Hot, humid weather is uncomfortable for humans and horses alike. But even more than uncomfortable, the heat can be a danger to our horses’ health. A proper cool-down after exercise is essential for recovery from heat stress, and this may require additional measures during the summer. Here are some of our tips and products to help your horse feel its best all summer long.
How Hot is Too Hot?
This is a broad question to answer because there are so many factors at play here. For instance, a horse that lives in a hotter climate will be more acclimated to the high temperatures than a horse who has recently moved or hauled to that area. Additionally, a horse who is fit heading into the summer will likely handle training better on the hotter days than a horse who is not in shape.
While keeping these factors in mind, refer to this guide as a starting point to determine how hot is too hot for your horse. Add the temperature in Fahrenheit to the humidity percentage for a total number. Then, use that number to refer to this chart:
- Below 130 = Most horses can thermoregulate and tolerate this weather.
- Over 150 = Most horses have a hard time keeping cool, and this weather may affect their ability to sweat. Take additional measures to help your horse cool down and combat the heat stress.
- Over 180 = This weather presents a high risk for heat stroke. At this temperature, horses struggle to cool themselves properly. Physical exertion should be limited.
Know Your Normal
An essential part of the cool-down process is knowing what is normal for your horse. Naturally, their body temperature will rise during exercise. But since this can be exaggerated in the heat, learn what the normal increase is for your horse. Body temperatures of 102°-104° are not uncommon after an intense exercise session, as long as that temperature quickly begins to lower as soon as exercise has ended. If your horse’s temperature is higher than normal after exercise or does not lower after exercise stops, it may be experiencing heat stress. Body temperatures above 105° can be extremely dangerous. This is when immediate measures must be taken to help your horse cool down, including a call to your vet.
Additionally, you should know what their normal resting body temperature is, usually somewhere around 100°. This will help you know if your horse is A) At risk for heat stress after a ride or having trouble thermoregulating or B) Properly returned to normal resting temperature.
Cool Down Helpers
Luckily, there are a few things we can do to help our horses quickly cool down and stay comfortable in the heat. Hose off your horse after it has spent some time under the hot sun, whether in the pasture, on a trailer, or out for a ride. Think about how badly you might crave jumping in the pool on a summer day – bath time can be just as refreshing for your horse! The cool water will help soothe their legs and muscles for a better recovery. And, it is also one of the best ways to decrease that elevated body temperature. Let the cool water sit on their body to bring down their core temperature. Then use a sweat scraper to remove the excess water as it warms up, and reapply the cool water again.
Liniments can be a helpful addition to a cool-down bath routine. Options such as Absorbine’s CoolDown contain herbs and essential oils to soothe, relax, and refresh muscles on hot days.
The Carry-Cool Sport Horse Cooling Kit from EquiSources is another beneficial product to add to your cool-down routine. This portable wrap is made of cooling material that helps lower elevated body temperatures after exercise, competition, or during hot conditions. Watch our video on how it works.
Supplements for Recovery
Electrolytes are a crucial addition to your horse’s diet during the hot weather. This will help replace essential minerals lost through sweat and exercise, preventing dehydration.
Summer Games Electrolyte from Kentucky Performance Products is one of our favorites. Its low-sugar formula increases exercise tolerance, speeds recovery time, and protects from dehydration by increasing the thirst response.
Vitalize Blazin’ is a supplement that can give an extra boost to help your horse recover from heat stress. This palatable supplement is a use-as-needed addition to your routine that will help dissipate body heat, promote cellular hydration, and increase stamina in hot weather. It contains ingredients to help regulate normal body temperature and respiration rate. It also contains antioxidants to reduce harmful free radicals caused by exertion and heat. This supplement is especially beneficial for horses moving to a hotter environment for a competition or a new home.
Shop more hot weather essentials here. Or you can shop all our products at FarmVet.com 24/7. You can also call one of our friendly Sales Associates at 1-888-837-3626 or email your order to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anhidrosis is a threatening condition for your horse’s ability to thermoregulate. Learn more about this condition and some products to help your horse sweat here.