Summer heat can make it uncomfortable for horses and ponies. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat stress and how to deal with them.
Is a veterinarian at Haggard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, specializes as an equine surgeon and has served as a Federation Equestrian Internationale Veterinary delegate at three-day competitions in the United States.
Werner points out that your horse or pony does not have to compete at the Olympic level to be at risk during summer conditions.
Werner stated that horses could become overheated when both heat and humidity are high. The physical exertion they have to perform can happen just like humans. Horses can easily get too hot if exposed to high heat and humidity.
Things to Think
It is important to determine if the animal is used to this particular climate.
Explained that some horses are more comfortable with higher humidity or warmer temperatures than others. Horses that have been imported from Europe might not be able to adapt to high heat or humidity immediately. It might take horses a while to adjust, just like a person.
Remember that horses are generally warmer than humans. Remember that horses are generally hotter than you, especially working.
Werner stated, “When we ask them to perform, they do a lot more work that we are!”
What are the Symptoms?
- High rectal temperature. The normal equine temperature is around 101 degrees Fahrenheit. A higher temperature can be caused by physical exertion in hot environments. However, a temperature of 104 after a regular workout can indicate a problem, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms.
- Vocalizing. Sometimes horses in distress may whine frequently.
- Feeling lazy, slow, or unable to perform.
- Open-mouth breathing.
- High respiratory rates.
- Don’t sweat it.
What should I do?
Stated, “The first thing you should do is get off your horse. Cool them down with some cool water. You must quickly remove the tack from the horse. Move to a shaded area.
Horses may require intravenous fluids. However, many horses will be able to tolerate a cool bath and some water.
Horses exposed to hot and humid conditions can benefit from electrolyte therapy. Werner stated that electrolyte imbalances are common in horses at this time of the year. This is because horses lose so much sweat through sweat. Horses with electrolyte deficiencies can also develop thumps. Thumps, also known as “synchronous dialytmatic flutter” or “synchronous diaphragmatic vibration,” sound like a hiccup and can be a sign of electrolyte imbalance, low calcium, or dehydration.
Stated that horses working at a moderate to heavy level of work might need to be supplemented with electrolytes during this time of the year because their sweat is so fluid-intensive. It is best to do this ahead of time. You can help them with electrolyte support if they have an event that involves travel or physical activity.
Water on, water off
According to Werner, concentrating cool water on large muscle groups is the best and most efficient way to cool horses. This means spraying cool water over the horse’s rump, back and flanks.
Werner stated, “You want to get cold water on and then scrape it off.” “As the water warms, it acts like an insulator and can make them overheat.”
Werner said that while some people may also use ice to protect key points like the jugular, the “water on, wash off” method will suffice.
Avoid exercising horses in hot and humid summer conditions. Werner said, “Try to ride at night if possible.” “Whatever your feelings are, it is also what your horse feels.” Regular breaks are a must. Don’t ride if it is too hot. Try to ride in shaded areas or go on a horseback riding lesson instead of spending too much time in the heat. Use your judgement: If it’s too hot to ride, it’s likely too hot to ride.