A cool horse means a happy riding season!

The summer season is upon us and with it the perfect excuse for those crisp morning and cooler late afternoon rides. By avoiding the most intense, hot hours of the day, with an enjoyable ride in mind, you’re also doing your four-legged companion a favour. The African summer is one of the most stressful periods for horses. Being aware of the best methods of keeping your horse cool this summer, as well as potentially fatal myths, will make this season stress free – for you and your horse!

1) The cold-water myth is the idea that you should withhold cold water from a hot horse. This belief is not only incorrect but could be potentially dangerous and could lead to your horse becoming overheated or dehydrated. It is common practice in endurance races for horses to be rinsed with cold water, especially along the chest until the run-off water is cool, and encouraged to stay hydrated. Rinsing and keeping your horse hydrated, especially after exercise, is critical to horse care during the summer months.

2) Constant hydration may seem like common sense but with the intense heat with which the South African summer brings, providing cool, fresh water with an electrolyte source is crucial. If your horse doesn’t seem to be drinking enough, encourage hydration with a salt block or even mist hay with a little sea-water.

3) Avoid the most intense hours of the day, but also keep to a schedule. Keeping to those crisper mornings or cooler late afternoons will not only provide a more enjoyable ride for you but will also be less stressful for your horse. With that in mind, be awarethatf constantly changing scheduled exertion periods could invite colic.

4) Know your horse! No-one knows your horse better than you do. Heat exhaustion or stroke could happen at any time the horse is exposed to excessive heat that the body can’t handle. You know your horse’s limits, respiratory rates, and heart rate. Constantly monitoring these levels during the day and during exertion is key to combating heat stroke and exhaustion.

5) Use horse rugs! The summer season is also the season of African Horse Sickness. The heavy rainfall months provide the perfect environment for this insect-borne disease that’s fatal to the horse. Providing a quality horse rug that has insect repellent in mind is the best way to prevent AHS. A horse rug also provides protection for your white/grey/fair coated horses against sunburn!

For more important tips about keeping your horse cool this summer,  Steed & Style provides quality horse rugs that are effective against AHS carrying insects as well as provide protection against sunburn!