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Beat the Heat: Summer Tips

by Pennwoods Ambassador, Rene Tiffin

Summer heat is upon us and you’re not alone if you are left frustrated with how to help your horse stay safe without losing fitness and riding time!  Here are a list of ways to continue on during the hot summer months:

1 – Hydrate Efficiently

    Always give your horse constant access to clean, fresh water.  Horses prefer cooler water, between 45 and 75 degrees, so try to keep your water in a shaded area where they have easy access and don’t have to leave their favourite hangout spot to get it.  Algae also grows quickly in heat and sunlight and your buckets need to be dumped and scrubbed more often.  At Stoney Gate Farm, we use smaller outdoor water tubs and scrub daily. 

2 – Support with Electrolytes

    A quality electrolyte will encourage your horse to drink more water and will replenish lost stores from sweating.  They also allow better muscle recovery after a workout.  Pennwoods Super H2O is a good option and they make it a powder for top dressing and a paste.  The paste can be helpful if your horse is a picky eater or if you want to top them up before travel or a competition.

3 – Night Turnout

    Turnout is crucial for horse’s mental and physical health.  When summer heat hits, the days stuck inside can be feel endless, contributing to a myriad of health and behavioural problems.  Switching to night turnout is one of the best changes you can make to conserve energy and allow longer turnout hours.

4 – Travel Safely

    When trailering, try to travel during the coolest parts of the day by leaving early in the morning or late evening.  If your travel is going to take a full day, plan your route to avoid being stuck in traffic during the afternoon, when it’s hottest.  Always take water with you and offer your horse a drink every couple hours.  

5 – Acclimate to Heat

    While you should be avoiding riding in extreme weather and the hottest parts of the day, that doesn’t mean you have to give up working entirely for the summer!  You need to slowly acclimate horses to working in the heat.  It’s best to start this as the weather gradually changes, but you can still start now.  Work lightly and for short periods, gradually building up stamina over several weeks.  Keep a close eye on your horse’s breathing and heart rate during walk breaks and monitor recovery time after your workouts.  Your horse’s heart rate should fall to 70bpm or below after 5 minutes post-workout.

6 – Proper Recovery

    Allowing your horse extra time to cool out is crucial to a safe and successful recovery post-workout, as slow movement (ie walking) helps reduce heat and lactic acid in their muscles.  Hosing them with cold water will also help remove heat, but try to do so quickly between walks.  Also offer your horse a drink within five minutes of getting off – this is when they will drink the most!

7- Re-assess Your Feed Program

    Horses create an immense amount of heat from their gastrointestinal system and summer is no exception when they are grazing constantly.  Feeding a high protein diet exponentially increases the amount of heat produced.  Consider switching to a high fat diet for summer months – the Pennwoods Essential Hoof and Coat is a great high fat supplement with a double dose of Biotin.  Hooves can struggle in dry summer months, when hard dusty ground and stomping at flies is prevalent.  The best way to get and keep healthy hooves is from the inside out – feeding for success!

Thanks for reading, and please let us know if you have any questions or comments!