How to Keep Horses Cool in Hot Weather

Beat the Heat

Summer might be one of the best times to ride, but the heat can be a difficult challenge. Knowing when it is too hot to ride and how to keep horses cool in hot weather is key. Everyone’s strategy for how to keep horses cool in hot weather will vary. If you want to ride more than just cool days in the summer, below are some strategies to beat the heat.

Keep Your Horses Cool - Too Hot to Ride?

Too Hot to Ride?

There are many different opinions on when it is too hot to ride a horse. Some people feel if they are too hot then it is too hot to ride their horse. This will obviously vary person to person and by where you are located. 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. Another option is to look at the ‘real feel’ temperature that considers the humidity and put a limit on the temperature range to ride within.

There are also formulas that you can use to determine if you should ride or not. One such formula is air temperature (in Fahrenheit) + relative humidity (percentage) – wind speed (miles per hour) = answer. This number gives you the risk of heat stress for your horse.

  • 130 or less: Safe to ride – A horse can cool themselves down if they are properly hydrated
  • 130-170: 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.
  • 170 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.
Keep Your Horses Cool - Hydration

Hydration

Keeping your horse hydrated is one of the simplest ways to cool them down. It will also replenish the water lost from sweating, both from exercise and high temperatures. Make sure to have cool, fresh water available in stalls and in turnouts.

Keep Your Horses Cool - Electrolytes

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.

Keep Your Horses Cool - Turnout

Turnout

Turning horses out can often be cooler than staying in the barn. If possible, turning out overnight or very early in the morning will provide the coolest temperatures.

Keep Your Horses Cool - Shade/Shelter

Shade/Shelter

If turning out during the heat of the day, make sure that there is adequate shade or shelter. This will allow your horses the option for a cooler spot out of the sun.

Keep Your Horses Cool - Ventilation

Ventilation

When inside the barn, make sure there is good airflow. You can supplement natural airflow with fans to cool horses sweating in their stalls. Fans are also good to use after the horse has been ridden, to cool them down more quickly.

Keep Your Horses Cool - Bathing

Bathing

Bathing horses after work is one of the best ways to keep them cool. You can also hose them with cool water on hot days where it might be too hot to ride. One method is to use cool water to hose the horse and then immediately sweat scrape them. That water will likely come of warm. Repeat this until the water that is being sweat scraped off is still cool.

Keeping your horse cool during the summer is a top priority.