Avoiding Heat Stress With Horses

Avoiding Heat Stress With Horses

heat stress in horsesIn the height of summer competition season, it is common to have days of intense heat. This heat can be even harder on your horse than it is on you.

If you are seeing sluggishness in your horse here are some facts that are important to know about the heat and how your horse performs.

How does heat and humidity affect horses?

  • As body temperature rises, sweat glands produce a concentrated salt solution that coats the hair. Movement of air over the body pulls the moisture and heat off of the horse. Air movement is extremely important.
  • During intense exercise a horse can lose between 2 – 4 gallons of sweat per hour. If body temperature is greater than 107.6 the respiratory system kicks in to help with cooling the body.

The higher the heat and humidity are, the harder it will be for your horse to cool himself. Once the respiratory rate is higher than the heart rate you will see horses start to “pant” and is a sign that dehydration is occurring. Any level of dehydration about 5% will result in a noticeable reduction in performance.

How can I avoid heat related problems with my horse?

  • Be aware of the heat factors and watch your horse.
  • Recognize signs in your animal.
  • Teach horses at home to drink electrolyte solutions or supplements in grain rations.
  • Offer water frequently.
  • Make sure horses and riders get frequent breaks out of the sun. Be sure to have stable fans available.
  • If you see a horse soaked in sweat, breathing with an inverted pattern or showing signs of dullness in the eyes, get the horse into the shade and start cooling immediately. Contact a veterinarian.

heat stress with horsesWhat is the proper method for cooling a horse?

  • Use a hose or sponge to apply cold water down the neck and over the jugular veins.
  • Continue applying cold water along the belly and between the hind legs.
  • Pay close attention to any areas where veins appear to be dilated.
  • Continue to apply cold water from ears to tail until the water coming off is not gaining heat from the body.
  • Fans or natural breeze will help in this process.

Heat stress in horses can be very serious with potentially long-lasting impact on the ability of your horse to exercise during the heat. So take proper steps to reduce the risk of heat stress during exercise during this hot weather.

Need electrolyte products? We have Electrodex, Appledex, Apple a Day and Orange a Day. Stop by for some at Pasturas Los Alazanes.

Source: The Horse

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