Dare I say the sun seems to be making an appearance this weekend, as the weather warms up it's worth keeping in mind we aren't the only ones that will be getting hot and bothered. I'm so pleased that our horses are finally getting to have more time outside with the sun on their backs so I've put together a few tips for keeping our horses hydrated and happy over summer! The photo is Denver who was very happy when he got to have a naked roll when I took his rug off on Monday! Jess Timmins x
- Water supply - A constant supply of fresh clean water is essential! When was the last time you emptied and cleaned out the troughs/drinkers in your field or scrubbed the buckets in the stable? On a warm day horses can easily drink double their normal amount of water so make sure there is always plenty available, if troughs are running dry before being refilled horses will drink even more and it will run out even quicker, as well as causing more competition in the field which could lead to injury.
- Water sources - In fields it is best to make sure there is more than one source available so that horses who may be lower down the pecking order don't get bullied away from a single source of water on a hot day.
- Salts and electrolytes - On hot days and especially when our horses are sweating they will need salt replacing. Having a salt lick available at all times is a good idea although if horses are sweating it is wise to supplement salt in their feed as well. (Shetlands - 1 teaspoon, ponies - 1 dessert spoon, horses - 1 tablespoon!) Standard table salt is absolutely fine to use. Electrolytes can be useful too but make sure they are palatable and not putting your horse off drinking - if you aren't sure provide a bucket of normal water next to the one with electrolytes and monitor which is being drunk.
- Getting out and about - This time of year lots of us are taking our horses out, they may be less likely to drink from strange water supplies so always keep a home supply in your transport. This is also essential in case of emergency/breakdown. It's easy to forget how hard work travelling can be for our horses, I would always consider travelling to be 'exercise' for our horses and adjust diet and ridden work accordingly whilst ensuring they are drinking enough.
- Shelter and ventilation - Does your field have shelter available throughout the day? Hedges and trees can provide good cover if a physical shelter is not available. During the hottest part of the day keeping your horse in the stable may be a better option providing is it well ventilated, squat down to the stable floor and take a few deep breaths, the air should be cool and clean!
- Changing feeds - If you are planning on riding or taking your horse out then adding a sloppy feed can be a good way of increasing water intake beforehand, something like sugar beet or mash that can be soaked down nicely and add extra water!
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion - Inevitably their will be situations when our horses aren't coping well with the weather. Look out for increased breathing rate or effort, nostrils flaring, dullness, decreased appetite, dry gums, dark coloured urine, raised temperature (typically I would consider above 38.5 to be raised but this may be lower if your horse has a low 'normal' temperature). If you are worried give us a call straight away for advice.
I hope everyone gets to do something fun with their horses this weekend and I hope you found the blog helpful 🙂 Jess Timmins x