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Ways to Help Your Horse Beat the Heat
#1
Anyone else been living in 90 to 100 degree F heat this week? It's been hot enough around here that I've been taking some extra precautions that some of you might not know about.

First of all the flies have been bad this week, so we've been using fly masks. But fly masks can also help keep your horse cool by drenching them with water before putting them on your horse. They also work like sunglasses to protect your horse's eyes from bright light.

If your turn-out area is bone dry, spray it down with water. Not just to settle the dust, but to give your horse a cool place to stand.

And don't forget to make sure they have plenty of fresh water. My two horses have been drinking maybe twice as much as normal during this heatwave.

Provide some sort of shade with plenty of ventilation. We have shade trees in our pasture. If stalled, put up fans outside the stall blowing into them. Your horse will thank you for it.

I know not all horses like it, but my mare Terra loves to be sprayed with the water hose in hot weather. Dove will if it's hot enough, like he did today. Yes, they will roll after getting wet, but this helps give them protection against biting flies.

If you have a farm pond or something similar. Some horses will swim or just stand in the water to stay cool. I had a mare once that loved to swim when it got this hot.

Do you realize that a horse's comfort zone is between 15 to 55 degrees F? Think how they must feel in a heatwave like this one.

I'm sure there are more things we can do to help our horses tolerate the heat. These are the ones that occurred to me. So let's hear from the rest of you folks. Want to add anything to the list?
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#2
A lot depends on whether horses are out 24/7. Mine come in at night, so they get hosed down and scrubbed with a hard-bristled plast brush to get the gunk off, a quick check for boo-boos and sunburns, then in their stalls with hay and a tub fan. All the horses have their own fans that are on timers so they don't run all night.

Mine have been wearing fly masks since the weather started to warm up in late March because of the little bit of UV protection they offer. They get put in the washer every night on slow for the least amount of time I can set the washer.

I only spray legs, bellies and tail bottoms with fly spray because they all quit working after 10 minutes anyway. We are bothered with flies but, nothing like I hear other people comment. Ticks are my major problem, so everyone's on garlic until November.

I have one horse that can sweat up a storm under saddle, but barely sweats in the pasture. We hit the 90's in mid-May and they've never left. There's high humidity to go with that. He was panting in his flanks really hard when I came home from work one night - something he's never done before, so I started him on electrolytes that night and he's fine. Point-being if your horse's flanks are heaving really bad while at rest in the pasture, and he's not sweating, he's in the middle of an anhidrosis attack.

Keep the immune system healthy. I pump everyone full of Vitamin E during the summer and the garlic they get for tick control also helps the immune system.

Cooling them down after I ride is not an issue because there is no way this side of Hades and back anyone is going to see me on a horse in this heat. I couldn't deal with high heat as a kid and I am not any better about it in my old age - lol All my horses have to do is survive turnout from mid-morning until 8:00 PM and it's over for one more day.

I just hope we don't have the freezing cold to this blistering heat when winter gets here.
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#3
Wow, I wish I could afford a setup like yours, WTW, but I'm poor folk and have just two horses. So I do the best I can with what I have. I was aiming this thread toward things we can do with what we already have or things that don't cost a lot. I'm sure there are DE'ers that appreciate your expertise. Lots of good info in your post that I learned from too.

I was mainly after ways to help horses stay cool than fly control... though they do go hand-in-hand. I mentioned the fly masks mainly as a way to keep your horse cool while outside. It doesn't take much to dunk them in water and put them on your horse.

Heat exhaustion is a completely different subject too, but does tie in to keeping your horses cool. I've experienced it once or twice with my own, but not recently.

Some people like adding suppliments in certain conditions. My philosophy is if my horse is doing fine without it, they probably don't need it. Again, it's a matter of money and how we look at our horses. I try to let mine be horses as much as possible. Why push a panic button before anything goes wrong. But that's just me. So don't take it personal.

I am with you on riding though. When it's so hot I can barely move, there's no way I would ask my horses to do any kind of work. I just thank my lucky stars I don't show on regional circuit anymore chasing points for yearend awards. In this heat that would be almost like trying to commit suicide.

