Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heat Wave!

So, here in the PNW, we are having the kind of weather we never have - namely temps in the 100s, humidity, etc. Since we never get this weather, almost no one has air conditioning at home and in general we're just not prepared for it. My laptop finally breathed its last, probably due in no small part to getting almost too hot to touch, and I had to get another computer which I haven't had time to set up yet and...blah, blah, whine, complain, anyway, back to normal soon. :-)

Since I can't think of anything else but the heat and how much I hate it, this is a good time to blog about how to help the horses deal in these kind of temps. Winter's easy - you can add blankets for warmth and get them out of the wind and wet and stuff hay to them to keep their calories up, but what can you do when it's miserably hot to help your horses come through the weather with flying colors?

The first is obvious: WATER! After all these years, I'm still amazed at how often I walk into someone's barn - nice barns, even - show barns, barns that show on a national level - and on a hot day I can find an empty bucket or a horse turned out in a paddock or arena with no water source at all. It's never okay. It's not okay at all. If you use your arena or round pen for turnout, drag a muck bucket out there and fill it up. If you aren't home to water several times a day, hang two or three buckets in your horse's stall or use a muck bucket. Got a bucket tipper? Find a solution - there are various kinds of braces that will outwit a horse's best efforts to throw his bucket and the water inside to the ground. Making sure there is plentiful, clean water in front of your horse 24/7 is the most important thing you can do to avoid a four-figure vet bill and possibly a dead horse. It is so easy that I'm continually stunned when people fail to do it. What, do you people like having $5,000 colic bills?

A cool shower feels as good to your horse on a hot day as it does to you! If you are home to do it, take the 15 minutes to walk outside and give your horse a cool shower with the hose. To scrape or not to scrape? In extreme heat, scrape - otherwise you just wind up with hot water sitting on the horse. Scrape it off for the best cooling. No time for a full bath? A soaked sponge behind the ears, between the front legs and between the butt cheeks will do a lot to cool a hot horse. This can be done to tacked horses mid-ride -- we used to do it all the time to the polo ponies in-between chukkers on hot days.
(Pic is my Crabby Old Bat mare enjoying a shower loose in the pasture! She is the second horse I've owned smart enough to come to the fence for baths on hot days and even turn herself around to make sure I get both sides.)

Electrolytes are a good addition to your horse's water when the temps rise, and making sure that a horse always has a salt block accessible helps encourage drinking. Here is a good page that explains why electrolytes and salt are so important for your horse.
If your only shade is in the barn, it may be better to keep the horses in during the day and turn out overnight. If you are keeping your horses stalled, fans are a great idea but as with anything electrical in the barn, be absolutely certain cords are in great condition and that there is no way on earth a horse can reach the cord to chew on it. If they can, they will, and barnfulls of horses have been lost to fire in exactly this way.
I have seen various misting systems for sale and they sound like a good idea but I haven't used one myself or been in a barn that had one. Have you? Do they work? Are you happy with a particular kind?

How can you tell if a horse is dehydrated? The old-fashioned pinch test is a good place to start. Pinch the skin on the horse's neck. If it takes longer than a second to snap back, your horse may need more fluids. If a horse is refusing to drink enough on his own, try feeding a mash like hay pellets with enough water to turn them into an oatmeal-like consistency.
Another test for dehydration is capillary refill - press your finger into the horse's gums above his teeth. The spot will turn white but in a normal, healthy horse, it goes back to pink within about three seconds. If your horse takes a lot longer, he may be suffering from dehydration.

Ever notice a horse who simply does not seem to sweat? This is called anhydrosis and can be a very dangerous condition in a hot climate. Basically - their built in a/c is broken. They can't sweat to cool themselves so they are entirely dependent on you to cool them in extreme temps. Sometimes horses suffer from it temporarily and other times the condition is chronic. In either event, if your horse has this problem, it's even more important to provide shade, regular cool baths and monitor for dehydration.

Horses, like humans, can get heatstroke and the symptoms are similar. Stumbling and breathing hard are two symptoms to watch for. Here's a good page that discusses heatstroke and what to do if you suspect it. You really have to know your horse. The nature of the show season is that we're all going to show in some pretty extreme heat. Some horses can hack it - some can't. As the article notes, fitness is very important to help your horse manage competition in high temps, so that will help, but like humans, some horses are simply more heat sensitive. If you start to see signs of distress, it's time to quit for the day, untack and get the cool bath going to cool your horse. I have seen horses go down - that's a sign you weren't paying attention. It should never go that far.

The horse isn't the only one who has to worry in high temps. Back in my childhood days of the ever-wonderful black velvet hunt cap, which soaked up the sun like a sponge, I did pass out off of a horse once in the heat. If you're riding, or teaching a rider, watch for signs that the heat is getting to be too much. Dizziness, nausea, and headache are some signs that it is time to get off and get a drink and a splash of cool water on your face. Set your water bottle where you can get to it and keep on drinking during your rides!
Trailering in high temps - remember, that's an aluminum box your horse is in. Haul if you must but no, it's not ok to park in the sun and go in and have a leisurely lunch with horses loaded. I just saw someone doing that the other day when it was over 100! Find some shade to park in and hang buckets for a drink and open your windows, or eat on the run.

