Summer is in full force, which means it’s HOT. When the temperatures are soaring, it’s important to properly take care of your horse to keep them healthy, cooler, and stress free. In this blog, we go over some of your most frequently asked questions about keeping your horse cool in hot weather. Read on to learn more about some strategies to beat the heat.

What temperature is too hot to ride a horse?

Knowing what temperature is too hot to ride will depend on your horse and the climate. If you live in an area that is hot and humid, but your horse is used to cooler or dryer climates, they may not handle the heat as well. However, many experts follow a simple formula to determine if it’s too hot.

air temperature (in Fahrenheit) + relative humidity (percentage) = answer

This number gives you the risk of heat stress for your horse.

  • 120 or less: Safe to Ride - A horse can cool themselves down if they are properly hydrated.
  • 120 - 150: Safe to Ride - In this range, your horse will sweat. Make sure you give your horse a chance to rest after riding.
  • 150 - 180: Proceed with Caution – A horse’s ability to cool themselves cannot function at its normal capacity. You will have to assist them in cooling down.
  • 180 or higher: Stop – Your horse cannot cool itself properly. The risk of heat stroke would be high and would require multiple cooling procedures to keep your horse out of danger.

Horse Being Hosed Down

How do you know if your horse is too hot?

Being able to recognize if your horse is too hot is important to avoid a heat stroke during the summer months. Some of the symptoms that they might demonstrate include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Sluggish or stumbling movements
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased body temperature (normal temperature is 98-101 degrees F.)
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Profuse sweating
  • Muscle weakness

If your horse is demonstrating these symptoms, and they’re left untreated, they may experience a heat stroke.

Should you hose down your horse in hot weather?

Yes, research shows that hosing your horse with cold water can actually cool them down. You may have heard that you shouldn’t cold hose your horse in hot weather, but this is actually a MYTH! As long as the water temperature is cooler than their body, and you scrape off the warm water, you will cool down your horse. This works because the heat is lost due to evaporative cooling and conduction. The cold water allows for heat to move from the muscles and skin to the water. Once you scrape the water off, you're cooling your horse down. In fact, the colder the water, the more heat loss occurs!

Horse Drinking Water

How do you cool down your horse?

Heat can cause tremendous stress on horses, so properly cooling your horse down will keep them healthier in the long run. There are a few strategies to use when trying to cool down your horse, including the following:

  1. Reduce your ride time: If you have to ride in hot weather, you may need to adjust your riding time or reduce your ride time to not overheat your horse. When finished, make sure you give them enough time to properly cool down before putting them away.

  2. Use a fan: Stand your horse in front of a fan to allow cool air to hit their body. A regular fan or misting fan can help you get them cooler faster.

  3. Find shelter: Give your horse relief from the sun by finding shade! This could be a run-in, barn, or even shade from the trees.

  4. Change turnout schedule: Change up your turnout schedule to let them out at night when it tends to be cooler.

  5. Provide water: Allow your horse to have access to unlimited, clean water, especially in the hot summer. Allowing your horse to drink cool water can instantly cool them down.

  6. Hose them down: Hosing off your horse can help cool them down because heat is lost by conduction!

  7. Add electrolytes: Electrolytes for horses have a dual purpose in the summer. They will help replace salt and minerals lost through sweating. Electrolytes also encourage horses to drink more water as they are primarily salt with minerals added.