Before you head to the pool this summer, give a thought to your horse as she stands in the sun. She needs some extra care to keep her happy and healthy in the summer months.
Here are some things you can do to make sure your horse is comfortable in hot weather.
1. You still have to deworm your horse in the summer. Talk to your vet about which dewormer is appropriate in your area during the summer months. Cut down on worms and flies by picking up piles of manure in your horse’s field and placing them on a muckheap.
2. Don’t roach (clip off) your horse’s mane in the summer. She needs her mane to swish away flies. The same goes for her tail. Don’t cut it any shorter than her hocks. She needs it for fly protection.
3. If your horse sweats a lot in the field, bring her into the barn a few times a week and give her a quick shower with the hose to wash off the dirt and sweat on her body. Dried sweat attracts flies and you don’t want them “bugging” your horse.
4. Horses with white markings on their faces can get sunburn—especially around their noses and muzzles. The white markings peel and get sore. Prevent sunburn before it happens by using human sun lotion with a high UV protection rating. Protect white markings around the eyes by putting a dark fly mask on your horse.
5. Check your horse’s water trough every day to make sure she’s drinking water. When it’s hot, she needs to drink lots of water to stay healthy.
If you don’t think she’s drinking enough water, put electrolytes (minerals that encourage a horse to drink) in her feed and make sure the water trough is full. You can buy electrolytes at a feed store. They usually come in powder form and mix easily into feed. Remember to read the instructions on the tub.
6. If your horse is barefoot, her hooves may split during the dry summer months. If her feet look bad, schedule your farrier more frequently so she can trim the hoof and rasp smooth any cracks.
7. Always keep a salt block in the field so your horse can lick it when she wants. Salt encourages a horse to drink more water and should be available in her field all year round.
8. Does your favorite horse have enough shade in her field? If she doesn’t have any trees to stand under, you should have a run-in shed where she can go to escape the sun.
9. Many people bring their horses inside during the day in the summer to protect them from flies. Before you trap your horse in a stall all day, put a flysheet on her and see how she copes with the flies. She’d much rather be outside wandering around, nibbling on grass, than stuck in a stall for eight hours.
10. If your horse’s eyes get really gunky during the summer, wipe them clean every day with a damp sponge and put a fly mask on your horse during the day. Take the mask off every night so it never has the chance to rub her. Some masks have ear covers, too. If your horse manages to escape her mask (as many do!) on a regular basis, use roll-on fly repellent around her eyes.