Finally, always remember you are the one with the high IQ here. It's up to you to make good choices for your horse, like riding in the early morning or late evening to avoid the worst temps, doing low-impact stuff like a trail ride with a swim in the river on that 100 degree day, and maybe even having to say, ok, it's just too hot, I'm going to skip some classes and maybe I won't win every year-end but my horse will love me!

Got other good tips for beating the heat? I'd love to hear them. Comments will go up later tonight for today and Tuesday when I can stand to be online at home! Send your comments. Regular comments really should be back by Friday. I am just not getting enough done in the heat. I'm a huge wimp about it...I type for 10 minutes and go, omg, can't stand it, sticky, hot, hate it, want another shower or to go to Starbucks!
P.S. And thanks for the birthday wishes, those of you who remembered! Can you wish me some cooler weather? That'd be great. ;-)
P.P.S. Oh, and a friend of mine adopted Bonnie Weather, it turns out! So I will definitely have updates for those of you in love with her.


"I managed to keep mine cool by putting a box fan in her stall: took the plastic guard off and put some screen over the fan before putting the plastic guard back on because if it's possible for an ear to get in between the plastic she'd be the horse to have it happen. I also chased her around with the hose a few times before she realized it felt good. She spent the next couple of days nickering to me every couple of hours for another shower. She tends to not drink enough water when it's hot and already gets mash twice a day so I put frozen apple juice cubes in her water buckets. It not only had the added benefit of keeping her water cool & tasty, but also provided me with entertainment watching her catch the cubes and play with them in her mouth. She gets really proud of herself when she gets one!"

"Since I don't like Gatorade (sugar) and Fake Gatorade recipes (Google them) contain potassium chloride which I am VERY sensitive to, I've found that apple juice (cut with water so it's not so sweet and doesn't make make me thirstier), V-8 or other juice containing potassium will make riding in the heat possible. The body has to replace more than just water; we need electrolytes, too.

The "enhanced waters" like Dasani and one of the Sam's Club brands contain KCl. Can't do those.

The biggest thing for me is filling up with WATER and then having to go to the bathroom all the time. And WATER isn't the only thing riders need. We need electrolytes, too, hence the "enhanced water" thing.

I've found EmergenC, which fizzes in 8 oz. of water and doesn't fill me up. It comes in a bunch of flavors and works even in warm water. There is also a "lite" version. If anyone is diabetic, EmergenC is still do-able--there are only 7 or 8 carbs per packet. I know a gal who is a brittle diabetic and wears an insulin pump. She drinks EmergenC.

I find 8 oz. of EmergenC just before I get on for my lesson or my class keeps me hydrated for the 45 minute lesson and certainly for the warmup and 4 minute class ;o)

Bananas are also good for potassium, but in the hot weather they have to be BARELY ripe for me to eat them. Any brown dots on the skin (which would not normally be a problem) make them inedible in the heat.

When I'm finished riding (or just before I start), especially if it's humid out, I mist myself with a pressurezed bottle I bought at WalMart--you pump it up, then turn the knob and a fine mist comes out the end of the tube. The pressure being released sounds like a mosquito and my horse can't figure out where that "insect" is, but once he gets distracted by the mist--and realizes how NICE it feels--he doesn't care about the "skeeter."

We both enjoy that.

Wet rags are good, too. I soak a bandanna and put it around my neck or under my helmet (when I'm trail riding).

I used to live outside Portland and I can remember when it would reach 90 degrees some summers and just be MISERABLE. I feel for you guys."

"Here in (crazy hot) Eastern Oregon we have fine spray pop-up turf irrigation heads mounted on upright pipes that go along the fenceline in our feeding area. It's on a timer to go off during feed times. It makes hay have a little moisture content, cuts down on dust, and forces the one's that would rather not get a shower to cool off cause they won't leave the feed. It works great, and I especialy like the dust control- the heads don't use too much water, and cover everything evenly. -Carrie "

"Here in Houston, in the middle of summer (which is mid April to Mid October) we hose and scrape the horses before tacking and sometimes before tacking, after tacking and before getting on, then half way through the lesson.
We have big muck buckets of water in the corner of the arena for the horses to drink from.
Our barn has automatic waterers, so no worries about no water in the stall, or bucket dumpers. Paddocks have large water troughs, filled at least once a day.

Love the blog,

"When you go to rinse the horse off for the first time, start at the legs and work up. This will allow the horse to get used to the temperature and not be shocked. Also, with the electrolytes I would offer them in another bucket of water so that if they make the water taste funny to the horse he will have another bucket without the electrolytes in them to drink from. "

"Great topic! As the self-proclaimed "Water Nazi", I am very graphic in impressing on barn help the importance of making sure the water NEVER runs out. Although it's not a good idea, horses and humans can go for days without food if my case would probably be beneficial. On the other hand, lack of water can become deadly in less than 12 hours given depending on the heat stress index, activity, etc. Make sure your barn help knows that the horses could die a horrible death and that you will hold them personally responsible if it happens. Also, if you're away, ask trusted friends or boarders to help keep an eye on things for you. Provide contact numbers to make it easier for them to reach you. Your barn help will be less tempted to skip filling the troughs if they know somebody is watching."

"These are mostly for the humans.

