Hot Weather

Many of us are in the midst of a heatwave, the likes of which have never been seen in my life time. As much as I appreciate the warm weather after such a cold winter, it’s becoming too hot to handle! Dealing with horses in extreme temperatures isn’t something I normally have to deal with at my yard. But the last three weeks we’ve had temperatures up to 28°C (83 Fahrenheit) all day long! Normally 15°C (59 Fahrenheit) would be considered a warm day here. These staggering temperatures, for us, is making riding and competing, suddenly very difficult.

Horse and rider in the sun

Top Tips

So, here’s some of my top tips I use for staying cool:

  • When you can avoid riding in the midday sun, instead opt for morning or evening rides.
  • The same applies to turnout. Unless you’re lucky enough to have plenty of shaded shelter in your field. Otherwise avoid turnout during the hottest part of the day. Even switch it up and turnout at night instead.
  • Don’t wash your horse and leave them in direct sun to “dry-off”. This raises their temperature as the water has to heat up to evaporate. After washing leave them in the shade to dry. Also make sure to use a sweat scraper to help with the drying off process.

  • Obviously, plenty of water is a must. Make sure it is readily available and if possible have it in the shade. Water left sitting in the sun will heat up and as you can imagine, warm water isn’t the most pleasant when wanting to cool down.
  • Replenish what they lose. When horses sweat for prolonged periods of time they lose electrolytes. This is completely normal, but when you exercise your horse in this heat, the rate at which they loose sweat and volume increases. The loss of these electrolytes can lead to dehydration. So, to avoid this, replenish what they lose by adding electrolytes to their food or water. However, this could be very pricy if you need to give them often. The main electrolyte that needs replenishing is salt, therefore adding a table spoon of salt to their feed may be a cheaper alternative. Saving the electrolytes for after a big workout, such as after an event.
  • Also, don’t forget sun cream! For you and your horse, pink noses (human & equine) can be at high risk for sunburn.

Competition

Avoiding the time of day you ride at, I realize isn’t always a choice when competing. Often, you’ll find yourself riding during prime heatstroke territory. If you’ve any doubt whether you or your horse can handle it, simply withdraw. Health should outweigh any competition.

Horse galloping across a field

You and your horse come first. There are ways to help your horse handle the heat when out competing. One being a fit horse. Fit horses are quicker to adapt, and their bodies deal with heat better. When warming up for a class keep your sessions short and give them plenty of walk breaks. Take plenty of water with you and when you can, keep in the shade.

Enjoy the sunshine whilst it’s here, but make sure you & your horse stay safe and well hydrated!

 

 

 

 

Dearbhle Creagh

Author: Dearbhle Creagh

Dearbhle is currently studying Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Trinity College Dublin. She campaigns her two horses Tilly and Dave. Tilly is a 12-year-old chestnut mare, who after a turbulent eventing career is now successfully competing in pure dressage. Dave is a baby 4-year-old who is only starting his competition career. The hope for Dave is that he makes it as a successful eventer. He’ll be brought on with the ambition of competing at international one-star level by the time he’s 7!

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