It’s summer – and with it comes the long awaited hot weather. But this can create problems for your horse and pony – so here are our top ten tips for keeping him cool and comfortable.
Slip Slop Slap!
Yes, horse and ponies can get sunburnt just like us! Especially if they have pink skin exposed on areas such as noses and eyes. Keep a bottle of SPF 30 sunscreen in the yard and apply it to your horse’s sensitive areas before you turn him out in the morning. You can buy fly masks that offer UV protection, some also feature a nose-guard for extra cover. You’ll notice red peeling skin if a horse’s face gets burned – apply a soothing lotion and be sure to keep them out of the sun until it’s healed.
Water Water everywhere!
Did you know horses can drink over 10 gallons of water on an average day – so imagine what they’ll get through when the weather’s scorching hot! Make sure there’s a plentiful supply of fresh, clean water every day. Clear out your troughs if they fill with algae and turn green – this happens much faster in warm weather, and make sure automatic drinkers are working.
Horses and ponies sweat much more during the heat, losing vitals salts in the process. Make sure you add extra salt to your pony’s feed, or place a salt lick in the stable or somewhere accessible in the field so he can lick it and replenish his salt stores whenever he wants.
Flies can be a complete pain for your horse, clustering round their eyes, and biting their bodies. There are lots of things you can do to help this – there are some great fly sprays available now – just spray plenty on before you turn out. Otherwise consider a fly mask for the face and a fly sheet for the body –these provide a great shield from these annoying creatures. Make sure you check face masks regularly to ensure they haven’t slipped or are obscuring your horse’s vision. Click here for our home made fly spray recipe.
They say only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. So, pick your riding times for the cooler times of day – early morning or evenings are best. Your pony will appreciate it, and you’ll have a much more enjoyable ride, too!
Imagine standing out all day with the sun beating down and nowhere to go to escape it. Torture. So, if you can, try and turn your horse out into a field with a shelter, or a tree for shade.
Always keep an eye on the weather reports. They are pretty accurate almost to the hour and if you know some hot or stormy summer weather is on its way, you can get ready for it in advance. Be prepared!
Avoid travelling in the heat of the day. If you are competing, leave as early as possible to make the most of the cool morning weather, and when you arrive, try to find a shady spot under a tree. Consider whether it will be more comfortable for your pony to stand on the lorry or trailer or out in the shade. In hot weather, always keep all air vents and windows open to keep as much fresh air flowing in as possible.
Back to Front!
If your horse is normally stabled at night and out during the day, consider reversing his turnout times to avoid the hottest temperatures and the worst of the flies.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your horse’s hooves during hot weather. They can become dry and brittle from the heat and hard ground if they aren’t looked after. Use a hoof dressing designed to hold moisture in and keep hoof walls hydrated. You could also consider supplements such as biotin, calcium and zinc to help maintain health, and don’t forget to keep feet nicely trimmed to prevent any cracks moving up the hoof.