1. 50% water, 50% gatorade on really hot days. And yes, in a pinch, you can give a horse gatorade, if equine electrolytes are not available. A 50/50 mix is better than either alone.
2. For the rider...the Vitamin-C electrolytes packets are also very good.
3. If you need to get your core temperature down quickly, an ice pack as close to over your heart as you can can be very effective. Eating ice is also good.
4. Wear a hat (when not riding). Ideally a white or straw one.
5. For the horse, I have seen a lukewarm bran mash with salt added help a horse recover from a case of heat exhaustion. Sounds strange, but it *did* work...the animal was visibly happier very quickly. He was also moved into the shade.

And don't forget your *other* animals. On a hot day, the barn cat and dog will enjoy sucking on ice too (make sure the pieces are appropriately sized for cats and smaller dogs).

Oh. Do NOT drink coffee or soda when outside in the heatwave. Just don't. Both of these things can make you *more* dehydrated. - Jennifer"

" live in Sunny Palm springs and my entire 12 year horse career has been in this area so I'd like to think I have my fair share of experience when it comes to horses and the heat.

The biggest thing I can think of is don't work or ride when its too hot out. During the summer months many people opt for the early AM or evening rides. If you are at a facility that has lights the PM is the most convent however it is never as cool as the early morning. If you must work or your horses must work those are the best time to do so. If you can't manage the AM and there are no lights you can ride/work during the day.

Water is your friend in more ways then 1. My old trainer suggest this to me, and I've never had a problem since I made this my day-time riding routine.

If you have to do stuff in the middle of the day first make sure you are well hydrated, keep lots and lots of water around and drink frequently. Ice cold water tastes good but simply cool water is better for you and your system. So no ice water, cold tap water or the cool water that comes out of the hose is about perfect. Hose your horse off before you put them to work, a good shower then a quick scrape will keep them cool while you tack up and the saddle pad will help hold some moisture so there is a continued cooling effect. Keep the sessions short but effective, and hose again after you are done. I also like to keep a feed bucket with water handy so I can at least offer water after a work session not all horses will take it but if they do they prob need it.

Some horses drop weight in our summer much the way they can drop weight in your area during the winder. People need to be mindful of the fact that sweat and trying to keep cool burns energy much the way trying to keep warm does. Thoroughbreds and other typical "hard keepers" are more prone to this, but it might be a good idea to give a hard keeper the hot months off or up the feed in advance to prepare.

If I think of any more I'll send them on as well."

"Yes, I have seen a misting system in action and have seen the difference.

My stallion is in training at
Nelson Training Center and they have one of the HUGE barn aisle fans and a misting system. The fan alone cools it down a bit, but mostly just circulates that hot Texas air.
Turn the misting system on, however and the temp in the barn drops about 10 degrees! It’s nice. The horses love it. It does make a difference in the ‘climate’ so to speak of the barn. Theirs was a simple do it your self model. Ran PVC pipe from the faucet to the other end of barn down the middle of the aisle. Every so many feet there is a spray ‘head’ on the pipe. The end opposite the faucet is plugged/capped. It works well enough! :-) Just wanted to Share."

"Add water to the feed. Digesting food draws water out of the gut - see if the horse will eat the grain dampened or slushy. We always do this with the endurance horses. You just need remove the food before it goes off by fermenting - this can happen in a few hours in hot weather.

Some people add electrolyte to the water but you better be very sure that the horse will drink it. Better to dose with a mouth syringe rather than put salt in the only water and risk the horse deciding not to drink at all. This can also be a problem with the feed so I generally give electrolytes in apple sauce by mouth syringe if I need to be sure that the horse gets the electrolyte and if he needs the feed.

If the horse has a salt crust on their back - esp visible with dark horses - they probably could do with some electrolyte. I have seen this even with horses just standing in a field when it is very hot. Salt licks are ok but the horse may not eat enough of them to get what they need.

Also carrots and watermelon are good idea anytime of the year but a nice half watermelon seems to be very appreciated when it's really hot out."

"I live in Southern Oregon where temps have been well over 100 deg. this week. I have seen those misting systems before, but they are so expensive!

So, I just decided to build my own. Cost me less than $15 and took maybe 30 minutes to put up. I used:
- 20' of 1/2" drip irrigation tubing
- one "L" fitting for the 1/2" tubing
- one 1/2" tubing to female hose thread fitting
- one package of five 0.4 gph foggers
- one package of five 1/2" tubing clamps that come with nails to mount to wood
- one 1/2" drip tubing end-clamp.

I should clarify that I already had the 1/2" drip tubing, the "L" fitting, and the end-clamp, but I purchased the rest. You could probably buy all of the supplies for under $30. Drip irrigation stuff is available at Lowe's, Home Depot, Coastal, Farmer's Co-op, etc. Personally, I use the .710 OD tubing and fittings which is carried by my local Co-op and Home Depot. Lowe's carries a tad bit smaller OD (outside diameter).

First, I measured out a 20' section of drip tubing, then I put the end-clamp on one end. Starting at the clamped end, I mounted the tubing to the eave of my chicken coop using the clamps with nails. This is where the water troughs are and it's also in the shade of an oak tree most of the day. The horses like to stand there a lot. When I got to the other end of the eave (the coop is 10' long), I cut the tubing with scissors and installed the "L" fitting. Then I inserted the end of the remaining piece of tubing into the other end of the "L" fitting to run down to the ground. I used the remaining clamps to fasten this section of tubing to the side of the coop. At the end of the tubing, closest to the ground, I installed the fitting that attaches to the hose.

