Summer Horse Turnout Challenges

Tips & Tricks

Summertime can be fun and to some, the best time of the year. For horse and rider, summertime can cause some serious challenges. Whether you’re a casual horseman or a professional, you’ll want to get ahead of these summer turnout challenges.

Summer Horse Turnout Challenges - Overgrazing


The perfect lush green fields we see in spring and early summer are beautiful. However, they can be harmful to your horse if they aren’t correctly transitioned to the richer grass. This is a big cause of increased colic, founder and general digestive problems. Overgrazing can negatively affect your pasture too, as it won’t grow well the next year.

  • For some horses, the option to limit time outside or turnout in a dry lot is not always available. Grazing muzzles can curb the intake of grass or hay. This can help with horses who are sensitive to feeding changes or chronically founder in the changing seasons.
  • Transitioning your horse to the grass over the course of a few weeks can help alleviate the chance of colic. Limiting exposure to extremely rich pasture to build up a tolerance is kind for both horse and pasture.
Summer Horse Turnout Challenges - Terrain


While snow isn’t our favorite, pastures in the summer have their own issues. Rocky and diverse terrain may be great for the strengthening of a barefoot horse. At the same time, harder terrain can cause chipping and cracking of hooves.

  • Hoof dressings and conditioners can work wonders on dry and damaged feet. Many help seal moisture into the hoof while also aiding absorption of moisture. Other dressings can harden a soft or brittle hoof if you are in a wet climate.
  • Quality hay and grain are always a top solution. Hoof health is something that works from the inside out. If your horse is not getting a balanced diet, no amount of hoof products will fix damage done to the hoof. As they always say: no hoof, no horse!
Summer Horse Turnout Challenges - Weather


Where we are located, Ohio is known for its inconsistent weather. It can be 80 degrees and then 40 degrees later that same day. Other parts of the country see more rain than sun this time of year. The weather can affect other summer challenges. More rain could mean less sun and heat, but could cause muddy turnouts.

  • Shelter in pastures can protect against different weather conditions. Shelters like run-in sheds help keep horses dry in the rain but also provide shade during hotter days.
  • Waterproof turnout sheets will keep your horse dry and clean during rain in the cooler parts of the summer. This is a great option if you don’t have a shelter in your pasture; or if you own the horse who is always standing out in the rain.
Summer Horse Turnout Challenges - Pesky Bugs

Pesky Bugs

Every part of the country has different varieties, but insects affect us all. Bugs are one of the most irritating challenges. They can cause skin issues like hives and hair loss. There are a variety of options to reduce bugs and their side effects.

  • With any fly sheet, you’ll have some level of insect protection. Depending on your climate and region, different additional needs are usually required of a fly sheet. While riding, fly wear can also ease fly irritation.
  • Sometimes, fly wear isn’t enough or an option. In that case, topical applications like fly sprays are good alternatives.
Summer Horse Turnout Challenges - Sun


The sun is hard on horses and riders. Whether you’re dealing with bleaching, sunburn, or the threat of melanoma, the sun can be a major problem.

  • Fly sheets offer a physical barrier to UV rays that are potentially harmful. The UV protection of most fly sheets fall between 60% and 80% protection. For horses in less direct sunlight, a lower UV protection can work well. For darker horses or horses in harsh sun a higher UV protection is more beneficial.
  • Fly sheets for sun protection are not practical while riding or showing. A topical sunscreen can offer protection in those cases and some products can also help reverse prior coat damage.
Summer Horse Turnout Challenges - Heat


Fluctuating temperatures in early summer can wreak havoc on our horses. Sharp temperature changes tend to cause an increase in colic cases. Later, in the heat of the summer, it’s a constant battle to keep cool.

  • Keeping a horse cool and hydrated is the best defense again the heat. Having clean water available can help moderate body temperatures and prevent dehydration. If your horse isn’t a great drinker, adding electrolytes into their routine may help.
  • Inside the barn, the heat can be stifling even without direct sunlight. Adding a breeze by using stall fans will assist in cooling the barn and will help rotate the hot, stagnant air.
Summer Horse Turnout Challenges - Night Turnout

Night Turnout

Night turnout offers great relief from the heat, sun, and even bugs. Although, it has its own pitfalls. Not all horses can handle long periods of turnout unsupervised. There are risks involved such as no one is awake or close to the horses in the event of an emergency, but there are ways to ease some of that stress.

  • Some fly wear comes with reflective strips that make your horse more visible at night. For the cooler nights, there are turnout sheets with the same features.
  • We all know a horse who will take the opportunity to escape a pasture. With that in mind, having secure and sturdy fencing is especially important for night turnout, when you might not realize a horse is loose until the morning.

We hope that these tips & tricks can help you and your horse overcome the challenges associated with summer!