We’re getting into consistent summer weather, meaning we’ve got some hot days ahead. While you may remember to drink more water or apply sunscreen, it isn’t as easy to know what our equine friends need to stay healthy during these long summer months. Here are a few tips that should help you stay on top of your summer horse routine.
Water, Lots of Water!
Since horses are so much bigger than we are, they require a lot more HO. An average, 1,100-pound horse consumes four to nine gallons of water in a normal day. In the summer months—depending on your horse’s activity level, health, and food—this water need could double! A temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit increases the water requirement to approximately 20 gallons per day. Make sure your horse has as much as they need by changing their water every day—even if you have an automatic pump. If you’re traveling and your horse is reluctant to drink, try getting them used to a flavoring agent (such as a capful of honey). This way your horse will find new water sources still have a similar taste.
Turn Down the Heat
Summer means it’s a good time to crank down the thermostat on your horse’s body heat. As horses’ digestive tracks are hard at work breaking down their feed, they create heat. Lower-quality forage causes a horse’s digestive track to work even harder, producing much more heat. This is because the harder the bacteria in your horse’s hindgut have to work to digest their feed, the more heat they produce. By feeding your horse high quality forage, their digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard, producing less heat.
Power Your Horse’s Built-In Air Conditioning
Horses have a number of natural cooling processes they use to deal with the heat. However, these processes only work as well as the fuel you put into them. Make sure your horse has high-quality forage in their diet. A horse’s main method of heat tolerance is sweating. When your horse begins to sweat, it loses both water and electrolytes. For most horses, these can both be replaced through their feed (if the horse is undergoing intense exercise or sweating profusely, an additional electrolyte supplement may be required).
It can be difficult to find shade when you’re a horse stuck in a paddock. Avoid scheduling rides during the heat of the day, as your horse can overheat quickly because its' coat hinders sweat from evaporating. Try to only take your horse out during the morning or evening when it’s cooler. Also, make sure your horse is able to escape to a shaded area (they usually prefer a shady tree, but a barn is great too). At the end of each day, rinse off your horse so their sweat won’t attract flies.
Standlee Forage products are ideal for making sure your horse has the adequate nutritional balance they need to stay healthy during the summer. Check out some great Timothy Grass and Orchard Grass forage options to keep your horse cool at standleeforage.com under products.