It might feel like a long time ago, but last summer was a real scorcher! Although the current year has so far seen a bit of a deluge, hotter UK summers could be a continuing trend. With temperatures rising, horse owners need to be aware of the potential dangers to horses during the hot weather. To give you a helping hand, we’ve spoken to our horse health expert to find out more about caring for your horse during a heatwave!  

Caring for your horse during a heatwave

Slap it on!

Just like humans, horses can also suffer from sunburn! White horses, or those with pink skin on their muzzles are often most susceptible. The best way to protect your horse’s skin is to keep them inside, however, this may not always be practical! When your equine friend does go out make sure to slap the high factor sun cream on to help protect them. A nose net can also help limit the amount of sun exposure they receive!

Stay cool

Keeping your horse cool during a heatwave is essential! To prevent overheating, try to turn them out from the early evening, leaving them out overnight until the following morning. While they’re in the field, make sure they have access to shade, either from trees or a run-in shed. It’s also best to avoid exercising your horse during warmer hours, and reduce the amount of time spent working, to limit the chances of them overheating.

Caring for your horse during a heatwave

Lap it up

For horses, keeping hydrated can be key to remaining cool. Ponies sweat a lot to keep their temperature down, but the salt and water lost by doing this will need replacing. Make sure your horse has access to clean water at all times. Adding electrolytes to their water can also help to address any imbalance due to sweating. To ensure any salt sodium chloride they’ve lost is replaced, access to a salt lick is recommended!

A bug’s life

It’s not just the sun that can pose problems for your horse! Insects, especially flies and midges thrive in warm weather, but they can irritate your horse, causing them to become agitated. This can in turn raise their body temperature. Using a thin fly sheet might reduce the number of bugs they come into contact with, and it should limit the amount of sunlight they’re exposed to. Insect bites can also lead to sweet itch, an allergic reaction; find out more about sweet itch here.        

Caring for your horse during a heatwave

Heat stress

Heat stress in horses is the result of their body temperature reaching above 39.8°C. If your horse has heat stress, try to cool them down as fast as possible! First remove any tack, training aids, rugs etc. You’ll then need to pour water over them before scraping it off, which should be repeated until their temperature starts to decrease. If this doesn’t work or the case is severe, make sure to contact your vet.

You should also make sure to speak to your vet if you have any further questions about heat stress, or how to care for your horse during a heatwave. Hopefully our guide will help you get your horse through the hot weather, so that when summer finally arrives, both you and your pony can make the most of it!

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