intelligent and loving creatures, but they cannot always tell you exactly what is wrong, so it is important to know how to properly care for your horse during the hot summer months.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Whether you have only just started your horse owning journey, or you are doing research in preparation for buying your first horse, learning how to properly take care of your horse throughout the year is essential, particularly if you have never owned horses before.
Remember, looking after a horse is a full time job, there is no time off once you get a horse! They are big animals and need a lot of looking after.
Making sure that your horse has ample bedding is imperative in both the summer and the winter, however you’ll want to check on your horse bedding more often in the summer to make sure that it doesn’t contain any lies or flies. Flies like to lay eggs in hot areas, which can become irritating for the horses when the eggs hatch, so change your horse bedding regularly to prevent an infestation. You can also put up flypaper in the stables to prevent flies from gathering near the horses.
Keeping your Horse Cool
Horses love to relax in the shade, so planting some trees in their enclosure would do a great service to your horses. Otherwise you can always keep the stables open so that they can go inside for a bit of shade if the heat and the sun ever get too much.
Horses noses are sensitive and can be burned by the sun, so it is a good idea to use sun cream on your horses to help protect their coat. The sun cream can be used on the whole horse, which is ideal for older horses or horses with a lighter, thinner coat. Another good way to cool your horse down is to invest in a horse rug, which covers the main body of the horse and deflects heat, keeping it cool and also protecting his coat from the sun.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Hydration and Nutrients
A big trough full of water is perfect for hot horses. Make sure the water is fresh and clean and that you keep it topped up. If possible, place it somewhere under the shade so that the horses aren’t in the baking sun when having a drink. Sweating cools you down but also makes you lose useful nutrients so in order to keep these replenished it is a good idea to add a few salt licks around the enclosure for your horses to munch on.
Signs of an Unhappy Horse
It can be dangerous if your horse is sweating too much, or not at all. Horses cool themselves down much like we do; by sweating, so when they have difficulty sweating or sweat too much, this becomes a problem. You can normally help cool a horse down by gently hosing them with cold water, or by providing them with shade and fresh water in case dehydration is the issue, but they should be able to sweat without much difficulty. If the problem persists after hosing them down and keeping them hydrated, refer to your local veterinarian.
All in all keeping a watchful eye on your horse and making sure he has water, shade and a good salt lick or two should be sufficient for the summer months. However it is also important that you make sure he is happy and healthy and not subject to any mood changes, or there might be something wrong. Pay attention to his body language and see how he responds to you, horses are great at letting you know what they need without words.
Article provided by Mike of Dollar Bedding - a horse bedding specialist based in Sussex, UK.