For many, summer is the most beautiful time of the year – but when it comes to horse care you have to pay more attention than usual. You can find out here what exactly you have to pay attention to and how to properly care for your horse in summer.
Horse Care in the Paddock
Of course, a pasture also offers optimal conditions for your horse in summer. There is sufficient freedom of movement here. It can let the wind blow around its nostrils and decide for itself where the most pleasant place to graze or doze is at the moment.
However, days of grazing quickly become torture without a place to shelter. Nordic horse breeds, black horses, or animals with little long hair, in particular, suffer from the blazing sun. However, this is not only uncomfortable and sweaty, but it can also be really dangerous. Sunburn, sunstroke, and overheating also pose serious health risks for horses. It is therefore essential to have a shady spot that offers sufficient protection from the sun for all grazing horses. Shelters or trees with broad crowns provide shade, for example. Alternatively, you can quickly create an airy shelter with four wooden stakes and sun sail. Another positive side effect is that the plague of flies is also limited here, as insects tend to avoid shady places.
Many riding stables do not have suitable pastures. For this reason, many owners go into the summer months either to bring their horses into the cool stables during lunchtime hours. Alternatively, the grazing time is completely shifted to the much more pleasant night hours.
It is important, of course, that there is always enough water available, especially in summer. Like us humans, horses regulate their body temperature by sweating. You must always be able to regain the fluid that has been lost. If there are no self-watering facilities and the water is offered in tubs or buckets, it must be checked regularly whether there is still enough water available. And make sure that this does not tip over in direct sunlight. It is also important that the horses are offered a mineral lick stone in the paddock and in the stable: sweating can not only lead to a loss of moisture but also a loss of salt.
Stable Housing in Summer
Regardless of whether the horse is in the stable during day or night. Here are a few requirements to meet so that the boxing stay does not turn into torture. This means that the stable must always be airy, cool, light (of course during the day), and cleanly manured. The latter is particularly important in summer because badly cleaned boxes build up the stale air. Ammonia gas, which is harmful to health, is produced: therefore open windows and allow air to circulate. But watch out for drafts!
A popular trick: you can sprinkle the stable lane with a watering can or a garden hose during the day. The resulting evaporative cooling can not only lower the temperature by a few degrees but also limit unpleasant dust.
Riding in the Heat
Of course, as a rider, you have to ensure that the horse gets enough exercise even in summer. You certainly don’t want to go without swinging on your pet’s back for months. Here, too, there are a few things to consider to protect the horse. Working under the saddle in summer can cause serious circulatory stress.
Always keep in mind that horses overheat up to ten times faster than humans. So just because you don’t find it too warm to ride a bit doesn’t necessarily apply to your horse. Especially on warm and humid days and after a sweaty workout in the stuffy hall or even in the blazing sun, you risk your darling’s circulatory collapse quickly.
Therefore, be considerate of your horse and use the cool morning and evening hours for training. This applies to work in the saddle, but also to groundwork. If you can’t take advantage of these cooler times of the day, you should consider a more relaxed forest ride than sweaty dressage or jumping training. And always allow your horse enough recovery phases here, too.
This of course also applies to planned tournament weekends, where horse and rider should perform as best as possible regardless of the weather. You are responsible for your mount and you have to decide for its well-being. Are you going to start despite the hot temperatures and can you trust him to cope with the circulatory stress?
Horse Care After Training
Even if you stick to this advice and have refrained from hard training. Your horse will still have sweated after the work is done, and not too scarcely. The loss of 20 liters of sweat during a training session is not uncommon for our four-legged friends in summer.
What could be nicer than a refreshing hosing down (by the way, the technical term for showering the horse) after the work is done? But here, too, a few things have to be considered. In the beginning, it is important that you do not put your horse under the cold water immediately after the end of the training. Ride it dry first and give it the opportunity to regenerate a little in the shade.
When this has happened, ideally you use lukewarm water to hose off. Coldwater is not good for the muscles after training and releases tension. Also, take enough time to shower so that your horse and its cardiovascular system can slowly get used to the cool water.
Make sure that you should always start from top to bottom on the hindquarters: first, spray off the hooves and then slowly work your way up, but only to the point where the leg merges with the body, i.e. the stomach. Then switch to the front legs and do the same there. Only when all four legs have been hosed down can you work your way across the chest and body to the back, croup, and neck.
After the whole horse’s body has cooled down and freed from sweat, you should peel off the fur with a sweat knife so that it can dry better. This happens afterward, either when drying or relaxing in the sun (be careful not to overheat here either). It is important that your horse only comes into the cool stable when it is completely dry.
As a rider, you must also note that you should clean your saddle equipment more often in summer, as the leather of the saddle equipment as well as saddlecloths and blankets are exposed to much more sweat. If you do not remove these sweat encrustations and residues, they can rub uncomfortably during the next use, leading to pressure points or even saddle pressure.
If you follow the rules and principles for horse care presented and do not expect too much from your horse in high temperatures and on sunny days, then summer happiness is perfect and both you and your darling can enjoy and savor the summer months to the full!