I attach the hose in the morning after filling the water troughs, and turn the faucet on about 1/2 a turn and leave for work.

Works like a charm! And ALL the animals benefit from it. The chickens love it, and the dogs enjoy it too. I wish I had a larger eave to mount it on so that the horses could actually get UNDER it if they wanted to, but it's better than nothing and gives me some piece of mind when I'm gone all day.

Stay cool!"

"We get the problem of heat wave every year here in Arizona. During July and August temperatures get up to 115 with 40% humidity at midday. You can feel the heat as you step outside your door. Car air conditioners work fifty times as hard as they typically do. We do a few things about it, however, most of the horses in our barn have been living in this weather for a while and seem a bit climatized to it. Cold weather bothers them more than other horses when we go up north. This could be just that they've lived here all their lives, or it could be that most of the horses are Arabian or part Arabian.

During the summer we turn out at night. This helps a lot, especially since you can't guarentee your horse is going to stand under the shade you provided him. We have fans in the barn that are on whenever the horses are in their stalls (the wiring of the fans is all run through the ceiling). We only ride from 6pm at night to 7am in the morning. Midnight rides are a fun change and also help keep your horse cooler. In the summer we also tend to ride bareback most of the time. This helps keep them a little cooler than having to deal with the weight of a saddle and saddlepad. After every ride the horses are rinsed off and wiped so they stay cool.

We have to beat the heat these days, especially in Arizona."

"When I lived in the Texoma area (Lawton Oklahoma and Wichita Falls TX). We used to hang box fans in the stalls. Most of the horses emjoyed it so much that they would not leave the stall during the day if given the choice. They got turned out at night on days like that and actually seemed to prefer being out at night. We drove b a farm near Olympia that has a gorgeous friesian stud, he had one shade tree and water, but even with the tree and water - he was blowing really hard in Wednesdays heat. I was tempted to get out and tell them to put him up with a fan in his stall. - Jenny"

"My friend installed a misting system in her barn and hated it! The barn was dripping wet all day. Everything was wet."

"I irrigated my pastures, so a few times a day, I turn them on, my horses get soaked and roll in the dirt. It makes them happy.

love misters. Keep them off of concrete though for obvious reason. They work great with pelleted bedding. I myself do not sweat, so heat is particularly harsh for me. The misters easily drop the temp down 10+ degrees!

Horses drink more from running water then from still water, so when we have a heat wave, I leave the hose in the trough and leave it on. They also drink more from cooler water, so that helps. I empty and clean my water trough every morning, normally this is done before 8am, by noon the water is already close to 90 degree, and its in the shade! I should put a pool temp in the trough just to be accurate.

Make shade for pastures can be done cheaply if you do not need it to last forever. will not survive a hurricane, and likely wouldn't hold snow. But you take 4 wood post, (12ft long I think) we used 6in thick and I dont think they were more then 20.00 a piece, put them in the ground, we did concrete ours in, and put eye bolts on the top, get a tarp/canopy, and attach with bungee cords (you need the give or a breeze will tear the tarps). Makes quick and easy pasture shelter, the poles are sturdy, so we just replace the tarp when it tears (lasted over a year so far) , and if you do this in a smaller fenced off area (we call them sacrifice areas, because of our sandy soil, and high land prices, its how some of us keep grass pastures), you could easily add irrigation, or just get a hose nozzle, hang on fence, and put it on the mister setting.

Big ass (the company or other like manufactures) industrial fans are great too. Exhaust fans are beneficial inside a barn as well, but these are more beneficial for states who need relief from heat for long periods.

good luck with the heat wave, I feel for ya really!!!"

"I worked in a zoo in SE Texas. One summer we had 20 or so days of 100+ temps. For many of the animals I zip-tied soaker/mister hoses to the top rail of the fences and ran the water several times a day. It made a nice misting area and wallow for the large animals. I’ve also used the timer devices on the faucets but didn’t really like them-they tended to leak at the faucet.


"We have a few of our own and a few of our friend's for a total of 6 very hot miserable horses in a decidedly non-shady field here in Northwest, WA. We were splashing around in the kiddie pool yesterday and I was feeling guilty watching my poor horses and wondering just what to do to cool them off. So my hubby and I got into the million degree truck and headed to the farm store where we dropped $100 on a big sprinkler and a couple of long hoses. We set the sprinkler (one of those 3 legged farm-type sprinklers) out in the front paddock where it would wet down one of the only areas with shade and the entire area around the water trough.

The one little arab out there was the only horse smart enough to actually stand very, very close to the water (but not quite close enough to really get wet ;). I'm sure it was kinda like a misting system for him. Since the others wouldn't go near it (therefore couldn't get to the water) we only left it on long enough to wet the area down pretty well. It made a huge difference in the temperature in that area!

Also, we leave the hose in the trough on a very slow drip (secured with zip ties) so even with six horses it never gets low, is always fresh, and stays nice and cool. We have the setting down to a fine science... Just enough to keep it at the top!

Stay cool!


