CAUTION – Horses in hot weather

With temperatures expected to remain high over the weekend we thought we would give you some general advice about keeping horses cool in hot weather!

  • An obvious one to start…please try not to exercise your horse in the hottest hours of the day! It takes at least 2-3 weeks for horses to acclimatise to working in hot conditions.
  • The same goes for travelling your horses. If it is an option, try to aim to travel in the cooler hours of the day. Trailers and horseboxes can get incredibly hot.
  • Horses should have access to fresh, clean water at all times and are likely to drink considerably more in hot weather.
  • Try to provide shade from trees or buildings during turnout hours. You may also want to think about turning horses out during cooler times (eg overnight).
  • Keep a close eye on the skin and look out for sunburn, especially on horses with pink muzzles!
  • Sweating is a mechanism used to cool the body and a horse that works hard in the heat can lose 2-4 gallons of sweat each hour. Electrolytes (eg sodium) are lost as part of sweat so if your horse has sweated profusely you may want to add electrolytes to their feed.
  • Cooling off your horse – the quickest way is to cover the body surface in cool water ie sponge or hose.

Horses can suffer from heat stress with complications such as dehydration, muscle problems or even colic or collapse.

Possible signs of heat stress include a raised temperature (normal is 37.5-38.5 degrees Celsius), high respiratory rates that do not come down over time, high heart rate and lethargy. They will likely show signs of dehydration including a prolonged skin tent when pinched and dry mucous membranes. If your horse shows signs of heat stress then please phone the Vet immediately!! Whilst you wait you should attempt to cool the horse with cold water, move to a cool area and provide plenty of drinking water.

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