No doubt, we all love summer. But when the thermometer gets close to 40 Celsius, I start to worry about how my horse will overcome this heat wave. The danger of a heat stroke is indeed 10 times higher in horses than in human beings. This is why it is so fundamental to integrate a dedicated and lighter training plan to this season. The equine base temperature lays around 37-38* Celsius and if 41 degrees is exceeded, you can be quiet sure that temperature in your horses’ muscles lies around 43*, meaning that his proteins are being burned. A dehydrated horse doesn’t act much different from a dehydrated human being: fatigue and debility are the first signs to watch out for. Your horse may recover slowly from the workout, happen to stumble and have a weak pulse and shallow breathing. In order to make sure your horse is fine, you can check for signs of dehydration by looking at his mucous membranes by holding up the upper lip and pressing on his gums. If the area you pressed doesn’t return to pink quickly, that can be a sign of dehydration. Also, you can perform a pinch test by briefly pinching your horse’s skin on the shoulder. If the pinched area doesn’t quickly smooth out, it can be an indicator of dehydration.
Here are some tips on how to best overcome the summer days:
- Always make sure your horse drinks enough water, also on the paddock.
- Never train under the direct sun. Better not to get on horseback from 11 am to 6 pm and train only in the early morning or evening hours.
- It is your horses right to move free in the paddock, but make sure not to put him under direct sun. He needs shade and water at his disposal.
- As me and you, horses get burned, too. Especially grey and white horses need to be protected from UV light.
- Fly rugs should only be put on in extreme necessity and under strict observation.
- If your horse overheats, bring him to a shady spot and put water on him starting from his legs in order to avoid a temperature shock.
- If your horse collapses, call the vet immediately!
- When washing your horse, make sure you get him wet all over the body. Help yourself with a sponge and take the water off with a sweat scraper. Repeat for at least for 10 mins until your horses’ skin feels fresh and sweat doesn’t come down anymore.