Before you go away on holidays (and hopefully arrange for someone to look after your horses), here are some things to consider for your horse’s comfort and well being during the hotter months.
Access to shade and fresh water at all times:
These are basic necessesities no horse should be deprived of but sadly many are. If your paddock has no natural shade, provide some in the form of a shelter shed, shade cloth structure or make a lane to a place there is shade.
Fresh, cool water is vital so make sure the supply can’t fail like automatic waterers do and buckets that can be tipped over. As dams dry up, make sure horses can still reach water without getting stuck in mud.
Watch grass intake: Especially in areas where there is a high rainfall and it stays lush. Sugars are higher in the grass during the day so if you need to restrict intake, let them out on grass during the cool of the night. Be aware that stressed grass can produce toxins that cause laminitis so don’t put horses onto a freshly cut hay paddock or on pasture with a green flush after rain following long dry periods.
Protect pink skin on the nose: Horses sunburn too and white markings on the face often result in sore, crusty areas that are painful and can lead to cancer.
Protection with a sunscreen for horses such as ‘Filtabac’ (available from Horseland or your vet) is one that stays on well and helps heal sores too.
If you need to use a fly mask there are designs with inbuilt nose protectors or if you attatch one to a halter, make sure it will easily break if caught on something. Providing adequate shade also helps.
Filtabac is also an excellent treatment for mud fever/greasy heel if used daily.
Protect them from bothersome flies: Again, shade areas help as flies prefer bright light. Bot flies won’t follow horses into sheds or very dark shaded areas.
Find a good fly repellant and wipe it on as often as necessary. (see Product Review Page for a good one)
Remove bot eggs frequently in an area that the horses don’t eat from to reduce worm burdens and the spread of bots.
No rugs: Allow your horse to regulate their own body temperature and repel insects by rolling in dust.
Exercise in the cool hours: Horses are like us, they get lethargic when its hot so get up early or ride late to make the most of the cooler hours, expecially for strenuous exercise.
Allow access to salt and minerals: If you have them freely available, your horse will take what it needs to replace those lost in sweat. Lumps of natural rock salt are ideal and a mix of dolomite, seaweed meal and garlic will keep your horse healthy.
Soak hooves before trimming: Either make a footbath or use soaking boots to make the trimming easier and give your horse hoof mositure in very dry times.
Take care when transporting: When its hot, the inside of horse floats and trucks can be stifling. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation and when you stop, open all doors and windows to make up for lost airflow.
If your horse has a long distance to travel, ensure they will drink water by adding molasses at home to train them to drink any water. Molasses is also a natural electrolyte but you may need to give a supplement as well. Don’t put rugs on travelling horses unless they need protection from rain.