Thanks for posting. I enjoyed what you have to say even though we seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids [Smile][Wink].
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#4
It's been my experience that a wet horse seems to attract MORE flies at first. I've also read and it does make sense than in extremely hot & humid weather that a wet coat can actually keep the heat in. Moisture doesn't evaporate as fast in humid weather so it's like being under a warm wet blanket. It is hot & humid here and I just gave Joe a bath but he's now under the shed with a fan blowing on him.

Fresh clean water is IMO the MOST important one thing that can be done to help not only horses but all animals through this heatwave. I dump & fill the tub morning & evening. I'm with you, Walk, I'm not going to ride in this weather as much for Joe's sake as mine. I did the dehydration/heat exhaustion thing a few years ago and it's NOT fun.

Those that do work their horses might want to think about electrolytes to replace what is sweated out.

If a horse is getting too hot, you can spray or sponge the large vessels under the neck, belly & legs with cool/cold water. If it's an emergency you can mix 50/50 alcohol & water and sponge that on the vessels as well.

Making sure the barn is ventilated well is critical when it's this hot. Open up the doors & get fans to help move the air.

Lets just hope the weather breaks soon and the humidity drops! I think we all tolerate the heat better than the humidity.
Karen ~ Trails  
  &
Joe Paint Gelding
Paoli, IN

"My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sun and neigh in the night."
[Image: th_horse-galloping.gif]  

~~~~~~
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#5
Redhawk, I thought you were asking for input on how to keep horses comfortable and healthy during the heat of the summer months? WTW gave some great suggestions. Maybe you should try harder to play nicely!! We do want people to come play with us don't we?

Hosing horses down, scraping the water off until they are just damp and putting under fans to dry is a great way of dealing with the heat. I also like the idea of feeding garlic and extra vitamin E. It strengthens immune systems as well as deterring flies. If you work on keeping a strong immune system - in horses and people - then you won't have any problems to contend with down the way. It is called being pro-active. Everyone stays healthy, and if they do catch a bug it ends up being very minor and little owies heal up quickly.

WTW - have you ever thought of adding apple cider vinegar to the garlic?

Our horses, well they come in at night. They do have big insulated stalls and 2x3 foot window in each stall. There is a large center aisle with big doors at each end, so there is normally a breeze and the barn does stay reasonably cool. The arena is attached to the barn and provides shade and that is where they mostly hang out all the time. We have now had a couple weeks of 95 - 100 degree weather and everyone seems to be coping well. Heck, we put in 530 bales of hay and 120 bales of straw during this time frame and we survived. Smile But I do make an effort to keep our immune systems strong and healthy.
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#6
Fern> Excellent points! I'd much rather keep something from happening before it causes a problem. I just wish I'd followed my philosophy prior to Joe's laminitis. Now, I'm dealing with extra farrier visits, meds for pain, meds for the meds for pain and lots of worrying not to mention Joe's distress and pain.

One good thing that has come out of this is the discovery of Platinum Performance. He's only been on it a couple of weeks but I've seen a difference in his coat which I thought was fine before. He absolutely gleams now. It's hard to tell if his movement has immproved due to it or if he would be at the same place as he is now without it. I do know that since he started it, his movement has gotten better. He still takes some choppy steps at times but doesn't act like it's his joints at this point.

Joe has a fly mask on most of the year since his uveitis attacks. It reduces the glare from snow, acts as sunglasses in the summer and keeps wind from hitting his eyes as well as bugs and other stuff in the air. I hope I didn't just jinx us but he hasn't had any problems for a couple of years now.

Prevention is always better than the cure.

Karen ~ Trails  
  &
Joe Paint Gelding
Paoli, IN

"My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sun and neigh in the night."
[Image: th_horse-galloping.gif]  

~~~~~~
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#7
There are a lot of good suggestions here. I'm careful to keep my water buckets and stock tank full, because there are sometimes power outages as the temps climb, and when I have no electricity, it means I also have no water!

Another thing I do is to keep loose salt available. A horse often won't be able to get enough salt from a block when it gets as hot as it is now.

My horses are out in the daytime and in at night. They do each have fans for when they are inside.

No riding for me, either!

