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For the health of your horse

Pleun Broeren
27 juli 2023 Reading time 3 minutes

Horses and hot weather: 10 tips

Horses can handle heat reasonably well but extremely high temperatures can be dangerous. So, for your horse's health, it is important to take some precautionary measures on hot days. 

Can horses cope with hot weather?

The optimal temperature for horses is between -7 degrees Celsius and +25 degrees Celsius. Horses feel most comfortable at these temperatures. Anything above 25 degrees Celsius can be considered warm and from 30 degrees the heat alarm should go off. Horses can adapt reasonably well but several factors, such as bright sun, exertion, low wind and high humidity, can cause body temperatures to rise. At its worst, this can cause heat stress, manifesting as diarrhea, colic, dehydration or even heat stroke. Horse breeds from northern regions, such as Icelandic horses and Fjords, generally suffer a bit more from the heat. This also applies to horses with black coats as they absorb the sun's rays more and thus heat up more.  

How to help your horse when it is hot

These 10 tips will help your horse keep its cool in hot weather! 

1. Adjust your grazing schedule 

If your horse is outside for several hours each day, adjust the times. Preferably go outside at night and inside during the day. If that is not possible, try to organize grazing as early in the morning as possible. 

2. Provide shade 

A shelter is preferable but a row of trees can also provide shade. If that is not available, consider placing a party gazebo in the horse pasture so that your horse has the opportunity to seek shade. 

3. Air circulation  

A fan is a great tool to circulate air in the barn but must be used with caution. A horse should definitely not be able to get near the fan itself and beware of any cords! 

4. Provide plenty of cool water 

Unlimited access to fresh, clean and cool water is a necessity. Ice cold water is not necessary, horses prefer to drink water around 15-20 degrees. Remember to provide a water bowl of sufficient size as the water will get hot too quickly in a small bowl.  

5. Encourage your horse to drink more 

If your horse drinks very little, consider spraying the hay with slightly salty water. This is because the salty taste makes your horse thirsty so he will drink more. 

6. Work more quietly than usual 

Although horses can handle heat reasonably well, it's not comfortable for a horse to do very heavy work in extreme temperatures - you wouldn't like that either. Unless you are riding at the absolute top level, take the work back or divide it into two short sessions in the morning and evening when temperatures have dropped a bit. Tip: after riding, take everything off your horse (saddle, possibly tendon protectors, etc.) as soon as possible to allow the heat to dissipate. 

7. Cool off with water 

Just as we like to cool off in the water during hot weather, horses like to do the same. A quick rinse after riding or between grazing will cool your horse down. However, always start with a hose down at the legs and work upwards from there to avoid scaring your horse, giving him a chance to get used to the water. 

8. Prevent your horse from getting sunburned 

A fly rug is very practical for horses when it is hot. It creates a kind of "shadow effect" which reflects the sun, making it a little cooler. So it works not only against flies but also sunburn. Horses with light skin or body parts with little hair (nostrils and around the eyes) are very sensitive to the sun and you can protect them with sunblock. 

9. Shave horses with extremely thick coats 

To give horses with thick coats, or horses with Cushing's disease relief in the heat, you can shave them. This way they won't sweat too much and are less likely to have circulatory problems. 

10. Replenish body salts after sweating 

When sweating, your horse loses fluid and important body salts such as sodium, potassium and chloride. With electrolyte deficiency, your horse's ability to retain fluid in the body is impaired, skin elasticity is reduced and stamina decreases. With the help of a complete electrolyte mix, such as Pavo E'lyte, the lost body salts are replenished. This is suitable for all horses and ponies after sweating. For sport horses that have just finished working hard, the sports drink Pavo ReHydrate is more suitable. This provides an immediate replenishment of electrolytes and energy.  

Tip: add the electrolytes to a tasty slobber meal with Pavo SlobberMash or Pavo GrainFreeMash which you prepare with cold water. That way your horse also gets some extra moisture straight away.  

What is the difference between a salt lick and electrolytes?

A salt lick - the word says it all - provides your horse with salt: sodium and chloride. That is, if he licks it. To make sure that your horse gets enough and especially the right salt, the use of special electrolyte supplements such as Pavo E'lyte is recommended. This not only compensates for the loss of sodium and chloride but also potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus - a mix of all the body salts your horse loses through sweating. 

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Electrolytes +salt +Sweat +training +