** Tips for keeping your horses cool this summer **
Shade is needed to allow your horses to regulate their core body temperature. They will move in and out of the shade as required.
Horses number 1 way of controlling their body temperature is through sweat – they use evaporation to cool their skin and core body temperature. This is why it is so important to provide adequate, cool and clean water to your horses.
Providing dams and pools often work well also – some horses love to go cool themselves and cool their feet in the water.
Cold hosing a horse will help cool them down and keep them cool. However, you want to ensure you scrape off the excess water after hosing. Leaving a layer of water on their skin provides insulation, causing their skin temperature to rise.
You can repeat the hose and scrape regime as often as necessary.
You can also use cold towels, however they must be changed often as they also act as insulation.
Often this happens naturally through a cool breeze outside.
If the horses are stabled you can provide this through fans – either dry fans or misting fans. This cools the horses through convection (moving heat from one place to another via air)
5) SUN PROTECTION
Protect your horses from the harsh suns rays.
Horses with no pigment around their eyes or ears or face (“pink skin”) should have these areas covered by fly veils, etc.
Non-pigmented noses (“white/pink noses”) should have zinc or sunscreen applied daily (even twice daily). A great product for this is FILTABAC CREAM.
Sun sheets/summer rugs are great to help protect from insects and some of the suns rays. The theory is that these sheets are breathable and when they are white they reflect the suns rays. This is partially correct. However, if your horses sweat these rugs can hinder their ability to cool themselves through evaporation. Wetting these rugs down and leaving them on also hinders the horses cooling mechanisms by provide insulation. So often these are best used when there are NOT extreme conditions.
But remember – these are NOT a substitute for shade!!
Providing your horses with electrolytes during these hot days helps to replenish the salts in the horses body lost through sweat. Any horses that need to be worked around these hot days, we strongly recommend electrolyte supplementation.
And please remember to work your horses in the cool of the morning or cool of the evening – not the middle of the day.
7) WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Overweight horses have more fat insulation under their skin, making it harder for them to regulate their temperature.
This means the above points are much more important for an overweight horse. This also relates to Equine Metabolic and Cushingoid horses who often have abnormal fat distribution through their body – just one of the factors that makes them more prone to heat related conditions.
(Dr. Sabine Ware)