"My favorite thing is blocks of ice. I make them out of plastic milk jugs by cutting the top off. I then place them in the water troughs and in buckets hung off the fences. I have several horses that like to bob for ice in the troughs and chew on the ones in the buckets. For the ones that don't play with the ice, it at least keeps their water cool.

"we attach the hose and sprinkler to a fence post and the horses can go into it when ever they want. some will stand in it all day"

"Since I've moved to FL from CA, my horses have not handled the extreme humidity and swings in barametric pressure well. It's taken me 2 summers, and this the 3rd that I've finally got it figured out and under control. I use a probitotic supplement and strive to keep them cool. For this I have supplied run in shade, high powered fan and misters. I bought them from Target, a long narrow hose with a mister about every 2'. It is 20' long and nailed to the fence where they stand the most. I turn it on in the morning and off at night. They do indeed stand in front of it and I have noticed much less dried sweat on them at the end of the day and no more "liquid poop."

-Spotted T Apps"

"I hear a good trick for a horse that won't drink for whatever reason is to put a couple of apples in their water bucket. They then "bob for apples" and end up swallowing a fair amount of water at the same time."

"Ahhh, summer in Tucson . The armpit of hell. We have a misting system hooked up in our stalls – so our horses and donkey have the choice of coming in out of the heat and into the shade or cruising out in the corral. The mister helps keep the temp down by the stalls (corregated roofs - - great heat conductors). One of our older geldings has Cushing’s and pants when the temp gets above 90 combined with “monsoon” season humidity. For him, we put a muck bucket full of water in the stall, with two fans outside the stall - - one pointed at his face/neck, the other pointed at his chest/body – and when he’s not out cruising the paddock, he’s standing in front of the bucket and fans where he likes to dunk his nose to keep cool. And, of course, like you suggested, we hose him down regularly when we’re home. We’ve been going through this routine with him for almost five years. My main bitch with horse owners, though, is NOT PROVIDING SHADE for their horses. Puh-leeze! Give them a fricking choice, people! If they want to stand in the blazing sun or in the shade, it’s their choice. But they should have that choice. - Stacey"

"Automatic stock tank fillers!! I can’t say enough about how great they are- especially if your water trough is small and you have to refill 2 or more times a day. I keep at minimum 2 tanks accessible to my horses with automatic float valves (which cost a whopping $12 each from Jeffers or Tractor Supply). But it’s important to still do a tank check daily to make sure the valve hasn’t malfunctioned- they can stop filling or keep running and pour water all over if something goes wrong. You also have to periodically (around 1x a week works for me in the Georgia heat) empty them and rinse and refill, which the float valve makes easy, too. They can be installed on virtually any style or size bucket, trough, or tank, in about 2 minutes. Just attach a garden hose, clamp them on, and turn on the water.

You can use them in stalls too, they don’t have to be hard piped, but even if you do hard pipe them, pvc pipe and parts are CHEAP and it’s easy to do, you don’t have to be a professional plumber to use a hacksaw and some PVC glue. They are cheaper than the buckets with built-in float valves. I run a hose in, install the valve in a flat-back bucket, and hang it as usual, and the bucket stays full.

I even use one in a small flat-back bucket for my chickens!

Another tip for trailering in the heat- I keep a clean garden sprayer (never used for anything but horses!) full of water, and if I get stuck in traffic I go back and mist the horses periodically to help them stay cool. Sponging from a cooler of ice water can help, too.

One last tip- one of the most effective places to cool the horse is along the jugular veins on the underside of the neck- wetting there and then fanning helps with rapid cooling- it’s a technique I and other distance riders who regularly ride in 90+ degree heat use all the time.

Those of us who live in the south and ride competitive distance, we learn to cope. I recently (last month) finished a 40 mile ride in 90+ degree heat and high humidity in Alabama, with absolutely normal hydration throughout and at the end according to the vet judge- careful use of electrolytes is key for hot weather competition or even just exercise and schooling."

"I’m in Texas – terribly hot and humid summers! The horses love “ice-treats”. Put peppermints, sliced fruit – apples, watermelon, peaches, etc, in a bowl of water and freeze. After it hardens, dump it into feed bucket in the shade and let them lick the ice to get to the treats. That’s a good time to get the hose out and give them a quick squirt, too.

Love the blog! - Lee"

"I have lived the vast majority of my life in Florida, so I am quite used to dealing with ridiculous heat, and what makes it worse is ridiculous humidity. In the high summers, we always barn our horses during the day, and everyone's stall has a fan in it, as well as the barn aisle. We water them two or three times a day, except for one of my barns that had automatic waterers. We always keep rides, even just hacks, to before 11 or after 4, which is fine because the sun stays up till 9 with enough light to ride by. Our arenas, unfortunately, are not shaded, but the trainer had this wonderful sprinkler system installed. It was originally to keep dust down during the heat since there is little to rain for months at a time and the dust would get out of control. But we riders have found it a wonderful thing to turn on during rides and get splashed by nice cool water throughout the ride, and the horses have learned to aim for the sprinklers. We always have huge water bottles on the fence posts to the arena and we drink copious amounts throughout our lessons. We have a couple horses that have chronic anhydrosis, and we have to watch them very carefully. They are never worked very hard in the summer, maybe only for beginner lessons at walk/trot, and we use the partial bath to cool them before and during the rides, and then hose them off completely after every ride. We also hay at noon in the summer when we don't in the winter.

