Hot Temperatures and Horseback Riding
If summertime is good for one thing, it’s hot temperatures. You probably want to enjoy those bright, hot summer days by riding your horse and taking in some sunshine. The only issue is that this weather isn’t great for your beloved horses. They aren’t designed to tolerate hot weather, so what you view as an enjoyable day riding around a pasture can actually be quite dangerous. The good news is that as long as you treat your horse properly after your ride (and go for shorter jaunts that you normally would), everything will be all right.
Horses Can’t Regulate Their Body Heat
Horses aren’t like humans. Yes, they sweat in hot weather much as we do, but their sweat is less effective at cooling them down. Even the smallest change in body temperature can lead to heat stress. The average body temperature of a horse is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When that goes up to 105.8 degrees F, as it would after you take it out for a ride on a hot day, the proteins in their muscle begin to cook themselves. If this goes on long enough, heat stress can occur, which leads to hypotension (low blood pressure) and even kidney failure.
Why do horses have such problems with hot weather? Well, their bodies are made of much more muscle than that of humans. When those muscles are used, they produce plenty of heat. Add in the fact that a horses’ sweat is three times less effective at cooling them down, not to mention the hair on their bodies, and you begin to understand how easily they overheat.
What You Need To Do
Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your horse stays in cool during hot weather – even if you decide to take it for a ride. The number one thing on that list is to ride during the times of the day when the weather is cooler. This includes early mornings and later in the evenings. Avoid taking your horse out during mid-day when the sun (and the temperature) is at its peak.
On top of this, you do need to ensure that your horse stays hydrated. Some vets recommend training your horse to drink a special electrolyte solution that’s been mixed with water. This will replenish some of the salts that they lose on hot days. Horses lose salt at a rate that’s four times that of humans; just giving them plain water doesn’t replenish these mineral stores.
Also, you need to take the time to cool your horse down properly after riding it. This is done with a hose or bucket of cool water and your hands. Spray or dump the cold water on your horse and then quickly scrape it off with your hands. Make sure to do this several times in a row until you feel your horse begins to cool down. You always want to remove the water after you’ve applied it to your horse, or else it will get caught up in your horses’ hair and actually make them even hotter. If you can do this in the shade or where there’s a cool breeze, then it will work even better.
As you can see, you can ride your horse in hot weather. Just make sure to replenish its electrolytes and do whatever you can to help it cool down afterward.