EZ2SPOT
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#8
Mrs. Hook, I did try ACV at one point but two of the four don't like the smell or the taste; the third one get the runny bums at the mere mention of ACV; and the fourth one - well - he is a wino and would drink a whole gallon if I let him but I decided I wasn't messing with it for one horse. He's the horse that sweats like someone turned the water hose on him anyway - lol

My barn is only 20 x 40 (Mr. WTW needed a BIG workshop so he could fix everything when I break itSmile. The hay is in the horse barn, along with four stalls and a tiny kitchen area.

It gets so hot in the daytime that all the fans do is push hot air around, so the horses are better off outside. They have shade all over the place but prefer to stand in the blistering sun most of the day[?]

Two of them are in their mid-20's and one of those is insulin resistant, so even though I sound pretty cavalier, I'm not - I worry a lot -lol

Paintgal, have you heard of the Guardian Mask? A friend of mine said they work good. They are very expensive and she holds her breath every day that her horse doesn't rip it apart on a tree branch or fence post.

http://www.horsemask.com/Main.html

I think there might be another one on the market that is a little cheaper; I'd have to ask her.
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#9
quote:
Originally posted by walkinthewalk

Mrs. Hook, I did try ACV at one point but two of the four don't like the smell or the taste; the third one get the runny bums at the mere mention of ACV; and the fourth one - well - he is a wino and would drink a whole gallon if I let him but I decided I wasn't messing with it for one horse. He's the horse that sweats like someone turned the water hose on him anyway - lol

My barn is only 20 x 40 (Mr. WTW needed a BIG workshop so he could fix everything when I break itSmile. The hay is in the horse barn, along with four stalls and a tiny kitchen area.

It gets so hot in the daytime that all the fans do is push hot air around, so the horses are better off outside. They have shade all over the place but prefer to stand in the blistering sun most of the day[?]

Two of them are in their mid-20's and one of those is insulin resistant, so even though I sound pretty cavalier, I'm not - I worry a lot -lol

Paintgal, have you heard of the Guardian Mask? A friend of mine said they work good. They are very expensive and she holds her breath every day that her horse doesn't rip it apart on a tree branch or fence post.

http://www.horsemask.com/Main.html

I think there might be another one on the market that is a little cheaper; I'd have to ask her.



I have looked at those masks and almost got one right after his first episode. So far so good although I about fainted when I went to feed last night! He had gotten the mask off and his eye was watering. By the time I fed, cleaned the stalls & ran fresh water, his eye was swollen, dripping tears and he was rubbing it. I have the eye meds on hand at the house so started them right then. He'd had a gram of bute with supper so I didn't want to give Banamine. I went back about 9 to apply more ointment and the eye looked much better...open, not running and it didn't seem to bother him and looks fine this morning. Don't know what the issue was!

When I remodeled part of the machine shed into the horse barn, I wanted as much air flow as possible and when I open the sliding doors in the alley way, if there is any breeze at all it does seem to go through where they stand. Like you said though, with these temps it just moves hot air but Joe & the donks stand in the back away from the flies so that's where the fan is too.

They do use it during the day when they didn't use a smaller shed that was theirs at one time. They'd stand outside in the sun all day every day rather than go inside. My neighbors horses have several shade trees to get under but no...they stand in a corner of the pasture in the blazing sun all day.

How did you determine the one was insulin resistant? A couple of people have mentioned that maybe Joe is. Do you feed him differently?
Karen ~ Trails  
  &
Joe Paint Gelding
Paoli, IN

"My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sun and neigh in the night."
[Image: th_horse-galloping.gif]  

~~~~~~
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#10
Great posts everyone [Smile].

But I am curious about something. When I was showing at the ApHC Nationals in '94 & '96 in OKC, the wash racks were always busy anywhere on the grounds, and not just for washing. Most of the time it was to keep the horses cool by hosing them with water in the 100 degree F+ heat.
On the news the last few days, 4Her's spray livestock several times a day to keep them cool too.
I picked up the hint about drenching fly masks in water in a major horse magazine, also as a way to keep horses cool in extreme heat and humidity.

And yet it's now considered dangerous? Or did I misunderstand? If I'm wrong in my thinking, I want to know when I see things like this even today. After all I was only trying to help by offering a few simple tips. Should I not be doing these things?

I guess I should add that my horses have free choice salt too. I also keep them out at night. It's cooler out there in weather like this than in the barn... even at night. BUT they stay in the arena (just an oversized dry lot right next to the barn).
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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