It really is just common sense for what to do in the heat. What feels good to a person (water, cool air, cool showers, etc) would likely feel really good to a horse. If you are too hot to work, your horse is too hot to work."

"I haven't used the barn misters but the garden misters hooked along the top of the fence work great and the horses love it. I have also left a lawn sprinkler going that was set outside the pasture but aimed into the pasture. The horses here have a wading pool that is in the shade and they splash in it often.
Also, I wet down the barn roof and let the water run off for a couple of minutes and it helps cool the inside of the barn. 2 liter pop bottles or milk jugs filled 3/4 with water, frozen, and put in the water tank will cool the water down enough they will drink it.
We always have to deal with the heat and humidity in the summer and just went through a major heat wave here.
Best of luck, I know how miserable it is.

"I have 6 horses and they are various breeds including 4 friesians who get very hot in the Tehama cty. Valley of Ca.
So, I have a sprinkler going full blast from 11 am until about 5 pm and they take turns standing with their butts into it or laying down near it on the cooler dirt.
Even the 09' foals have learned to enjoy the water- a terrific way to introduce them to baths and water.
I keep it just outside the fence so my stud does not lay on it or try to steal it.
BTW he lives with 4 mares and a gelding burro."

"Could you PLEASE say something about horses with no shade? I'm in AZ, it's hit 116 this week and my neighbor, for 3 yrs now has had no shade for his paint horse. I watch this poor thing hang his head next to a feeder to shade his face. Worse, right next to his pen is the shade itself, lying on the ground.

We went over and offered to put it up the other day and he said no, his horse never uses it anyway and he's going to build a barn.... uh huh. Take him 3 yrs to put the beers down and get it done.

Apparently in AZ it's not against the law to have no shade for your horses. It drives me batshit crazy to see this. Crazy.

Also, when I trailer in this heat, I hose each horse before they go in. "

"Just want to reiterate the part about SCRAPING a horse after hosing or sponging with water. It needs restating because it is a bit counter-intuitive. I mean, it’s easy to think that it would be kind to leave the horse wet with that nice water you just put on him. Why take it off? Well, it was cool when you put it ON the horse, but very quickly it will become the horse’s body temperature. So now your horse is basically in a bowl of 100 degree water. And any breeze that might feel wonderful on a damp body doesn’t stand a chance against a horse in hot water! Horses have had heatstroke from being bathed without scraping -- it would be better to leave the horse to his own devices, i.e. sweating. - JoZ"

Living in Australia it gets very very hot in Summer, even in winter it can get hot. Our horses cope with the heat very well, my horse sweats quite easily. It is winter now and it has been in the high teens low 20's. Celcius that is.

At shows, there is rarely shade. A few sparse gum trees and that's it. So, we make our own shade. We set up a gazebo for us humans and a tarp for the horse, people give us funny looks but hey, it works. Because he's older, I'm very careful. We have competed in very hot weather, I have pulled out once because the heat was getting to him (and me). He looked a bit off and wasn't himself. So I hosed him down, tied him in the shade with his water bucket and gave him a lemonade ice block (he does actually suck on them but drools all over my hand). Four horses collapsed that day, none were fatal.

On the issue of water, all of our horses have access to water 24/7."

"OMG this is insane. I am in Richmond BC and it's TOO HOT. I refuse to ride my poor old mare but she's been enjoying walks to the river so she can go for a swim and boy does she love it. I also noticed she wasn't drinking a ton so I put cold apple juice in her water and that inspired her to take a nice big drink. - Mia"

"I have a old wood barn (30+ years) that can get very hot. I have four stalls but my horses are not kept in their stalls (except to eat their grain) they can come and go into the pasture. I have fans in each stall and the breezeway. I have misters on each end of the barn doors (very top) the fans circulate the mist and it can stay 10-15 degrees cooler. I live in the mountains above Sacramento and we do get in the high 90's and sometimes low 100's. I LOVE my misters and the horses love to stand under them. I also use muck buckets for water inside and troughs outside the barn plus far end of the pasture I have water troughs so they always have plenty of water no matter where they are. I have one that loves to stand with his front legs in the low water trough, it has to be cleaned daily but he sure has clean front hooves. - Lorrie"

"There are the collars you can buy that have the crystals you soak in cool water and you wear them around your neck - reduces heat by about 3-6deg.

My mum made me a bunch when we deployed to the Arabian Gulf and then made up some that attached from the crownpiece around the throatlatch. By soaking in cool water before tacking up, we found horses were coming back from trailrides (here in Australia where the heat is no joke!!) in far better shape and you don't have the galvanic skin response to being hit with a burst of cold water. - Amanda"

"We carry spray bottles of rubbing alcohol and spray our horses regularly in the heat. It feels great on humans too! It doesnt sit on the body and get hotter, like water does, it evaporates in the skin and cools them right down. Happy Belated Birthday! Donna in Va Beach, Va"

"Up here in Toronto we have had too much rain ! When it is too hot though, I agree that most forget the essential ingredient to a happy horse . Don't go home with no water in the through ! How would you like to be thirsty and not be able to have a drink ? Try it ! It amazes me that a person loves horses, so they say and forgets the most important thing " Water "."

