Help horses keep their cool when heat is on

Written by Dr. Jim White on .

Summer will soon officially arrive, bringing the challenge of managing horses during hot weath­er. Horses can acclimate to hot and humid environments. A 15-day to 21-day acclimation period is recommended for horses originat­ing from cooler or drier climates that are traveling to compete or reside in hot, humid conditions. The acclimation period results in an increased tolerance to both heat and exercise. However, acclimation does not reduce the need for close moni­toring of horses during training and competition in these environments.

To help reduce the effects of heat and keep horses comfortable, con­sider the following:

If a horse must be worked during hot and humid weather, consider adjusting your schedule to ride ear­ly in the morning or late at night. Work the horse in shade when possible, and keep the work light. Include frequent breaks that allow the horse to cool down and regain a normal respiratory rate. Do not work the horse beyond its fitness level. Watch for normal sweating. Inside the stable, create airflow, use fans and exploit the “chimney effect,” in which rising warm air forces cooler air to infiltrate through doors, windows or other openings. Provide access to cool, clean water at all times and offer water fre­quently during work.