Equestrian Tropical Tips to Stay Cool This Summer
Keeping yourself and your horse cool in the summer months is vital to your training success. We’ve got you covered with 13 tips and some of our favorite products to help you make sure you and your horse are healthy and happy during the hottest part of the year.
1. Ride Inside
If you have a covered arena or indoor arena, ride inside during the heat of the day. Leave the outdoor rides for the early mornings and late evenings. If you must ride outside during the heat of the day, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
Make sure your horse has access to water throughout the day and after riding. Equus Magazine has an excellent veterinarian-approved guide to how much water a horse should drink and when after exercising.
Installing an automatic watering system to your horse’s stall ensures your horse can drink his fill. You won’t have to worry about manually refilling buckets as long as you make sure automatic watering systems are working properly on a regular basis.
If your horse is not drinking enough water, you may want to install a salt lick in his stall if he does not already have one. Salt licks will provide him with important minerals and encourage him to drink more water to stay hydrated.
Electrolyte supplements are also very beneficial for horses who are hard at work in the heat, replacing the electrolytes your horse loses through sweating.
3. Switch Up the Schedule
Don’t be afraid to cancel an outdoor lesson on the hottest days of the summer. Days off from training are important for both you and your horse. Have some fun and keep your horse interested in work with some variety. Take a shaded trail ride with friends, head to the beach, or take your horses swimming to get a little exercise and stay out of the heat. Just make sure your horse is traveling off-site in a well-ventilated trailer.
If you can’t leave the barn, spend a day grooming, washing, trick training, or cleaning tack. There’s plenty to be done around the barn and many ways to bond with your horse besides riding in the heat!
4. Dress Accordingly
Darker colors absorb more heat. Wear lighter colors and use light colored saddle pads and ear bonnets to minimize how hot you and your horse become while riding. Lighter colored, ventilated gloves are especially helpful if your hands tend to get too hot.
If you are riding in competitions, check to see if the judge has waived coats due to heat. There is no use riding in a heavy black jacket in the heat of the summer if you are not being judged on whether you match traditional standards for competition attire.
Riding with a helmet visor and ventilated helmet can also keep your face out of the sun and your head from getting too hot. Sun protective, sweat-wicking clothing is vital! If you want to see Equinavia’s summer clothing picks, check out our website!
5. Lighten the Load
On the hottest days, work lightly, take frequent breaks, and end training a bit early, making sure to take adequate time to cool down so your horse doesn’t overheat. Walk after your lessons until he is no longer breathing hard and has stopped sweating. One way you can check if a horse is still too hot is by placing your hand on your horse’s chest between the front legs. You can always be sure by taking your horse’s temperature if you are concerned.
6. Barn Fans
If your barn has poor ventilation or no air conditioning, you will probably want to install a fan in your horse’s stall and in the cross ties. Make sure that you have picked a suitable barn fan that does not have electrical cords that could pose fire hazards in dry, hay-stocked barns. Portable wireless fans are recommended for stable use. Installing a fan in the arena is another excellent way to stay cool if you ride indoors without air conditioning.
7. Hose Your Horse Down Twice if Needed
After working, hosing your horse will lower his body temperature rapidly. You may want to hose your horse a second time if the animal is still too hot after the first round.
Using a sweat-scraper to remove excess water if you plan on hosing the horse down twice is important, as excess water from the first round will heat up, and can prevent the second round of cold water from being as effective. Be sure to hose under the stomach and chest and behind the tail so that every part of the horse has had water applied directly to it and that the sweat has washed off.
Afterwards, make sure your horse is adequately dry before putting him away in his stall so that he does not begin to heat back up again in the hot barn.
8. Ice Your Horse’s Legs
Injured horses often have their legs iced, but there is no reason why you can’t ice a healthy horse’s legs on a hot summer day to help speed along the cooling process after training. Here are our favorite ice wraps!
This one may sound silly, but some horses can get sunburned too! If your horse has pink skin around his nose and under eyes, you can apply certain sunscreens to your horse’s exposed skin to prevent him from getting sunburned. Zinc Oxide sunscreen is safe for horses and is frequently used to protect those white-nosed beach-goers. Horses can be allergic to many conventional sunscreen brands with their fancy scents and chemical make-up, so make sure you are buying something natural and hose-safe.
10. Fly Control
Fly masks and fly sheets are vital to keeping the flies off in the summer months. If your horse can’t manage to keep a fly mask on in turnout, you might want to try a fly veil, which provides fly protection, without covering the entire face with mesh, and can prove to be more comfortable and cooler. It is incredibly lightweight and perfect for hot, humid summers.
11. Clipping Coats
Get ready to dig your favorite pair of clippers out of winter storage, because clipping your horse can be a summer activity too! Giving a horse that’s prone to overheating a full body clip can make it easier for him to regulate his body temperature in the heat and humidity of summer. This will reduce sweating and make it easier to hose out sweat and cool him down after training sessions.
12. Soak the Lining of your Helmet
Before you ride, you may want to dampen the lining of your helmet or the inner padding with cold water to help keep your head cool while you ride. This can encourage you to wear a helmet and protect your head even in the summer humidity and heat.
13. Hose Down your Jumping Vest
If you wear a protective jumping vest when you ride, it may be beneficial to hose it down before you start your lesson or head out on your cross country rounds. Like soaking your helmet lining, it will cool you as you ride. Ice vests, which are designed specifically to keep your body temperature down while riding, are also excellent options.
If you do not ride in a vest, you might want to throw a long-sleeve riding shirt in the washer on a rinse and spin cycle before you leave for the barn so that it is slightly damp when you ride. As the water evaporates, your body temperature will cool down. This is a lifesaver for any summer lesson. Just try not to over-soak your vest or shirt to the point where it is dripping because it will soak into the rest of your clothing. No one likes clingy wet riding pants, and the water can damage your saddles.
We hope you and your horse have a happy healthy summer! Good luck beating the heat!
How do you help your horse stay cool in the summer months? How do you stay cool? Help each other out and share your tips in the comments!
Featured Image by Johannes Plenio