"it's easy to rig up a hose as a mister. we use a cheap sprayer and adjust to a nice mist. tie the hose to a fence post (from the outside so they can't play with it) in the shade. it's amazing the difference in temperature when you walk under it. the horses will stand there for hours on a hot day. and sometimes i join them. my vet loves the idea and is setting up her own this year."

"I live in Florida , land of the high heat and humidity. Only we get three to four months of it a year. I would suggest putting out free choice LOOSE white salt for the horses. They don’t have rough tongues and have a hard time getting enough salt off the blocks. Also, make sure it’s white salt and not a mineral salt. They will eat it until their need for sodium is quenched, and may take in too many of the other minerals in the mineral blocks.

Personally, we make sure the horses have access to shade and water, and lots of it. We have floats on the water troughs so they don’t get low, and they are checked daily. They can get down into the trees for shade. If you don’t have a shady area, putting them in the barn with fans is a good idea, providing your barn is well ventilated. We hose the sweat off them every afternoon, and we make sure to ride either early in the morning, or after 7 pm.

Don’t feed grain in the hot part of the day. If you must feed a grain meal, do it when it starts to cool down a little bit. If you are worried about water intake, you can feed beet pulp well soaked, or if your horse doesn’t like beet pulp, you can soak alfalfa or timothy cubes and feed those all wet and mushy. You can also wet down the hay, but make sure you only wet down enough that they will eat it within an hour or two, or the hay will sour. - Juli"

"I "have" some oldies (well, they're my boss's, and I'm the only one out at the barn during the day), and I have found automatic waterers (Nelson) to be a godsend!
I have thought about big misting fans for the pasture, but being on well water in the middle of a drought really took care of that decision.
Also, the horses spend most of their time in the shady barn during the day (free access to stalls and large pasture during the day), and you really don't want water to be spraying around inside a wooden barn with rubber mats and shavings.

A barn I volunteer at has an overhead arena watering system, and if a horse or pony looks to be having a rough day with the heat, I turn on a section of the watering system and walk them around in it. It cools me off, too!


"I have automatic waterers in the barn, but three of my horses use muck tub for water. I buy the party block of ice and put one in each tub. It helps to keep the water cool, but I need one every day. SALT BLOCK is very important, as you stated. For horses that won't drink electrolite water, we barrel racers top dress their grain with it. A sprinkle or two of apple cider vinegar will mask the taste. ALL my horses love the apple cider vinegar, and raw vinegar from the health food store has health benefits.

As for the misters, I have an open sided barn. There is enough of a breeze throughout the day that I don't need a fan. You can get the stuff to set one up WAY cheaper at home depot.(We are actually looking into making our own this weekend.

The dark horses have access to shade. The white/grey horse has to suffer. I set the timer for the sprinklers to come on in the afternoon for a few minute's relief. I can't be home to squeegie. ALL the horses (except the ditzy two yr old) go out of their way to stand in the spray. A fly sheet, sprayed down with water, is also a great way to cool them. (Sort of like putting on a wet t-shirt) - KarenV"

FHOTD in: Bet that works well to motivate the hubby to come help you with the horses... ;-)

"We've been going through a heatwave over here recently (Scotland) and our fell pony has struggled in the heat. Due to a situation beyond our control we had to have her out during the day in the sun. We bought her a white fly sheet, the lightweight mesh kind. She seemed to cool off whilst wearing the rug, and was much more comfortable than she was out with just her black coat. The only warm patch was around her shoulders were the anti-rub lining was, and even that was just warm and not sweaty. A lot of the people on our yard with dark coloured horses then tried the same idea with good results.

Also braiding up the thick fell mane made a difference to her as well, but thats only a real problem with very thick native pony manes.

Hope this is of use to someone."

"I am a fair, fair, FAIR girl of Irish descent, and the heat does not agree with me at all. I've been known to pass out when indulging in exercise (like, say, WALKING) when it is very warm out. So riding in the summertime with a nice hot horse, long pants, leather boots and half chaps, a jump vest, and my hunt cap can sometimes be quite a challenge.

Here is my NUMBER ONE piece of advice for keeping riders cool: use something like a Coolmedics product. You soak these in water and they really, truly, absolutely keep you cooler. I love the helmet liner:

It really works. My eventing instructor has the vest and he swears by it in hot weather. I don't have the neck one, but I got one of these from REI and it works on a similar (excellent) principle:

They are amazing. I've been taking polo lessons out in Lake View Terrace recently and the Valley is H-O-T at 11am in August. My helmet liner combined with a lightweight high ventilation helmet have saved me.


"If you EVER see a horse not sweating when the temperature says he should be, this is potentially the start of anhydrosis. You can head if off, but you have to be dedicated – hose the horse off. Then hose him off again. Then again. Before he gets all the way dry, hose him off again. This is not a one-time fix, but I have “cured” the condition a few times. Since this is often caused by humidity (high humidity + high heat + no wind means the horse’s natural cooling system – sweat – is not working, and is at risk of shutting down), a fan is important unless there is a breeze. I would suspect a mister would be a big help with this if you can’t be there to hose off every half hour or so all day.

