As summer approaches and brings warmer weather, you will probably find yourself spending more time at the barn with your horse. Summertime brings with it longer days for riding and greener pastures for more grazing, but keep in mind that your horse requires a little extra care during the hot summer months.
Dealing with insects
Insects love warmer weather, and it seems like you can’t walk out the door without being attacked by flies or mosquitoes. Because the insect population increases during the summer, it is important you take measures to ensure your horse is protected from biting insects and parasites.
Keeping pastures and stalls as free from manure as possible will greatly reduce the amount of flies in your barn, but it will not eliminate them completely, therefore; you should also invest in a good fly sheet and mask. Flysheets look similar to the blanket you put on your horse during the winter, but they are made of mesh, allowing the horse to stay cool, while at the same time, making it nearly impossible for flies to bite.
It is also important to remember to keep up with de-worming treatments. Many people believe that de-wormers are ineffective in summer however; the chance of your horse becoming infected by parasites increases, as most parasites are carried by flies and other insects. Check with your vet or local feed store to ensure you purchase the correct de-worming treatment as different products kill different types of parasites, and using the wrong one can be ineffective.
Turning your horse out
Nicer weather may make it tempting to leave your horse out in the pasture all day, but keep in mind that some horses are sensitive to the sun, just like humans. If you have stalls, it is a good idea to wait until the evening, after the sun has gone down, to turn your horse out. Many horses, especially those with white markings, particularly around the nose and eyes, can sunburn if left outside without shade for long periods of time. If you must leave the horse out during the day, you can prevent sunburns by either using a fly mask or applying sunscreen to the lighter areas of its coat. Many feed stores carry sunscreen for horses however; sunscreen made for humans, with a high SPF work just as well.
While it is always important to make sure that fresh water is available, it is even more important during the summer. You should also remain conscious of just how much the horse is drinking. Though they may not look like it, horses are very delicate creatures and it does not take long for them to become dehydrated. To ensure that your horse is drinking enough water, make sure that they have access to a salt block at all times, and also add electrolytes or salt to their grain at least once a day. Salt and electrolytes encourage healthy drinking and ensure that your horse takes in all the nutrients that they will lose through sweating.
Keeping your horse comfortable
Horses don’t like to be hot any more than people, so here are some ideas to keep them cool as the temperature rises:
- Clip the horses coat, but remember not to cut too much mane or tail, as these aid in repelling flies
- Make sure the pasture has plenty shade
- Bathe or simply spray cold water on your horse, paying close attention to the neck and belly
- Put a fan in the stall and leave barn doors and windows open to provide optimal ventilation
Summer can be tons of fun for you and your horse as long as you take the proper measures to ensure its health.