How Can I Keep My Horse Safe in Hot and Humid Conditions?

Heat and humidity are some of the major determinants when it comes to how hard you can work or ride your horse. Keep in mind that your horse sweats twice as much as you do in hot conditions, so you might want to go easy on them. The best way for your horse to cool off is by sweating a lot, getting relief as the sweat evaporates from its skin. However when the air is humid the sweat does not evaporate quickly, something that leads to discomfort and possible overheating.

How do I know that my horse has been exposed to too much heat and humidity?
When you have a horse, it is always wise to know your his normal temperature. This will give you a very reliable source of information when you need to know whether your horse needs some cooling off. The thermometer readings will be abnormally high. When in the middle of a work session your horse shows signs of:

-Being uncomfortable by kicking or whinnying.
-General weakness or a slight stagger when he walks.
-A reduction in his performance levels i.e he seems less enthusiastic.
-Being overly dull or depressed.
-An increased rate in the heartbeat or rapid breathing.
These are signs that you need to back off and allow your horse to recuperate! There are extreme symptoms that show a serious lack of water in the system. Here are some quick ways to tell that your horse is actually dehydrated.
- When you pinch the horse's flat part of his neck it should immediately bounce back. If the skin takes longer than a second then you must immediately take action because if the condition continues a vet may even have to intervene. A dehydrated horse could actually collapse and die.
-The horse's gums should always be moist and pink. If they look dry and pale, your horse has been overexposed to the elements.

How can I protect my horse from heat and humidity?
As much as you might want to keep the horse indoors all day, horses actually need exercise to let off steam and to keep fit. It would be quite helpful however if you learnt to regulate the activities so you do not end up causing more harm than good.

Keep the workload as light as possible. Do not ride your horse as hard as you would when the temperatures are a bit cooler.

Choose a time when the sun is not glaring in its full glory. This means you can work your horse in the early morning hours or late evenings after the heat and humidity levels have lowered a bit.

Ride in a sheltered area where there is ample shade for example in the woods or if possible, in enclosed arena. Proper air circulation is very vital. Provide water for cooling off. You may even need to splash a bit of water on your horse to help him cool off faster after a ride.

When a horse sweats, it also loses a lot of sodium and chloride. Adding electrolytes to its water or feed will replenish the necessary minerals quickly. One of the ways to encourage your horse to drink is by adding a bit of apple juice or molasses to its water. There must also be an option of fresh water for the horse to have a choice.

As much as both you and your horse might be enjoying the regular work or riding routines, sometimes it is up to you to make a wise judgement when the heat and humidity conditions are too high. It would for example be a great time to do some grooming exercises and let the horse rest. Do not risk your horse's health by being overly rigid in your work schedules. Moderation is your best approach in these extreme weather conditions!

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