On scrape or not to scrape: depends on the wind. If there’s a steady breeze, no need to scrape – the breeze will do the cooling. If there’s no breeze, a fan is really needed.

Tch tch – only two horses smart enough to “help” with the shower? You really should get more Arabians … :D"

"I was never showed my horse, so when it was hot if I rode it was a short relaxed bareback ride & a bath. If it was just too hot for even a bareback ride, he got a bath.:-) And I went early in the morning if I was going to ride, or later evening hours. I didn't always shampoo him when it was hot. Sometimes it was just a plain old water bath, either way he always liked a bath on a hot day.

He always had a shed or barn he could go in for shade, too. A couple places we boarded at had trees for shade that all the horses congregated under during a heat wave. - Littleraven7726"

"My horses are turned out 24/7 and have plenty of shade available if they want to go there. They don't, though. They stand in the middle of the field, in the sun, eating, napping, hanging out. Silly creatures. I will give them a shower/bath tonight though, if only because it will feel good to ME!

They are drinking almost twice as much water as usual in the heat, though--I've got FOUR muck-bucket-sized water buckets in the pasture right now (for two horses). All four will be down to half-full by the time I get home from work tonight.

Stay cool. Maybe the weather will break soon. That'd be good...."

"A friend of mine used to feed her horse cold watermelon all day when at shows during the summer. He wouldn't always drink water on his own, but he sure would love to devourer the watermelon!

Once when my horse was dehydrated but still eating well I had a vet tell me to throw a hand full of salt on my horse's food to make her thirsty. I have sine used this trick the evening before or morning of long road trips. It seems to work.


"I like keeping the horses inside during the day during extreme heat. Without a mister, I would water down the aisle and then put two large box fans out, one at either end, and it helps the cool air rise off the wet aisle floor. I could feel the coolness, so I think at least the horses could too, especially if allowed to put heads out in aisleway. Here in Montana, it's been really nice, sorry, the PNW is just not set up for those kinds of temps. - Janny"

"For people: don't drink soda. It's dehydrating. Drink Gatorade or other sports drinks. I personally believe that Gatorade is better than water on hot days - the rule of thumb for bicycling is to drink one 20 oz bottle of Gatorade per hour when cycling. Probably not a bad idea for any sort of outside work with horses when it's hot.

At least here in Ohio, hot weather means more aggravation from horse flies and other biting flying things, so always make sure the horses have fly spray - otherwise it's just more misery for them."

" I use misters along with fans for my horse and it works WONDERS as long as it's not a stuffy barn with no airflow! Also, lots of fresh fruits and veggies. I have heard that feeding a lot of freshly cut fruit is helpful in replenishing fluids and electolytes (not sure HOW helpful, but he likes it so I do it). My horse's favorite is fresh cut pineapple, and he also likes orange segments and grapes. I ride in the heat every day, but my horse is extremely physically fit. What I absolutely hate to see is weekend riders with unfit pasture ponies who show up once or twice a month and decide to go on a 3 hour long trail ride, or decide their horse needs to be chased around the roundpen for a while, or that it's just the perfect day to find out if their horse has a knack for barrel racing. I've heard the excuse "well he lives outside, I'm sure he is fit from running around the pasture during the week." Yeah, I'm sure your horse gallops in twenty meter circles and runs barrel patterns for his own satisfaction. I hose my horse off daily to get the sweat off, always scrape him to prevent warm water from holding heat in, then cover in fly spray, and ALWAYS change out my own water buckets, whether the barn people are supposed to have done it or not. If I wouldn't drink it, I don't expect him to. - rollkursucks"

"I live in Georgia where heat and humidity are almost synonymous. We regularly have temps over 100 with humidity levels near 100% in the summer months usually starting late May and lasting until mid to late September. It can sometimes feel as if you are drowning. It is simple for me – I don’t ride my horse when it is too hot…period. When the humidity is high the sweat doesn’t evaporate as well and doesn’t cool our bodies as efficiently. We hear the weather man talk about something called the heat index. It is similar to wind chill in the winter and factors in the ambient heat and humidity to come up with a “heat index” It is not unusual for an air temperature of 94 but a heat index of 100+ because of the humidity. I hose my horses down regularly in the summer heat. I too have a hose hog that has to be locked up while I hose everyone else because he will bully his way to the hose and he wants me to give HIM a shower. Like your horse he will stand there all day while I hose him on hot days without being tied up. Everyone else needs to be tied. I couldn’t imagine living here without A/C though. My horses are fortunate that their pasture is in a Pecan grove with plenty of shade trees. I have fans in the barn and I know some people who have misters in their loafing sheds outside. We can have such a potential for mold problems here I wouldn’t put misters in my barn though. Sometimes even early mornings are hot and humid and you can easily work up a sweat before 7:00 am just mucking the barn. I don’t ride much July and August. Outdoor horse shows are almost non existent and my trail club posts no rides. You will find horse shows in air conditioned facilities though. I live near the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agri-Center and they have installed Big Ass Fans (for real, the name of the company is Big Ass Fans ) in all the barns and covered arenas. It can make a HUGE difference if you can just get the air moving about a bit. - PRS"

"In the summer I try to feed at 7am and 7 or 8 pm (after the heat of the day). My Vet always says he wishes more of his customers would do this." - JstPam