Hot Weather Considerations

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We’re at the start of summer and the temperatures have already hit record highs in some places. The high temperatures can impact your horse’s health, especially if they have any issues or if you compete. The key to making it through the hot weather is knowing your horse’s health, good planning, and diligent maintenance.

While fans are the choice of many owners to keep their horse’s cool, there are a few things to consider when using fans in your barn on a regular basis throughout the summer.

One is that fans are one of the top contributors to barn fires. If you use fans in your barn, make sure you check the wiring and clean them on a regular basis.

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Another thing to consider when using fans is conditioning of your horse, especially if you’re showing or trail riding. When you’re showing in the arena, out on a course or trail, your horse isn’t under a fan Additionally, depending on the venue, you may not have access to a fan or shade while you’re at your trailer waiting on your class.  If your horse is used to being under a fan all day they may struggle in the heat without a fan because they’re conditioned to being cooler.

TOADIE SHOW

Last, consider the ventilation in your barn. Good air flow is important during hot weather. If your barn does not have good ventilation, you’ll want to consider using a fan to keep the air flowing through your barn, especially if you have a metal barn roof without insulation as they tend to heat up even more.

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Adding electrolytes to the water or feed and keeping salt available are the two top tips for hot weather. While both do help a horse stay hydrated, there are a couple of things to consider.

If your horse is not drinking enough water, you’ll want to be careful about adding salt to their feed. If a horse isn’t drinking, there’s usually a reason behind it such as their gut being irritated. Horses with issues may still not drink even with the additional salt and can wind up dehydrated from the additional salt.

One thing to consider when adding electrolytes is whether you’re feeding a complete feed. Some feeds already have salt and electrolytes in them. Feeding additional electrolytes can cause an imbalance which results in “Thumps”. When an imbalance occurs, dehydrated can quickly escalate.

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Three year old mare at her first ranch clinic fall of 2013.

Wetting your horse’s feed down or adding soaked alfalfa cubes or beet pulp is a great way to help keep your horse hydrated, especially if they’re not drinking as much as they should be. Not only will it help your horse stay hydrated, but it’s a good colic preventative as well.

If you’re committed to competing throughout the summer, be sure to keep your horse conditioned and acclimated to the heat. If they’re in good condition and used to the warm temperatures, they’ll have an easier time adjusting on show days. Talk with your vet about your horse’s health and develop a game plan for your region to keep your horse ready to compete.

What are your plans for riding this summer? How are you going to help your horse stay healthy through the heat?

 

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Tips To Beat The Heat

Competing with horses during the summer can be a pain, not to mention dangerous for both horse and rider. High temperatures, especially when combined with high humidity can easily cause death due to dehydration or heat stroke. The key to staying healthy is planning and preparation.

Bringing a cooler filled with water is only a small part of planning for hot weather shows and rodeos. Good solid preparation actually starts several days before and includes a lot more than water.

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If you normally don’t drink enough water, drinking water the day of your event may not be sufficient enough to keep you hydrated. If you’re already at a deficit, it will be much harder to re-hydrate your body once you get hot and over-heat. It’s a good idea to start loading up on water at least a day or two prior to make your body is sufficiently hydrated.

While I’m not a fan of sugar, I do believe some sports drinks can be beneficial due to added nutrients like potassium, sodium, and magnesium which help with muscle function. Be sure to compare sugar levels, and other ingredients like artificial sweeteners when choosing a sports drink. Also, some brands of water such as Smart Water and others, have electrolytes mixed in.

Just like loading up on water a few days ahead, it’s also a good idea to load up on good nutrition as well. Eating enough protein and fat will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep your energy levels up. The day of the competition, you’ll want to make sure you eat an adequate breakfast to keep you going throughout the day.

Even though food may be available at the event, take the extra time to pack some snacks that will help to fuel your energy levels. Nuts, jerky, protein bars and shakes are all easy options to take along. Whatever you decide to bring, make sure it’s packed full of protein and is as natural as possible.

Just a personal belief of mine, but I think that conditioning to the heat is as important as conditioning our horses. If we sit around under the air conditioning all the time and then wait until the coolest part of the day to ride, we’re not going to be prepared if we have to ride our horses in the middle of the day.

You don’t want to put you or your horse at risk by riding hard when it’s too hot to ride, but at the same time you don’t want to always wait until it’s the coolest time of day to work your horses.  Small things driving home with the window rolled down, or spending more time outside can help. Some common sense and progressive exposure will go a long ways towards building some heat tolerance.

With some planning and preparation, you can make your show or rodeo season go a lot smoother. By taking the time to eat well, loading up on liquids, and conditioning yourself to the heat, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying your event safely.

What are some things you struggle with during summer time rodeos or shows? What steps have you taken to beat the heat?

Client Horses At A Barrel Race