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How to Survive and Ride in the Extreme Heat

Well if you happen to live in the south during the summer you know that it can get a tad on the warm side. With Texas experiencing the hottest year on record since the early 80’s, trying to find creative ways to keep your horse safe and cool in the heat become a priority. I have compiled a list of safety do’s and don’ts. Common sense in the most valuable piece of info I can offer, if it is way too hot for you to be out, it’s way too hot for you to be out riding your horse.

  1. Know the signs of heat exhaustion. In horses, symptoms include weakness, stumbling, increased temperature (higher than 102°F) and elevated pulse or respiration. In serious cases, a horse may stop sweating (anhidrosis).
  2. Remember that you need to scrape off the excess water from your horse after he is hosed off. Water works as a layer of insulation holding in the heat causing the horse to over-heat faster than just plan sweating.
  3. Work your horse in shorter training sessions giving him plenty of time to air back up and cool off. Look for a shady spot to let him recover.
  4. If you are planning to ride for a longer period of time offer your horse a small drink of water throughout the training session. REMEMBER that you also need to drink.
  5. If you horse is overweight work him as little as possible in the extreme heat since layers of fat increase that amount of time it takes for the blood to make it to the surface for cooling.
  6. Provide electrolytes. Add electrolytes to your horse's water when you know he'll be working hard in the heat. Begin a few days ahead of time - electrolytes leach water from his system, and he'll need time to adjust his water intake to compensate. Offer him non-supplemented water as well, since he might not like the taste of electrolytes.
  7. If possible allow your horse to cool down in front of a fan. Air moving across a wet body will evaporate and cool your horse. A cheap box fan from the local store will do the job.
  8. Be smart and try to schedule your ride times early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperatures are at their coolest. The sun and heat levels are at their most dangerous levels from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
  9. A 50/50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle will help to cool your horse do to the evaporative nature of the alcohol.
  10. Look out for your own safety. Wear light weight and light colored clothing, drink plenty of water, apply sunscreen.

Always remember; Be Safe, Ride Hard, Have Fun - Steve Kutie